A single lesson in two key local governance issue
posted 4-Jan-2019  ·  
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As the year 2018 draws to a close, the people of Catanduanes plays witness to two events that show how good things can be done when people work together or how a simple, perfunctory responsibility turns government against the people it is sworn to serve.

The first event is the lengthy process concerned legislators in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and local assessors refer to as the general revision of property assessments and classifications supposed to be conducted by the provincial board every three years.

In 2017, the SP Committee on Ways & Means headed by PBM Rafael Zuniega, working with the provincial assessor and the municipal assessors under the latter’s supervision, began the job of updating the real property records of the province of Catanduanes using the Schedule of Market Values (SMV).

Prior to determining the final SMV, the assessors reportedly consulted real estate agents on the selling price of real properties, particularly lots near the national highway and within the business centers of each town.

Pursuant to the Local Government Code of 1991, the SP conducted a public hearing on the general revision and its higher SMV on April 5, 2017, where some Sangguniang Bayan members of several towns claimed they were not informed or consulted on the higher market values.

This prompted the board to enjoin the 11 municipal councils to review the SMV and submit their recommendations within 30 days, with the results of the review to be used as inputs in determining the appropriateness and viability, including its acceptability, by their respective constituents.”

Apparently, judging from the stunned reaction of property owners in Virac and elsewhere, the town councils never bothered to verify the impact of the doubled or tripled property values on the real property taxes to be paid by their constituents. Some assessors only submitted the proposed SMV to the Sanggunian and never informed the mayor of the potentially critical effect of higher realty taxes on the upcoming elections.

While the SP has yet to decide on what course of action to take regarding Virac’s request for a moratorium, the issue highlights the failure of government agencies to work as one.

Almost at the same time, the beleaguered Virac Water District, the Virac municipal government and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) presided over the completion of new, parallel steel pipeline in the Cauayan source that finally brought 24-hour water supply to thousands of homes in several upland barangays.

That Mayor Samuel Laynes managed to secure much-needed funding for the project and the DPWH Catanduanes finished the project by the end of the year as promised, with VIWAD doing its part of installing the PVC piples needed to complete the key project, is testament to the many benefits of working together.

The fact that the VIWAD board of directors led by Chairman Gabriel Tejerero endured harsh criticism from parched concessionaires for months speaks well of their patience and perseverance amid the logistical challenges they and the DPWH faced in undertaking the parallel pipeline.

Their vital job of ensuring that the people within VIWAD’s coverage area get 24 hours of clean and adequate potable water means rest would not be coming for VIWAD personnel due to the rapidly expanding commercial and residential areas of the capital town.

This initial success is the benefit that results when two or more agents work together to achieve something either one couldn't have achieved on its own.

For better local governance, all local government units in Catanduanes, as well as their partner agencies, should take into heart that singularly effective concept of “the whole being greater than the sum of its parts” - SYNERGY.

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