Friday, November 23, 2007

The Municipal Administrators of Tukuran and Their Achievements

Executive Order 323 signed by His Excellency Carlos P. Garcia on November 29, 1958, made Tukuran a municipality. Its first Mayor was Felomino Villamero who was appointed on April 1, 1959. In 1986, after the dictatorship of Marcos, Isaias Barrido was appointed as the municipal mayor of the municipality of Tukuran.

The Isaias Pama Barrido Administration (April 1986 – November 30, 1987)

In 1986, after the Marcos dictatorship ended through people power popularly known as EDSA revolution, Secretary Aquillino Pimentel Jr. of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) ordered that all elected mayors throughout the country should be replaced as part of the Aquino governments reorganization program.[1]

Isaias Barrido was appointed as officer-in-charge of Tukuran and Bueno E. Cadungog as Vice-Mayor. The following were the councilors; Teodoro Facto, Omarcaisy Managantal, Fredeswindo Tibor, Leopoldo Santos, Leonides Lauron, Romeo Respicio, Eduardo Salon, and Francisco Capul as ABC President.[2]

The appointed mayor came from a high-esteemed family.He was a resident of Camanggahan, Curvada, Tukuran and was once a forest ranger in Baclay nursery, a reforestation project of the national government. He once lived there together with his wife and his only daughter. In 1977, an article of Pagadian Times showing Barrido as Mr. Tree of Zamboanga del Sur being the busiest man planting and nurturing tree seedlings. His sincerity as a public servant led to his appointment as OIC Mayor. This started his political career in Tukuran.[3]

The first challenge to his administration occurred on October 24, 1986 at about 1:30 p.m. due to the intense operation of Philippine Army against the CPP-NPA in Libertad-San Antonio-Upper Tagulo hinterlands. A mistarget from the Philippine Army to artillery shells landed in Curvada rice fields. The shock scared the people residing in the Barangay. People ran for cover while the Army detachment prepared for an action only to find out later that the artillery was not intended for Tukuran. Hundreds could have been killed if it landed in the public market.[4]

During his term he managed to have rehabilitation project intended for the Barangay people affected by the raging forces of PA and CPP-NPA.

The Designated Officials

Barrido and his appointed councilors planned to run in the 1988 election. All of the officers resigned in accordance to the law. The DILG officer Idelfonso S. Catane was designated as municipal mayor and served on December 1 to 15, 1987. After the meeting made by the council, a set of officer was appointed and who served on December 6, 1987 to February 1, 1988 were Eduardo Salon as Mayor, Nicanor Suarin as Vice-Mayor and the following were the councilors; Ramiro Nugpo, Diamare Ara, Jorge Cabal, Rufino Lerin, Elsie Tampos, and Eusebio Oliverio as ABC President. Due to the shortness of their terms there were no significant resolutions except to continue the project of the past administration.[5]

The Bonifacio Vega Administration (February 8, 1988 to June 30, 1992)

In 1988, the new government of President Corazon Aquino held in the entire Philippines a local election for public officials. Bonifacio Vega ran for public office. His contenders were; Isaias Barrido, Lloyd Tria, Ponciano Ponce and Dr. Antonio Jimenez. Vega won the election.[6]

The elected mayor had a seven-year experience of being a municipal secretary of Aurora, Zamboanga del Sur and another seven-year experience as a municipal secretary of Tukuran. He was a very active leader in terms of civic and socio-economic program of the government. During the campaign period, his primary platform was to restore the peace and order of the town. His term was characterized as the height of the CPP-NPA and PA struggle. One of his great problems was the Tagulo incident. This was an operation conducted by the military and was led by Edwin Respicio, a second lieutenant. While in operation due to the struggle of CPP-NPA, some fifty-armed men fired at them. The rebels ambushed them in the commanding grounds a strategic place held in a plateau. There were seven casualties in the side of the government including the Barangay Captain of Camanga. No casualty in the rebel sides, the PA strongly believed that it was done by the CPP-NPA.[7]

Because of the struggle of the two raging forces his administration adopted through the advice of the military, the policy of hamleting. This is a system wherein people living in their farms were required to live on near accessible roads or areas. Some of the Barangay people lived in concentration camps to secure the safety of their lives. All twenty-five barangays were hamleted and guarded by the Philippine Army.[8]

As the result, farmers suffered since sixty five percent of the population of Tukuran depended on the agriculture, it had a devastating effect on the farmers.[9]

In the eyes of the NPA’s hamleting was in favor to them because there were no farmers to support them in any forms of food, clothing and even shelter. The church viewed it as a human right violation. One time the Mayor received a death threat saying that, “Mayor, ayaw pag-adto sa Tagulo aron walay dautang mahitabo nimu.” (Mayor, don’t you go to Tagulo so that no harm will happen to you). But he and his councilors continued to do their job since they knew that they had not committed corruption against the masses. Because of the death threat and the growing strength of CPP-NPA forces his administration and with coordination of Philippine Army they conducted a seminar to sway CPP-NPA supporters and hard cores in the town to take their side. According to PA,the communists had influenced the business sector up to eighty percent. There were 1218 surrenderees in barangay Curvada, Baclay, Tinotongan, San Antonio, Libertad, Militar, Sto. Rosario, San Carlos and Alindahaw. The municipal government appropriated 14,000 pesos for this three-day affair. ALSA-MASA was organized to support the government against the enemy by reporting the hide outs of the NPA’s.[10]

Some of those suspected of being member of CPP-NPA were arrested. The people feard military mean because many of their neighbors were picked up at night. Talking can cause life, many people were very careful in dealing with the issue. The mayor was often asked by the people to seek from the military about their lost relatives. As the mayor did this often, the military viewed him as a protector of the communist. He had a hard time solving the main problem of the municipality. Another incident that challenged his leadership was a rally organized by the church. Father Bida Belotindos refused to administer the last rites to three cadavers as a form of protest to the military and instead caused a funeral march and indignation rally at Thessa stage on September 18, 1988. The funeral took place but not the rally since the vice-mayor Francisco Dosdos did not issue a permit to avoid trouble between the protestors and the government side.[11]

The Bonifacio Vega Administration (July 1, 1992 to June 30, 1995)

Bonifacio Vega was elected for the second time as a municipal mayor. Marcelino Rota was the vice mayor and the following were the coulcilors; Rosalio Velayo, Andam Mamasalagat, Edna Bascon, Jovie Malalis, Felix Ocampo, Teodoro Facto, Leonides Lauron, Jared Sayson, Francisco Capol as ABC president and Jossiebel Bongo-Calunsag as SK Federated President.[12]

Vega knew that he would meet the same problem in the office. During campaign period, his contenders were Isaias Barrido, Antonio Jimenez, Idelfonso Catane, Loloy Rota, and Lloyd Tria.[13]

The horror of CPP-NPA and PA struggles slowly faded and gone this was because of the implementation of the various projects both socio-economic and socio-cultura.Thisl made the thinking of the MASA a supporter of CPP-NPA people that the present administration do not turn its back to the oppressed people. At last, people could take a rest from the raging forces. The focus of his administration was changed to the development of the town with the help of the provincial and national government. Again rehabilitation programs were implemented the barangays. Their aim was to make the displaced people in the concentration camps or hamlets repatriated to their farms in order to produce agricultural products. They made an attraction policy in the forms of Bayle a disco, organized tabuan or parian a market day in every barangay, and disseminated proper information to the people that the conflict of the two forces was over. Gradually, people returned in their farms. In the case of Sto. Rosario, people were hesitant to return to their farms because of the CPP-NPA still controlled the barangay due to its strategic location.[14]

The implementation of various projects like gymnasium a part of socio-cultural infrastructure project was started by the Vega administration. Day Care Centers were put up in different barangays and the service of the DSWD was strengthened.[15]

Provincial port was constructed that cost seventy million, although not fully realized due to the lack of budget and funds. Concreting of some of the municipal streets had been undertaken. Sikad-sikad driver were much buoyant for they were the direct user of everyday routine. Militar Bridge was started and rural barangays had been developed.[16]

When the 1995 election was advancing, he planned to run but his physician advised him not to engage in stressful activity for he had undergone bypass operation. He had many plans for the town but his physical condition did not permit him. With the advice of his avid political friends, with the consent of the pioneering families and assent of the people he fixed his support to Isaias Barrido for he found him competent in running the municipality under the banner of Lakas-NUCD.[17]

The Isaias Pama Barrido Administration (July 1, 1995 to June 30, 1998)

In the 1995 election, Barrido was under Lakas-NUCD. With the blessings of the former mayor he won the election out of Antonio Jimenez, Lloyd Tria, and Marcelino Rota as his contenders.[18]

He was a very energetic and dynamic leader. He looked up to all people of Tukuran as equal, no discrimination whatsoever and he gave them equal attention. Moreover, he was known for his thriftiness. A native of Iloilo, an Ilongo for sure. He alloted budget for the maintenance of the project started by the past administration. The mayor continued to support the programs of former Mayor Vega.[19]

Municipal concreting was one of his main programs. The unconcreted road left by the Vega administration was finished. Almost all of the municipal streets had been concreted. People were much satisfied on the performance of the newly elected municipal mayor. Municipal streets were named after some pioneers of Tukuran.[20]

By the advent of IRA of Internal Revenue Allotment, the barangays comprising the municipality were provided with increase shares of financial resources of the national government to generate their own funds to fully support local developments thrust/objectives plans and programs as envisioned in the 1991 Local Government Code with the aimed of enhancing the delivery of basic services to the people.[21]

The Isaias Pama Barrido Administration (July 1, 1998 to June 30, 2001)

In the 1998 election Barrido won, this was because of his good performance shown to the public. Marcelino Rota and Lloyd Tria were his contenders.[22]

Livelihood program was his main focus. Caber chicken from Israel was distributed to the farmers with the coordination of specific government agencies to uplift the native chicken found in the municipality.[23]

The construction of the Malabaquid bridge found in Respicio rice fields in Camanga was undertaken to stop the main problem of Camanga farmers due to the annual flooding caused by the overflow of the creek. This devastating effect caused by the siltation had greatly affected the agricultural activity of the people for years.[24]

Because of IRA many projects were commenced by the Barrido administration. He continued the construction of municipal streets, hanging bridge, solar drier of the barangay’s, water reservoir, basketball courts, and farm-to-market roads to fasten the development of rural barangays.[25]

On July of 1998, his council passed a resolution for the limestone quarry and cement plant of the town that would bring 18 billion pesos of the municipality. The JMH International Phils. Inc. based in USA would make Tukuran a first class municipality of Zamboanga del Sur. This investor was being protested by three NGO’s of Interfaith Forum, Parish Pastoral Council and Tukuran Muslim Jama Ah. The first two NGO’s were Catholic Church based and the last was from Islam condemning JMH for it could caused degradation to the nature and will marginalize fisher folks of the town.[26]

There were bombings and related incidents allegedly connected to MILF but this tension did not alter the socio-economic development of the municipality.[27]

People were suspicious when the unfinished fish port of the past administration was undertaken. Barrido knew very well that this port could bring advantage to the local government revenues.[28]

Tourism was developed. The provincial road of Panduma-San Carlos was concreted so it may enhance visitor to come the historic beach of Tukuran. The construction of LGU Beach Resort boosted the morale of Tukuranuns in having beautiful cottages owned by local government. Although personal problems arise in the last few months of his second term it did not destruct his good performance.[29]

The Isaias Pama Barrido Administration (July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2004)

In 2001 election, for the third time he was elected out from his strong contenders. One of which was Bonifacio Vega Jr. the son of the man who gave blessings to him on his first candidacy as a municipal mayor. Personal problems continued and in this recent months it seemed to affect his image and rating in general to the problems that surfaced.[30]

In the year 2001 his 20% EDF or Economic Development Fund was utilized for the 22 various socio-economic projects to uplift the profile of the municipality. The town gained 1.8 million surpluses. This 20% EDF went to the repair and maintenance of the municipal streets, improvement of drainage system, construction of new public market, construction of new public cemetery, water system of rural areas, and sea wharf along poblacion. The development of the municipality was focused in the poblacion for the Barrido administration strongly believed that this is the show window of the municipality.[31]

[1] Barrido Interview

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] R. Respicio Interview

[6] Vega Interview

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Ibid.

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