“it takes a good vision

to find the right mission”

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Before the flooding incident that Compostela experienced this morning, a committee of the Sangguniang Bayan had been diligently and religiously conducting a consultation with various stakeholder agencies, both from the local (provincial, municipal and barangay), and selected representatives from the private sector in a committee hearing yesterday morning on the formulation of the guidelines of the comprehensive drainage system and flood control master plan for the municipality of Compostela. It was lead by the Committee on Infrastructure and Public Works chaired by Engr. Alan Calalas with Kons Moki Estandarte and Boy Vargas as members. Other SB member attending was Kons Danny Peligrino.

I happened to attend the committee hearing, unplanned. I was there neither because I represented an office nor I was a resource person because technically I do not belong to an office dealing with government and I do not also have the expertise and competence in discussing details about engineering and other structural works. I was there as citizen of the town willing to learn from the inputs of the people attending and in some little ways contribute to the very commendable proposition of the Sangguniang Bayan through the authorship of my good friend Engr. Alan Calalas, the number one SB member. In our personal and casual talk over cups of coffee not a very long time ago, he said that “drainage system and flood control master plan is a legislation of my and everyone else’s dream”.

As an observer primarily, I do had good takes and feel of the whole proceedings which were predominantly highlighted by the knowledge, skills and experiences of engineers and other technical people attending. I even have had my own notes on the merits of the whole idea exchanges from start to finish. From among the hundreds of observations, I have summarized my lessons learned from the committee hearing into ten (10) essential notable points.

Here they are:

1. The subject of drainage system and flood control will surely generate most if not all buy-in acceptance and support from the people, regardless of social and economic circumstances. The proponent of the legislation really hit the right target. The arguments, presentation, suggestions and recommendations detailed during the hearing were more than enough to be used as evidence that the subject matter is of utmost priority for the government to undertake. Majority of the participants even commended the author, who was at the same time the presenter and presiding officer of the hearing, for finally taking the cudgel of bringing the ideas into reality and come up with viable and sustainable plan.

2. For local legislation to be responsive and effective, legislators must and should not limit the context of their proposition to “stock knowledge” and personal conviction. There are numerous other people both in the private and government sector who are competent, experienced and willing to contribute their expertise and skills in the advancement of public good and genuine service to the people.

3. While the proposed legislation can stand alone locally, drainage system and flood control is not a stand-alone concerns and issues to be successful and sustainable. Especially for Compostela which is strategically located in between the ridge and the reef of the whole Agusan River Basin, and at the center of two major river tributaries of the basin, Batutu and Agusan River, larger program must complement the little milestone set by the proposition at hand. Toward this end, both the provincial government of Compostela Valley and Agusan del Sur should entice popular support and action from other municipalities along the Agusan River watershed, from ridge to reef. The good news is, Compostela has lready sounded its go-ahead whistle.

4. First and foremost, before a master plan to be feasible and doable, it is necessary, relevant and practical to secure basic data and fundamental information. These include risk assessment, topographic survey, inventory of waterways, social preparation, assessment of previously implemented projects and programs, collection and consolidation of secondary data from other various offices, both public and private, among others. Without these data and information, the master plan will remain a dream.

5. The proposition, to be viable and implementable, should be backed up by concrete and acceptable policies and other related legislations. There are various cross-cutting issues that need to be addressed such as social acceptance, peace and order, tourism development, resettlement of informal settlers, waste management, disaster risk reduction, climate change, financial management and sourcing, among others.

6. Because the local government are managed politicians, decision makers should be firm enough to exercise their functions and mandates with strong political will without compromising their chances of retaining their position. But the good side, the project really is popularly acceptable by the people because drainage problem and flooding are not just occasional but perennial concerns of the people from all walks of life.

7. For the legislation to be passed sooner than it will be too late for another big event, God forbids, it needs unanimous support and approval both by the Sangguniang Bayan and the executive branch of the LGU.

8. Programs, project and activities should not let “availability of funds” a bottleneck. The proposed master plan, while the whole amount of the project cost is far greater than what the LGU can afford, will become a gutter board for bigger and larger funding support from the national government, non-government organizations, private sector and international funding institutions. It is easier to ask for help when the LGU is helping itself.

9. And it takes a good vision to find the right mission. The instrument of taking the first step for a long journey ahead has been bestowed to a visionary leader who patiently and humbly asked the support, help and contribution of other people, offices and colleagues- the author of the proposed legislation himself.

10. The milestone of turning ideas into reality has already been started. It takes genuine people’s participation to keep it going. Let’s take our part.

The committee hearing was adjourned and concluded with high hope and prayer that sooner, not later, the proposition will become a legislative output and approved by the mayor.



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