Last 2019, officials of the Business Chambers in Bacolod City send me a set of questions purposely to give them and overview of my position about varipus concerns in this city. They said there will be an opportunity to meet the chambers but I submitted a formal written response even before the meeting. Sadly, no meeting materialized.
I am sharing the full text of what I submitted via email to Mr. Frank Carbon, predident of MBCCI for the public to know.
Response to Concerns Raised by the Business Chambers
By Atty. Jocelle Batapa-Sigue
A true leader is a builder and molder of consensus. I am fully aware that I do not know everything and that I would need to act based on empirical data acquired through extensive research. Policy and action implementation must stem from well-studied strategies ensuing from a series of discussion, the speed of which is based on the urgency of matters. I shall take into account all angles and advise of experts in every field, and the side of all affected stakeholders, both present and future.
I will be grateful to hear from the Chambers your suggestions and insights about these concerns. I am very much willing to listen and I always want a participatory and inclusive leadership.
There are issues below where I need to gather facts based on documents and hence, I reserve my executive direction on such matters.
Please note that although these observations are indicative of my values as a leaders, I would like to extensively and be able carefully weigh all the options, studying all angles, in a time frame of expediency.
SUMMARY OF ISSUES AND OBSERVATIONS:
I – Water / BACIWA Development Plan (Identifying the problem/s and solutions)
- Studies presented even during my time as councilor show that Bacolod will run into a water supply problem for various reasons but mostly because of degradation of water sources. I am the author of the Watershed Protection and Water Conservation Ordinance of Bacolod – and I will ensure that its provisions will be operationalized to ensure supply of water but at the same time conservation of water sources.
- I have always envisioned a collaboration between Bacolod, Silay, Talisay and Murcia with regards to watershed issues.
- In the case of BACIWA, there is a need to review any water purchase agreement to ensure that consumers are protected but at the same time BACIWA is upgraded to continuously stay within a serviceable level.
II – Power Security Plan (CENECO’s P 1.5B CAPEX Requirements)
- Power supply and rates are very sensitive matters especially in terms of building a conducive investment climate. This is part of any investment scorecard especially in ICT-enabled business. We need to look at power supply of CENECO in a more holistic manner, balancing consumers welfare and the cooperative’s efficiency. I need to look into the details and repercussion of these plan. I will be grateful to the Chambers for your suggestions and insights about these concerns.
III – Bacolod City College (CHED – COPC Compliance)
- When I ended my term as councilor – I submitted a proposal which I have not finished to completion – the conversion of Bacolod City College as a Polytechnic College or University – offering both traditional degrees and short term certification courses which is now much needed to develop skills. Just like the Negros Occidental Language and ICT Center of the Province. I also have an approved ordinance creating digital skills courses – software, animation, techpreneurship and other trainings. My stand is to SAVE Bacolod City College, make it compliant with national standards, do everything to make it relevant to job generation program of Bacolod. I want education to be affordable. I know how it is so hard to find means to pay for quality education. I have struggled during my early years as a working student to augment my parents’ finances for my schooling. I believe in the true value of education – I am not going to be where I am today without my education. So I will do everything to improve the quality of BCC.
- Just an update, the city is now also trying to comply with these standards. I will continue all their good initiatives.
IV – Public Markets (Rehabilitation Program)
– Source of Funds (The budget of Bacolod which a team of big data analysts in Manila are now working show how hundreds of millions are wasted in unexplained, unnecessary, useless projects) There is no question that Bacolod can afford the rehabilitation of markets)
– My direction is to rehabilitate the major markets I several phases, professionalize personnel to manage the market as a social enterprise for the city, to make it earn as well as to ensure the economic sustainability of all the tenants of good standing.
V – Road Congestion – immediate inventory of all public roads and creation of holistic strategies to ensure that all public roads are opened to pedestrians, all vendors are accredited and required to follow rules but at the same their economic sustainability will be taken into consideration. The city will create strategies to ensure that well-meaning and law -abiding vendors are given continued opportunity without violating city ordinances.
– Underutilization of Road Networks – will target significant percent utilization within my term
– Illegal Structures – will target significant percent of removal of all illegal structures within my term
VI – Sidewalk and Street Vendors
– Night Market – will conduct inventory and target significant percentage of compliance with all city ordinances
– Relocation Site / Building – I plan to create a very active taskforce to help ensure lawful and humane housing in the city. Support dialogues between landowners and squatters to achieve win-win solutions
– Source of Funds – the city can afford initial support for homeowners including provision of livelihood opportunities if funds are well-managed
VII – Job Order Employees / Ghost Employees (City Hall/Barangay)
– One table / four employees doing nothing – this will definitely not happen under my term. As a councilor, I am famous for “slave driving all my staff to work even beyond office hours, including weekends”. Hiring will also be based on need and merits. Over-hiring is one culprit for mismanaged funds and lack of funds for supposedly more important concerns of the city. I will bring back the moral of public employees. I will discipline public employees and they will all undergo DILG mandated seminars of code of ethics of public employees. Rating systems and customer feedback will be used for departments.
VIII – City Hospital – My key project is a city hospital packaged with comprehensive health cards for indigent residents and health and wellness programs.
– Source of funds – the province has 11 district hospitals but has the same funds as the city. Therefore it goes without saying that the city can afford to run one hospital if funds are well managed.
IX – CLUP / Urban Plan – it is time to create a NEW Bacolod – zoning must be updated. I run into a big problem when I was helping the province accredit the CyberCenter with PEZA because the zoning of the area is “institutional” and PEZA require a zoning of commercial. This was the same with the place where SEDA is now standing – it was classified partially as “institutional/agricultural”. It took a while for me to convince the SP that we amend the zoning ordinance for the specific section of CyberCentre and SEDA. This cannot continue. We need to create order in our zonings. And we need to involve all sector in finalizing the new CLUP as soon as possible.
I plan to create a special composite committee on urban planning composed of public and private sector to finalize a comprehensive urban planning of Bacolod taking into consideration the neighboring cities that form part of the Metro Bacolod.
Just an update. I heard that the city has finished its CLUP. We will need to see it.
X – Sanitary Landfill – I have continuously voiced out frustration against out DUMPSITE. The people of Bacolod is being fooled to believe that it is a sanitary landfill compliant with RA 9003. The city spends almost 400M for solid waste management or 25 percent of the budget of the city – but what is the result. I cannot understand how Bacolodnons continue to believe in all these lies???? RA 9003 has so many components to achieve zero-waste – for many years I have been harping on all these components. In due time, I shall explain the steps to achieve zero waste under RA 9003.
XI – Banago Port Delineation – for the record during my last term as councilor, I submitted a position paper as chair of trade and commerce – taking the stand of endorsing the delineation to allow Banago port’s improvement using PPA funds. BUT because of the objection of BREDCO which is on record – I was the lone voice in the Sanggunian. I always stand against MONOPOLY that hurts people’s welfare. This may be against business viability – but I will stand for what is good for people. Businessmen in Bacolod should know that to make profit is not the only thing in this world. We need to help our community.
XII – Clean Water Act / Septage Compliance – we will inventory all non-compliance and ensure compliance. Non-compliance or violation of health and environmental laws – compliance is a must, non-negotiable for me.
I am also attaching my curriculum vitae and initial priorities for your perusal.
Yours in Service
Atty. Jocelle Batapa-Sigue