Ibaraki Prefecture

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By Neil Honeyman

An Independent View

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


THE recent visit of Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. to Ibaraki Prefecture (Province) in Japan is very welcome. Mutually advantageous connections between provincial areas of different countries will develop rapidly, but it requires the facilitation initiatives of the respective governors to ensure success.

To engender benefits needs a straightforwardly open approach to identifying and solving problems.

Logistics is an issue. One area of economic gain which could benefit both Negros and Ibaraki is the creation of a mechanism in which short term visitors to both provinces could enjoy a welcome break from their daily round. For economic reasons it may well be that, initially at least, there would be more arrivals from Ibaraki to Negros than vice versa.

For those who are taking a short holiday, the journey needs to be pleasant and hassle-free. This means not going to Manila or Tokyo, if possible. Ideally, we welcome journeys where we leave home in the morning and reach our destination before nightfall. After dark travel in a foreign land for an unescorted visitor is not preferred by many.

It is high time for Bacolod-Silay airport to be able to accommodate non-stop international flights by providing the facilities to enable the necessary formalities [(customs, immigration, quarantine (CIQ)] to be implemented. The resources required for CIQ are not onerous. We suggest that all the Negros [both Occidental and Oriental] congressmen use their influence in, for example, budget proceedings to ensure that CIQ at Bacolod-Silay be implemented by 2015 at the latest. Both Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental would benefit from a fully-functioning international airport on Negros Island.

Province to province dialogue between the Philippines and other lands is greatly to be encouraged. Effective decentralization in the Philippines would greatly reduce poverty. Furthermore there is a serious underutilization of human capital in the provinces.

In Region 6 (Western Visayas), 42.8 percent of poor families have at least one member who is a high school graduate compared with 23.8 percent for the Philippines as a whole, and only 5.6 percent for the National Capital Region. It is disappointing that decentralization has not yet become a major political issue. This may change during the 2016 presidential election campaign which promises to be even more vigorous than usual due, partly to the lack of a charismatic Liberal Party standard-bearer.

Strengthened economic ties between Negros Occidental and other lands would generate employment and hopefully, would cause our poverty-stricken high school graduates to benefit.

Governor Marañon mentioned the possibility of Negrense trainees in agriculture, construction, and care-giving in Ibaraki. This, in principle, is to be welcomed. I am sure that Governor Marañon and his Ibaraki counterpart Governor Masaru Hashimoto will facilitate individual opportunities. Streamlining the mechanisms by which young Negrenses may obtain useful experience in Japan is vital, particularly where there is a significant language barrier.

A reciprocal delegation from Ibaraki is expected later this month. This will be an excellent opportunity to strengthen economic and cultural ties between the two provinces.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 16, 2014.

Opinion

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