PIA News Service - Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011

Feature: Better governance upgrades Bunawan town to 1st class status

BUNAWAN, Agusan del Sur, Feb. 3 -- Increased funds in local coffer as well as better services and facilities are just some of the benefits this town now enjoy after it has improved local revenue generation.

The setting up of efficient revenue generation system was an offshoot of the series of trainings and workshops conducted in the municipality as part of the preparation for the implementation of Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP).

“During the MRDP governance workshops in 2000, voluminous documents were scanned and we incidentally discovered that the Municipal Tax Code being imposed was outdated way back 1980s. Some regulatory fees are as cheap as five pesos,” said municipal planning chief Robert Floyd Salise.

In 2002 the local government revised their existing tax code and fully implemented it the following year. However, increasing the tax dues did not necessarily resulted to increase in revenues. The need to encourage the public to religiously pay their taxes remains a challenge. To address this concern, then Mayor Gilbert Elorde with his introduced innovations did not only compel but also inspired his constituents to support the drive to increase the local coffers.

Innovation in tax collection

Since the bulk of tax collections came from business tax, the local business sector was among the first to benefit from improved tax collection system. Through the introduction of One-Stop Business Licensing, the standard time for application and renewal of business permits was cut short from almost one week to a maximum of only 4 hours.

“We gathered the required signatories from various offices such as the assessors’ unit, health unit, engineering office, and fire protection office so that clients will no longer be hopping from one office to another just to get their clearance and comply with the requirements. Imagine the time saved and how it will be invested to other productive activities,” Salise said.

Another strategy to encourage public support in local revenue generation is the conduct of Government-on-Wheels where basic services are provided to various barangays.

“Similar to one-stop licensing, we also pooled representatives from various agencies to directly offer services in remote areas. We provide medical clinics, legal assistance such as settling of land disputes, provision of planting materials and fertilizers, to name a few,” he said.

“The catch here is that after the people in the community have availed themselves of those services from the local government, our treasurer will now conduct information drive for them to appreciate the value of paying taxes,” he added.

Barangay officials and school teachers were also tapped to help in information drive and as a reward, priority in terms of development projects were given to those with highest tax collections.

“It created healthy competition among our barangay officials for them to access funds for construction of much needed community and school facilities,” Salise said.

More taxes, more projects

Municipal treasurer Myrna Hiponia said their local revenue collection has significantly increased from just almost P9 million in to almost P18 million in 2009.

“The convenience brought about by the improved revenue collection has encouraged our people to pay their taxes as the said obligation no longer hampers their daily economic activities,” Hiponia said.

“When people can see tangible projects and have availed themselves of the government services, it will no longer be difficult to collect taxes from them,” she added.

“The increased in local revenues has helped us a lot in improving the delivery of services to our constituents. In particular, it has helped us in raising the much needed equity to start the project implementation for MRDP,” Salise said.

“The municipal government was able to raise P50 million worth of infrastructure projects,” he said.

Salise said the need to increase local revenue has become more pressing now as they are beneficiaries of other development projects which also requires counterpart funds.

Aside from implementing development projects the local government has also achieved significant impacts most notable is the reduction of the town’s poverty incidence from 60 percent to only 19 percent. Delivery of social services was also intensified which include the increase in Philhealth beneficiaries.

The improved tax collection has come a long way for Bunawan which not so long ago was classified as a third class town but now elevated into first class status as a result of more economic activities. (Noel T. Provido, MRDP/PIA-Caraga)

Dinagat Islands floods affect 8,574 families

DINAGAT ISLANDS, Feb. 3 (PIA) -- A total of 8,574 families were affected by flooding incidents in Dinagat islands brought about by the low pressure area in East of Mindanao.

The municipality of Basilia with 5,018 families (25,090 persons) has the biggest number of affected families followed by Loreto with 1,445 families or 7,224 persons; San Jose with 1,333 families or 6,665 individuals; Libjo with 620 families (3,101 persons); and Cagdianao with 158 family consisting of 792 individuals.

Rosario Roxas, Jr., Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Deputized Coordinator said that only 325 families or 1,523 individuals were evacuated by the flooding spawned by the non-stop rain.

In Loreto, MDRRMC-OCD Deputized Coordinator, Engr. Domingo Elan Jr. reported that portion of their seawall along Brgy. Carmen was damaged.

In Basilisa, six (6) barangays roads were washed out but they are still passable. Most barangays in the said town experienced soil erosion.

Meantime, 25 hectares of root crops and banana were reportedly damaged in Libjo. In the town of Dinagat, road slip off shoulder costing P1M was also damaged but it still is passable to all types of vehicles.

Roxas said that no injuries/casualties were reported as of press time.

Roxas further revealed that the rest of agriculture and infrastructure damages are still undergoing thorough estimation. (FEAbkilan, PIA-Surigao del Norte)

2 casualties, 25,087 families affected by Surigao Sur landslides, floods

TANDAG, Surigao Del Sur, Feb. 03 (PIA) – Two persons died, 25,087 families affected and 1,188 were evacuated from the 15 of the 18 municipalities and lone city of this province according to the partial report of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC).

The victims were identified as Nenita Corpuz, 54 years old and Julie Culapu, 47 years old who died in a landslide in Brgy Pantukan, Carrascal.

The evacuees were temporarily housed in the designated evacuation centers.

During the height of the calamity, the provincial government of Surigao del Sur led by Governor Johnny Pimentel has issued Alert level 3.

A disaster rescue operation was conducted in the flooded areas where heavy equipment/big vehicles were deployed to transport stranded passengers along the Surigao-Davao Coastal Road (SDCR) national highways.

As of press time, flood waters reportedly subsided, although scattered rainshowers are still experienced. All government offices and suspension of classes in elementary and secondary both in private and public schools are now lifted.

Meanwhile, the PDRRMC office continues its 24/7 operation until February 16.(NGBTranquilan/PIA Surigao del Sur)

2 killed; and 2 were hurt as NPAs attack LGU monitoring post in Agusan del Sur

BUTUAN CITY, Feb. 3 -- Heavily armed group with more or less fifty components believed to be New People’s Army guerillas attacked a local government unit illegal-logging monitoring post along the highway of Agusan del Sur-Compostela Valley Province border town very early morning, Tuesday.

Police reports said that the guerillas believed to be coming from the Guerilla Front (GF) 20 reportedly exploited the cover of the early morning fog and heavy rains to stage an early morning raid against the Task Force Bantay Kalikasan monitoring post under the Agusan del Sur Provincial Governor’s Office, located at Purok 3, Pulang Lupa, Trento, Agusan del Sur, 6:10 a.m. Tuesday.

The raiders, police said coming from the northern part of the national highway arrived on board a commandeered blue Isuzu Forward six-wheeler truck (CDW 445). Police also said that the raiders sealed off the area from incoming vehicles by burning rubber tires in the middle portion of the national highway, on both ends some meters away before and after the location of the said monitoring post.

Police said that the attack was so sudden that it took the raiders only 25 minutes more or less to overpower the six persons manning the said check point after a very brief shootout.

According to police reports, only two policemen were conducting a check on the vehicles bearing logs outside as the four others stayed inside the said monitoring post. Some raiders, police report said, proceeded to the bunkers and shot the two sleeping civilians identified as Carlito Benito alias “Lito” and Pletzmark Dimzon.

A civilian was able to run away unnoticed, while another police officer was able to save himself and his firearm when he carefully hid himself at a bunker. Police regional investigators said that the said policeman testified that an NPA went inside the outpost and took the post rooster, logbook and a cellular phone placed on the top of a table.

The attackers also took away two (2) M16 Rifles issued to the policemen and also grabbed one policeman who was wounded on the leg during the firefight identified as Police Offcer 3 George Sabatin as their hostage as they made their escape towards Brgy. Visaya of the same municipality, after dividing themselves into two groups. One group boarded a red Isuzu Forward (YAZ 846), while the other group accordingly boarded a white vehicle. Another wounded police officer PO3 Mario Sevillano was left behind and is now confined at a local hospital.

CSupt. Rafal strongly condemned the raid as “atrocious” as it was launched at the time when Caraga region was under “Alert 3 level” due to incessant rains caused by the northeast monsoon and the tail-end of the cold front. It caused flooding, overflowing of the major river systems and landslides to occur in some areas of the region. The police and the military in the region the region were busy on search and rescue/evacuation operation in the affected areas in the Caraga region. In fact, the team accordingly who were in the area of incident came from Agusan del Sur provincial Public Safety Company who were tasked to provide security for the said task force and also to observe the water level of the Agusan River as part of the disaster monitoring, when the attackers came.

The armed group who abducted Sabatin were reportedly sighted at the area of Monkayo in Compostela Valley Province. Compostela Valley provincial Police Office, accordingly confirmed the sighting.

PRO 13 had already coordinated with the 701st Brigade, the Philippine Army and Police Regional Office 11 for the conduct of hot pursuit operations to track down the location of the abductors and the hostage for the early release or rescue of the abducted police personnel. No communications or demands from the abductors were received yet as of press time.

Meanwhile, CSupt. Rafal had already reactivated and convened the Regional Crisis Management Committee (RCMC) this morning to compliment the efforts of the provincial and municipal CMCs in negotiating for the safe and early release of the hostage. (Noel B. Najarro/PIA-Caraga)