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Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Philippines
April 8, 2012 issue

Pilar mayor , village heads laud “purok” power movement


An interior mayor backed up by a couple of barangay captains was reported to have expressed elation over the fielding by the Capitol leadership of so-called Prosperity Teams although they were unwelcome in Carmen because they were suspected of advancing the political agenda of Gov. Edgar Chatto. According to a Capitol press release, Boholanos want the province’s poverty reduction approach thru the Countryside Development Program : Purok Power Movement (CDP-PPM) achieve its noble goals. The purok movement was known as Prosperity Team. According to the Capitol EDCOM, local government unit (LGU) leaders down the barangay level support the deep-penetrating integrated development program of Gov. Chatto precisely because it is fundamental to his mandate. But it was not the appraisal of Carmen Mayor Che Toribio de los Reyes given the teams mandate while touring in at least four barangays of the town.

According to the tough-talking mayor, concerned barangay captains visited by the CDP-PPM had a different take of the teams’ plan of action. They said the teams talked about political concerns. In Pilar, Mayor Wilson Pajo welcomed the fielding of additional “Prosperity Teams” or ProTeams which set the pace of the multi-agency, multi-sectoral involvement in purok empowerment. He was happy that ProTeams were pulled out of Carmen because they were sent to serve his grassroot constituents. Mayor de los Reyes earlier ordered the development workers’ pullout in an act widely perceived as a prelude to her bid against the incumbent governor in next year’s election. The ProTeams have community organizers from the Office of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development, Provincial Health Office, Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, Office of the Provincial Veterinarian, members of the Philippine Army from the 2 nd Special Forces Battalion, and Bohol Provincial Police Office. Barangay captain Exequiel Bahalia, Jr. of Katipunan, Carmen felt his barangay missed an opportunity, what with the province itself sending people right to their doorsteps to talk to them on essential concerns affecting their welfare. Optimistic of the many goods that CDP-PPM could deliver, the barrio leader could only hope for the best term between the Capitol and LGU. The municipal government informed beforehand the barangays that the ProTeams were already coming to the barrios after they coordinated with the LGU, according to the barangay officials.


The ProTeam mission pursues the involved agencies’ institutional programs that fit exactly into the multi-agency, multi-response CDP-PPM. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP) and the province have programs with similar characters addressing essential grassroot concerns, including peace and order which are prosperity ingredients. Areas for Pro-Team interventions have been prioritized based on poverty levels and other factors like their being former grounds of the insurgents. Even the peasants who were then rebel sympathizers have welcomed the innovation of the government in reaching out to them. The soldiers themselves have become civil agents of rural development, although there may still be men and women in power who demean them as task forces for private army end. 802 nd Brigade commander Col. John Bonafos cited the Internal Peace and Security Plan ((IPSP) - Bayanihan which is an AFP development campaign to address peace concern. The PNP has its Pulis sa Barangay Program which is a part of the 10-Point Action Plan of the current national PNP leadership, according to Bohol Provincial Police Director Constantino Paul Barot, Jr. The ProTeams were also escorted by Carmen cops as part of the security component, but De los Reyes reportedly scolded the town police chief, telling him to take orders from her and not from the Bohol police head.

The law defines the role of the local chief executives on police matters as the mayors are just deputized by the National Police Commission (Napolcom) to a certain level. The CDP-PPM at the same time serves the intention of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) which requires Integrated Area Community Public Safety Plan (IACPSP) from the LGU. The province launched the CDP-PPM on Bohol Day on July 22, 2011 while enabling Provincial Ordinance 31 was enacted and Executive Order 36 issued also last year to streamline its implementation. The local chief executives, including barangay officials, were trained on development planning and peace and development program execution. Mayors were not bypassed since they were present in planning workshops attended by vice mayors, police chiefs and municipal local government operations officers. Mayors and agencies were informed of the various issues and concerns raised by the barrio people in dialogues facilitated by the ProTeams so that they can spearhead in addressing them with the concerned agencies. As they listen to the concerns of especially the lowly constituents, the ProTeams deliver medicines, animals for livelihood dispersal, water pumps and even water-seal toilet bowls. The ProTeams frontline the horizontal action of the CDP-PPM since there is a vertical component that will strengthen the purok system in all towns engaging the municipal, provincial and national agencies and private sector. By this time, impact projects like essential infrastructures are delivered as identified by the rural communities themselves with the support of their LGU officials.

The CDP-PPM and its prosperity teams as intervenors actually pursue a mandate that is opposite to an autocratic leadership, the latter being disadvantageous to the community and, as a consequence, prone to suppressing people’s voice. Unlike in Carmen, the LGUs of the barangays where Pro-Teams were previously dispatched recognized the value of their mission to the people. A sensitive part in planning process, getting the problems, issues and concerns of the community should not be misconstrued as an intrusion into the leadership, according to some mayors. It is getting to know how and where the agencies will come in to help or facilitate the delivery of programs and services. Thinking, tactful and capable of getting right things done, Chatto has adhered to development planning that starts with reality checks and assessment of needs. The governor said the CDP-PPM in fact complements with the development efoorts of the LGUs because it intends to be a convergence of innovations for people’s good.


Meanwhile, Mayor Toribio is showing a profile of courage in defending her people against a government program that is being suspected of being a campaign vehicle. Tagbilaran Mayor Dan Lim yesterday said that this is in direct contrast to the silence of Gov. Edgar Chatto on what is supposed to be his pet program. “This controversy has given the people an opportunity to compare the leadership styles of the two protagonists in 2013,” the mayor said. Lim was referring to the controversy generated by Toribio’s order for the pull-out of the so-called prosperity teams from four barangays in Carmen. Toribio gave the ultimatum for the pull-out of the prosperity teams, a brainchild of the Chatto administration, after getting adverse reactions from barangay officials. The officials in the four barangays resented the approach used by the team members which, they claimed, instigated the people against them. Toribio gave the ultimatum for the pull-out 8 pm last March 29 which was implemented by the teams 6 am the following day. Lim said Toribio’s firm and decisive action is a direct contrast to Chatto’s disappearing act. “Why is the governor silent on this? He should be the one to take full responsibility and meet the issue head-on,” the mayor said. Lim said that Chatto instead was out of reach and left the damage-control activities to his subordinates.

“I am not surprised because that is his style. He always wants to look good but hides behind his subordinates whenever there are problems,” the mayor pointed out. Lim said he expects Chatto to appear only when the controversy has settled down and his subordinates have already taken the blame for his program. “If he believes that his programs are for the good of the people, he should come out in the open and explain it himself as a leader should,” he stressed. Lim said that with Chatto’s disappearing act, people will be even more convinced that the program is not as it is projected and that there is a hidden agenda behind it. The mayor declared that he expects more of the same from both Chatto and Toribio in the coming days because more and more Capitol programs will come under scrutiny. “I expect Mayor Che to come out and take on all questions in the same way I expect Gov. Chatto to hide each time there is a controversial issue,” he added. Lim, however, said he believes time is running out on the governor. “You cannot hide forever,” he explained. The mayor also pointed out that the expected intensity of the rising political fever will also unmask Chatto even more. Lim said he won’t be surprised if more political leaders in the towns will end up with the same fate as those of Vice Mayor Nuevas Tirol-Montes, Catigbian Mayor Roberto Salinas and Cong. Erico Aumentado. (PR)

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