OPINION page 4

EDITORIAL      

Ensuring public welfare

     Imagine a place where there are no laws at all. Public order is nil. There will be chaos, there will be all kinds of  criminalities. Each fighting tooth and nail, an eye for an eye situation.

     Thus, when the Sangguniang Bayan of Flora approved and adopted the newly-revised Municipal Code of General Ordinances, it only meant one thing, ensuring the welfare of the people.

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     The Code of general ordinances contains all rules and regulations, ordinances and such other laws governing the municipality of Flora.

     It deals primarily with the maintenance of peace and order or public safety. Many of its provisions geared towards keeping the welfare of the people, on health issues and morals.

     The last time it was codified was in 2004 and was implemented in 2005. This means that all the ordinances, rules and regulations established since 2006 up to the time of its adoption on Feb. 27, 2017 are now part of the revised Code.

     Thorough review and deliberations on all provisions of the Code by members of the Sangguniang Bayan led by presiding officer and Vice Mayor Jessica De San Jose started as early as May last year.

     The main purpose is the increase of penalties against violators of such ordinances, rules and regulations, for instance, Loitering (or any person who create or cause to create danger or breach of peace, disturbance or annoyance, obstruct the free passage of pedestrians or vehicles, molest or interfere with the lawful activity of any other person) and such other provisions.

     Any person caught loitering shall be punished a fine of P1,000 or imprisonment of not more than five days or both at the discretion of the court.

     The Code is vital to the insurance of public safety and peaceful co-existence in our town and its people.      

    Public hearing by the local legislative body will be scheduled later pending other related matters like the Child and Youth Welfare Code.

Re-examining ourselves as inspired by the lyrics of Apayao’s hymn

Let us be frank. We felt a bit of guilt when Gov.
Elias C. Bulut told a huge crowd at the 22nd Apayao founding anniversary in Kabugao that he knows for a fact that many of his folk mates do not even fully memorize the lyrics of our province’s hymn. Many laughed out loud and we have seen around us smiled at the governor’s musings.

The governor asked everyone to go back to the lyrics not just to memorize every line but also sing it with our hearts. “You have to internalize because that (Apayao Hymn) is the inspiration of the peopltheCATALYST-FINALe of Apayao.

Bulut said “that is the framework of the true state of our province. The lyrics? That is what we are doing. The verdant plains that we have to preserve. This is the challenge for us.”

Flashback: One summer afternoon in 1971, a young boy watched how a bunch of elders toppled a giant tangile tree towering 150 feet high in a thickly-forested area in Maton, Pudtol. The frightened eight-year old was told to stay close to the men, who are  employees of one of the big private timber-cutting companies licensed to operate in that area. During those times, one can hardly see a household there except for a few Isnag families thriving to make both ends meet on whatever that rich forest can offer to them including wild boar, deer, fruit bats, rattan and what else but timber which was real thick and plenty.

The irritating sound of  chain saw was followed later by the sudden swinging of leaves as the fallen giant tangile rolled over to the ground. Next is a deafening thug like a fallen airplane, scaring birds in the area while smaller trees also fell. Minutes later, the boy heard the murmur of bulldozers and chain saws of other logging concessionaires from the other sides of the mountains. It was an amazing sight and such is still vivid in the his memories. That boy was me.

Exactly 40 years later, I went back to the area in 2011 at Sitio Simanwal, Barangay Imelda, Pudtol, where I stayed for four months. I found myself with a bunch of hardworking men involved in “Carabao logging” and bringing the “tablun-size” to buyers from residents along the highways of northwest Cagayan via the treacherous Nagan River and Apayao River down to Nagurayan to Lucban. This system is called “Gatawan,” putting the tablun all together to set-up a raft and follow the flow of the river downstream. Most often, police authorities and even deputized barangay officials apprehend the poor carabao loggers, jeopardizing their sacrifices and perspirations just to bring home food to the dining table. But laws have to be enforced.  (By the way Nagan River was once declared by the national government as a protected area and became the Philippines’ second cleanest river a few years ago. I was here doing a mini research on the situation there).

On Feb. 12, 2017 the opportunity to travel to Kabugao for the first time came. On board my beat-up motorbike, the uphill-downhill travel to the Luna-Pudtol highway via Paco Valley was treacherous though it was  a rendezvous of sorts.

Sometime in 1987, I joined a fact-finding and medical mission composed of journalists, doctors, dentists, nurses, human right advocates, church workers including a nun to Paco Valley, a two-day walk from Lenneng passing sitio Kalliat.

Declared by the Army as “no man’s land’ during those days, we entered the area armed with a permit from concerned LGUs and escorted by an army convoy up to a drop-off point. We camped out near the Tawit River in Flora’s southeastern side. Aside from providing health care and treatment of common illnesses among the residents, our group documented cases of human rights violations against the residents, who were caught in the crossfire between the government forces and the New People’s Army.

Another memorable experience for me during that journey was the unspoiled virgin forests that we passed by. Giant trees such as tangile, guiho, apitong, calantas, narra and even a few Eagles hovering over the horizon were an amazing sight.

It stabbed the heart to know that none of those wonderful scenes we saw can still be found now except for few smaller trees as we have observed during our recent trip to the area via the newly-concreted national road.

We really have to preserve whatever that is left of us — if there is still left.

Talking to the huge crowd at the 22nd Apayao Day celebration, Gov. Bulut said there is no way for the province but to embrace development and invest in our natural resources and if need be “sometimes we have to sacrifice some areas.”

He said that after putting all these infrastructures (farm-to-market roads, irrigation, health facilities, schools etc.), there is a need to give employment for the people.

Maximizing the agricultural system is one key factor in achieving the goals of development, Bulut said, and he does not want that POVERTY WILL RUIN THE DREAMS OF THE PROVINCE. Because if this happens then many of the local folks especially in interior barangays will again turn to the NPA’s side, the governor said adding “we have to strategize for the welfare of the people, provide them employment.”

For her part, Congresswoman Eleanor Bulut-Begtang urged all public officials to DREAM, PLAN and WORK for UNITY and PROGRESS.

    “Saan tayo nga ipalubos nga pulitika ti mangpaksiat ti talna ken panagkaykaysa,” she quipped. Well said Ma’am! Happy Birthday!!!

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About KABINNULIG NEWS

KABINNULIG NEWS is published monthly by the Municipality of Flora, Apayao with temporary editorial office at the 2nd Floor of the Legislatura Building. Contributors are welcomed. Comments and suggestions are also accepted provided that it will uphold moral standards. Letters should be addressed to the Editor. Senders must indicate their name and contact number.
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