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Rough Cuts | A novel way of engaging the people

Years back, developments at the Davao City council indicated that the local lawmaking body was expanding its venue for policy formulation. The council was starting to tap social media platforms, specifically Facebook, in sharing ideas as well as in discussing then. It was apparent that the members of the Sanggunian were already poised at engaging with each other in debating issues not only inside the session hall but in the realm of cyber space.

Possibly, they believe that in such scheme they will be able to get their constituents to participate in the discussion of relevant issues thereby getting a direct feedback from them.

In November 17 of 2014, roughly five years ago last Sunday, we read in the papers that then Vice Mayor and now first district congressman Paolo Duterte issued a warning to councilor Danilo Dayanghirang, then, and until now chair of the powerful committee on finance, ways and means and appropriations, that he was set to challenge a policy invoked by the second district dad in clipping allocations in the city budget for the purchase of luxury vehicles for local lawmakers. The policy though, actually emanated from then Davao City Mayor and now President Rodrigo Duterte, the then vice mayor’s father.

Then VM Pulong’s warning to Danny was posted in his Facebook account in November 15 of that year.

While on our personal capacity we had been advocating for the purchase of the more sturdy vehicles – not necessarily the luxurious SUVs — for councilors because we personally know a good number of them have constituents in far-flung and rugged areas. However, during that time, we have to give way to the fact that the then mayor already made a pronouncement against buying vehicles that he considers luxurious in the light of the city finances then.

We believe though, that anyone who challenges a policy or policies emanating from the city chief executive, including future ones, he or she have seen the reason or reasons of the protestations, silently or overt, of those who stand to be affected.

In the case of the policy that was then contradicted by the former vice mayor, it is our take now that his challenge somehow succeeded. We are now witness to members of the City Council, especially those from the second and third districts, using sturdy vehicles carrying luxurious brands. Of course they can have easy way out explaining that their areas cover some of the most scorned places in the city’s hinterlands.

But is Facebook posting of any intention to question policies even before these are properly put in the hallowed halls of the Sanggunian for deliberation the appropriate way of starting a debate on such matters?

Some may argue that the scheme could be similar to putting the cart before the horse. Personally however, we believe that the mode the former vice mayor and now congressman started should be pursued as a regular course of action — or as a matter of policy itself.

Why, because in bringing to the social media proposed policies of vital import to the people the one who makes such posting is triggering an open discussion on issues that are very likely to impact on the entire society.

After all, as stakeholders, Davaoenos have every right to participate in molding opinion that may affect the decisions of those charged to craft the policies and implement these in the city’s day-to-day governance.

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We are happy to note that on a month-on-month basis there is substantial increase in the amount under the item Share from Pagcor/PCSO based on figures in the monthly Revenue, Receipts and Disbursements of the Davao City Treasurer’s Office.

It is not reflected in the report how much of the remittance increase came from PAGCOR and how much from PCSO. But it really doesn’t matter at all. What is important is that both national gambling entities remitted the share that is due Davao City.

We are all aware that the city now has a population of some 1.7 million people including transients. A good number of these residents are dependent on the government for needs specifically health. To effectively respond to this requirement of the constituency, the city needs to have a bigger resource base. It is just right that the gaming agencies like PAGCOR and the PCSO make good their mandate to assist host cities or municipalities foot the local governments’ social bills by remitting religiously the latter’s share.

Both PAGCOR and PCSO deserve our heartfelt THANK YOU! Sa uulitin buwan-buwan, ha?

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The lowest registered receipt in City Treasurer’s Office report of Revenue, Receipts and Disbursements is still the City Library. This is under the item Library Fee. If we have to assume that the amount is derived solely from the patronage of the city library, then it is easy to deduce that there is deterioration in the number of library users. No thanks to the internet?

On the average, the amount is the product of roughly a little over P4000 in monthly collections since the start of this year. The figure cannot even pay for the monthly salary of a staff helping run the library. Perhaps the city should do something to prick the consciousness of the Davaoenos that there is a public library that they can go to do some research for them to know their city and even discover themselves as a people.

But maybe the first major step that the city has taken to address the issue on the city library patronage is already being done with the construction of a new building that will soon house the library. The building is very accessible for everyone. And from the looks of it, the future house of the library could be a much more enticing destination for students and researchers as well as those who take reading as a habit.

And yes, may be, if the city government wants to push its people into learning about their past to be able to gain insights of the city’s future, it has to give the Davao Historical Society a significant space as part of the library.

There may be stories untold in available reading materials in the library’s inventory but can be given by the Davao Historical Society through its own compilation of books and other periodicals. And there are also relevant video presentations.

Can we expect the chair of the City Council Education Committee chair in Councilor Pilar Braga to deliver the plea to the City Mayor? Madam Pilar please!

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