Friday, September 21, 2012

How Is Iloilo City Under Mabilog? (Part 2)

I did not expect that the column I wrote here entitled “How Is Iloilo City Under Mabilog?” would create such a furor. The column elicited many “interesting” comments in the Daily Guardian website and a reply from no less than the Public Information Officer of Iloilo City, a certain Mr. Yobsky Espejo, Jr. and Mayor Mabilog’s spokesperson Jeffrey Celiz labeled me as “no better than a plagiarist.” To those who were unable to catch it, my column talked about a 2009 “State of Local Governance” report posted on the website of the Bureau of Local Government Supervision (BLGS) under the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). In a word, the said BLGS-DILG Report painted a very negative picture of Iloilo City (the report can be accessed online here). 

I don’t personally know this Jeffrey  Celiz and his educational attainment level, so for his benefit I will give him the definition of what constitutes plagiarism. A plagiarist, Mr. Celiz, is “a person who passes off the work of others as his own.” The fact that I acknowledged the BLGS-DILG report (and even posted its url address in my column so that anyone with an internet connection can see it for themselves) definitely does not qualify me as a plagiarist. I hope this settles the matter once and for all. 

I chose the title “How is Iloilo City Under Mabilog” because I honestly don’t know the answer. Of course, anyone with an IQ of 86 has an opinion about whether Iloilo City is better or worse now under Mabilog. But that would remain in the realm of opinion, not fact. I never hid the fact that the said report was done in 2009 (covering the previous Treñas administration) and if there is anyone who should be defensive about the BLGS findings, it should be Congressman Treñas, not Mayor Mabilog.

But the fact remains: no one really knows the true state of Iloilo City. The people are bombarded with self-serving propaganda from various political camps, but no one bothers to study the statistics. No one bothers to investigate whether the various City Hall programs implemented really result to positive outcomes. The problem is, certain City Hall employees seem to equate winning an award with achieving real, tangible, positive results in the lives of ordinary Ilonggos.

In the Daily Guardian website, PIO Chief Espejo enumerated to me the various awards Iloilo City garnered over the past 26 months as self-evident proof that Iloilo City has attained development. I told him that I am already aware of the various awards (one really cannot help but notice all the Mabilog banners trumpeting it all over the city). My question to him is: “nga-a?” What has Mabilog specifically achieved for Iloilo City to merit all the awards? For example, I asked Mr. Espejo what is the basis for Iloilo City winning the Livable Communities Award in 2010 but the answer I got from him was a vague “Iloilo City got the award because it is deserving." You have to give us the facts Mr Espejo because biskan sin-o nga tarpulano will wonder how Iloilo City can be adjudged "Most Livable City" amidst the weekly brownouts, baha, water supply, traffic, squatters, etc. sa siyudad. Only the hard facts (i.e. official data, statistical figures, etc.) will help us discern the true state of Iloilo City today. 

And so, I am issuing a challenge to City Hall to release the answers to the following questions:

1. State of Health and Nutrition – What is the crude death rate in Iloilo City for 2010 and 2011?  What is the child malnutrition rate for the same period? What were the Top 10 Causes of Morbidity?
2. State of Education – What is the primary, secondary and tertiary education completion rate in Iloilo City for the years 2010 and 2011? What is the current Simple Literacy Rate of the population? What are City Hall’s programs to raise the quality of human capital in Iloilo City?  
3. State of Housing and Basic Utilities – Out of the total 16,000 squatter-households in Iloilo City, how many have been relocated and provided decent housing? And are there basic utilities (running water, electricity, schools, etc.) available in the relocation sites?
4. State of Peace and Order – What is the Index Crime and Non-Index Crime figures in the city for 2010 and 2011? (Index crime refers to murder, homicide, physical injury, rape, robbery and theft; Non-index crimes pertain to crimes against national security, fundamental laws of the state, public order, public morals, violations of special laws, illegal gambling, illegal possession of firearms, carnapping, illegal drugs, kidnapping, serious illegal detention, and smuggling). What is the Crime Solution Rate for the same period?
5. State of Employment – What is the rate of unemployment and underemployment in Iloilo City for 2010 and 2011? How many new enterprises were established? How many businesses closed down for the same period?
6. State of Income – How many families are living below the poverty line? What is the extent of poor households (as a percentage of the total population) in Iloilo City? How many families have been lifted out of poverty in the years 2010 and 2011?
7. State of Urban Ecosystems – How is the air quality in Iloilo City? What is the extent of tree cover in urban areas? Are there enough green areas/open spaces in Iloilo City and what is the pace of conversion of tree-covered areas into urban developments and subdivisions?  
8. State of Coastal Marine Ecosystems – How many squatter households are living along the coastline and what is being done by City Hall to relocate them? What has been done to address marine pollution?

The above questions are the criteria used by BLGS-DILG “State of Local Governance” report to measure the level of development in a particular area (I deleted the question about agriculture as Iloilo City is already highly-urbanized and no longer a primarily agricultural area).  

Again, I would like to reiterate my appeal that instead of inundating the public space with his posters, Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog should order his personnel to release all information, both the positive and negative, to the public and let the people decide for themselves whether his “Premiere City by 2015” hoopla has real merit or is merely self-delusional propaganda. 

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