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As I See It
Developing Marinduque under a new leadership

By Neal Cruz
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:54:00 01/22/2008

Filed Under: Local authorities, Places

MANILA, Philippines -- An item in this column last Jan. 14 was about what is happening in the faraway province of Marinduque, under the governorship of Jose Antonio ?Bong? Carrion. The column bared three criticisms of Carrion?s administration. I invited the governor to the Kapihan sa Manila media forum last Monday to answer them point by point. He did and said more, like why he is being criticized and his plans for his province. Here are the issues raised against him and his replies:

1. Criticism: In five months, five provincial administrators have been appointed and have resigned. The family of the sixth, a son of a Supreme Court justice, fears he may be the latest ?sacrificial lamb.?

His answer: Only two administrators were appointed. A third failed to meet the eligibility requirement. The sixth volunteered because he ?wants to help rebuild Marinduque.? He won?t become a ?sacrificial lamb.?

2. Criticism: Carrion authorized the salvage of sunken Japanese World War II ships off the coast of Marinduque although an ordinance had been passed declaring it a diving site for tourism purposes.

Answer: All false. There is no authorization from me to salvage the ships, no records that I did, no ordinance, no law against recovery of sunken vessels. They will be preserved for divers.

3. Criticism: The governor wants to buy P110 million worth of brand new road maintenance equipment and is borrowing the money from LandBank. How is he going to repay that?

Answer: One reason Marinduque is underdeveloped and its people are poor is the lack of and the substandard provincial and farm-to-market roads. The Department of Public Works and Highways builds and maintains only the national roads. The second-hand equipment bought by the Reyes provincial administration for the same amount broke down after only three months. We are buying, at the same cost, brand-new equipment. These will build more roads and maintain existing ones to help develop the province faster and at less cost to the province. Development will mean more jobs and income for the people. The province will repay the loan from its income and savings.

* * *

Carrion said the criticisms against his administration are only caused by politics and he blamed Rep. Carmencita Reyes for them. Her family, who has ruled Marinduque for four decades, does not want anybody else to run the province. But what have they done for the province during all those years? he asked rhetorically. Marinduque is still a fourth-class province.

?Congresswoman Reyes calls herself the ?Queen of Marinduque,?? he said, ?but I am now the king.?

Carrion said he decided to run for governor only recently (his grandfather was the first governor of Marinduque) because he saw that under the Reyeses the province would remain poor. He mentioned many ghost projects under the Reyes administrations, like the infamous ?mango plantation scandal.?

Then he unveiled his plans and program of government. His projects, he said, center on tourism, livelihood, health, education, infrastructure, cooperatives.

Marinduque is already a tourist attraction during Holy Week when tourists flock to its Moriones Festival. It has many beaches with white sand and it has five smaller outlying islands that can be developed into other ?Boracays.? The original, by the way, is already overcrowded. What?s more, Marinduque is closer to Manila.

But it is hard to go to Marinduque during other times of the year because its airport is small. It has a Ro-Ro (roll-on, roll-off) port, but tourists from Manila first have to go overland to Quezon then take the Ro-Ro boat to Marinduque.

What Carrion did during his first term was to lengthen the airport runway to be able to accommodate jetliners. He hopes it will be finished before the Holy Week rush. The province will also have a tourist festival during its founding anniversary next month. And yes, Marinduque still has forests which it is reserving for tourists, not for loggers.

Besides the provincial and farm-to-market roads, there will be a coastal highway around the whole province.

The main sources of livelihood in Marinduque are coconut farming and fishing. Carrion is adding to them livestock-raising, mainly hybrid goats and cattle to graze among the coconut groves, hogs and poultry.

Do you know that Marinduque is now the main source of lechon de leche for Manila?s tables? Yes, Marinduquenos are raising the piglets that are shipped to Manila to be roasted into the delicious ?lechon de leche.?

The governor is encouraging the planting of bamboo and the use of coconut by-products for handicrafts. He has organized a number of cooperatives. Marinduque is already well-known for its ?araro,? a sweet snack made of rice, corn, sugar and coconut. The people are now learning to make virgin coconut oil.

For fishing, the province is giving out loans so the fishermen can build more and bigger fishing boats. It is planning to allow fish pens and fish cages in the bays and coves.

There will be more health centers and schools. Marinduque already teaches grade-school kids how to use computers.

With all these projects that should help develop the province and improve the lives of the people, why do the Reyeses still criticize the provincial government? Carrion asked. Why don?t they pitch in and help their province mates?

Yes, why not?

* * *

Today?s joke:

Question: Who is the only honest person in Congress who does his work daily and promptly?

Answer: The janitor.

More Inquirer columns

Previous columns:
Reasonable doubt in PNP?s gas blast theory ? 1/21/08
A tribute to the UST Varsitarian ? 01/17/08
Abolish the pork barrel and save tax money ? 01/14/08
Instead of tariff cut, lift 12% VAT on oil ? 01/10/08
FVR?s apologia on death of Contemplacion ? 01/07/08
Ramos? excuses for inability to save Contemplacion ? 01/03/08
Stop the manufacturers to stop the mayhem ? 12/31/07

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