VALENCIA CITY, Bukidnon (PIA)--Vice Mayor Teodoro Roteo Tasani Pepito said there is a need to refocus education, which he said is the number one response against poverty, among other advocacies, during his interview with Aspirations for Good Governance Interviews with Newly Elected Officials in Bukidnon.
Pepito, during the interview, June 23, 2022, said this even if he maintained that they would leave it to the city mayor to lay put her administration’s agenda.
“Our advocacy would be how to strengthen the legislative body that once there are policy decisions we need to make, we ensure that our action would reflect the general sentiment of the people,” he added.
Pepito responded to the interview by the Piniyalan Reporting Governance Community Project 2022-2025 as a follow through to the “Aspirations for Good Governance Focused Group Discussions and Consultations” held in March to April 2022. Project organizers developed the guide questions based on the inputs by citizens of around 40 representatives from around 20 organizations and sectors in both Malaybalay and Valencia cities.
He said the new city council vows to make their proceedings transparent by adopting other platforms to make deliberations available to the public. He added that they would ensure proper budget deliberations to lobby with the local chief executive and department heads to consider programs based on consultations with the people.
“As to programs, we will leave it to the local chief executives because she is the captain of the (city’s) ship,” he added.
In his inaugural speech on June 28, 2022, he assured the people of Valencia City that the 9th Sangguniang Panlungsod will work together with the City Mayor even if the members of the council came from different parties.
He said they would serve “not over, not under, but together with the City Mayor.” Pepito defeated in the May 9, 2022 election the running mate of re-elected Mayor Azucena Huervas, Dr. Policarpo P. Murillo IV.
“You have our assurance that the (SP) will always be fair, just, and reasonable; however we will also be firm. After all, we serve the same city, people, and God,” he added in Cebuano.
Dialogue with Department of Education
Pepito said proper education could address many of the current issues faced by Valencia City so he pushes for revisiting the education system itself.
“Education is the number one response to alleviate poverty,” he added.
He said there is a need for a dialogue with the Department of Education to fine-tune some policies that are too tasking for the parents and the teachers like the mandatory contributions during Brigada Eskwela.
Education is vital, he said, but it should refocus on what are the most significant matters that does not necessarily contribute to the financial struggle of the poor families.
Pepito said the Valencia City Local Government Unit has been offering educational assistance especially to college students. He committed to continue and support this intervention.
Education that is more accessible
He also vowed to support proposals for Madrasah, indigenous peoples, and persons with disabilities (PWD) education. He encouraged the movers of the sectors to officially send a written proposal.
Pepito said he wanted to improve education in such a way that they will support the building of classrooms beside indigenous peoples (IP) Tulugan or tribal halls. He said making education more accessible and available to the youth would also help the youth stay away from drug abuse.
Pepito said he also supports the recommendation of allotting additional budget for the Technical Vocational Training.
He added that in-demand courses abroad such as SMAW or Shielded Metal Arc Welding should be the focus of additional budget for Technical Vocational Training considering the lack of job opportunities in the locality.
Pepito advocates for public and open dialogue with different sectors to fine-tune existing policies and pushed for a transparent discussion on possible improvements.
“This includes a thorough budget deliberation thru a need-based result after consultation with the people,” he added.
Acknowledging the authority of the Local Chief Executive to articulate their plan of programs, he vowed to ensure a strategic plan on the Budget Ordinance of 2023 for the successful implementation of the policies and projects of the city government.
Aside from the goal of building more roads to promote job opportunities and tourism, Vice Mayor Pepito believes that there is a need to have alternatives for common day jobs.
He said it could be a good strategy to provide education to citizens about online freelancing jobs. He said this could be a a good strategy with programs to strengthen the city’s internet connectivity and to lessen the unemployment rate.
“I will support all kinds of anti-poverty programs,” he added.
But Pepito admitted that one of the challenges for the local government would boil down to the decreased National Tax Allocation for next year as an effect of the COVID pandemic to the economy.
He said one of their proposed anti-poverty mechanisms is to institutionalize a one-stop-shop of social services in the city to avoid politicizing this service. He said they recognized that health emergencies is one of the reasons why Filipinos go out of budget.
He said they would re-evaluate the parameters for service “uninfluenced by politicians”.
MSMEs and agriculture
Pepito said he supports the interventions from other local and national agencies related to livelihood and agriculture “as long as it is well implemented in the local level”.
He cited that when supporting livelihood such as Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), there must be a system for the proponents’ accountability on the project. At present, he also sees the need for a dialogue to identify the needs of the MSMEs to recover from the pandemic.
Pepito said there is a need to support local agricultural products.
He also urged implementers of various projects for agriculture to hear the voices of the farmers. The kind of seeds and fertilizers of their choice must be considered since they know what fits the season and their cropping style.
He saw the Rice Tariffication Law as advantageous in terms of added machineries but he said there is a need to reorganize farm cooperatives to give opportunities to the small farmers.
Pepito has suggested for a reward system for the Lupon ng Tagapagpamayapa of the Barangay Government units to resolve as many amicable cases as possible to avoid congestion in country’s justice delivery system considering the shortage of courts in Bukidnon.
The new vice mayor has also pushed for the privatization of garbage collection system in Valencia, putting up of provincial hospital in the city, and the passing of a Divorce Law that will benefit battered wives or husbands. (PINIYALAN Reporting Governance Community Project/PIA-Bukidnon)