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Friday, August 23, 2019
PAMPANGA

Zamora-Arceo: Looking beyond mediocrity

Inside Talk

HE is doing it the Magsaysay way. I remember my grandmother’s story about the late President Ramon Magsaysay’s habit of going around the countryside, sharing experiences with common folk like rice planting and fishing. But the President usually arrives unannounced, she said.

Angeles City Mayor Carmelo “Pogi” Lazatin Jr. recently joined the farmers of Sapalibutad to plant rice. The mayor understands the need “to feel” and “to know” and get a first-hand experience of the common life. The mayor said that he wanted to learn to make sure that the city’s program for food security is sound and effective. Good thinking there. The only thing is, this should not be short-lived or else everyone will think that it is just publicity.

The people of Angeles also appreciate the fact that in only less than two months, the good mayor already executed orders that are indeed crucial and reasonable. He ordered a stop on the daily collection of P20 from tourism establishments in the city. The past administration has been collecting this fee which is an additional burden to businesses although they have been paying regular taxes.

There is also the parking fee on public roads. What? Yes, Virginia. The past administration has been collecting parking fees at the Balibago service road in the main business district. How much has been collected and where the funds were used, we don’t know. No transparency there in the same manner that there was no clear report where the P20 tourism fees went.

Lazatin also cleared city market roads. San Nicolas Market was decongested. No more sidewalk vendors and ambulant vendors on site. Most of the DVD sellers are now in private lots near the Ospital Ning Angeles.

He also ordered the release of all birth certificates that have been kept for so long because of patients’ pending hospital bills. Some 3,158 birth certificates were released on time.

So far, Lazatin is getting a big thumb’s up from all over the city. But the game is just starting and he has three more years to prove his consistency. Some people of Angeles may want a high profile manager for a mayor, others may want a person with long experience in government service, but I remember the late President Corazon Aquino’s words that it is the sincerity and the good heart that makes a better leader. Aquino was named one of the most decent and well-loved leaders worldwide.

Just like Magsaysay. Just like Aquino. But sometimes, a leader needs to be like President Duterte. A leader that is both feared and loved is ideal. But if Lazatin cannot get both, he better choose to be loved more than feared.

--oo0oo--

It was reported that a total of 967,000 MT of rice had passed through the Bureau of Customs since the passage of the rice tariffication law. The national government collected P5.89 billion in taxes. We are expecting more supply during the lean months of rice production in the country.

And as of last month, the buying price of palay decreased by 0.06 percent and 17.55 percent the same period last year. This means that the price of milled rice will continue to slope down because of the abundant supply circulating in the country. This is good news to the Filipinos. There was a time when we were buying 1 kilo of rice for P60. Our only prayer is that this news should trickle down to the local markets and hopefully, the price will go as cheap as P35 per kilo.

Competition is also good. Importing rice is not bad at all because we are given numerous choices while the market price of rice continues to decrease. This is healthy enterprise. It will not kill the local rice producers at all because what we produce in the country right now is not actually enough to sustain the nationwide demand. This is due to the conversion of agricultural lands to commercial and industrial zones. The cyclic problem of land use has long been discussed by the left-leaning groups. We may not like their rallies and the protests but they have a point.

If the government continues to convert agricultural lands, we will definitely face huge problems on food security.

So in relation to this, one quick advice to Mayor Carmelo Lazatin of Angeles City: he should ask for an inventory of the remaining agricultural lands in the city, as well as the volume of agricultural produce that reaches the local market. If he is really sincere in ensuring food security on the local level, he better ask the city council to stop land conversions and start a program for food security and sustainability.


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