As if the 2.1 million population is not enough, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Camarines adopted a new son, Ferdinand “BBM” Marcos Jr., just for the sake of getting close to the halls of power. But will this adoption solve the issue of poverty in the southern Camarines?
Prior to the 1980 elections, Luis Villafuerte offered the idea of “turugbong na tubo” or literally translated as “pipes or pipelines linked or connected with each other”. According to Luis, being close to Malacanang or the sources of funds could facilitate the flow of the mejoras or largesse to the local government. This could be the reason behind the hasty adoption of BBM as a son of Camarines Sur, and bastardization of the democratic processes in a representative government. Accordingly, the Resolution Adopting BBM as Camarines Sur’s son did not undergo appropriate and massive consultations. That, though, is another story.
The turugbong na tubo mentality, however, proved Luis wrong. Camarines Sur had been given upper hands with Joker Arroyo who once sat as the Executive Secretary of Cory Aquino; Nelly Villafuerte, the wife of Luis, who sat as Trade Undersectary; Jesse Robredo, the kin of Luis who became the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government; then Leni Robredo, the wife of Jesse, who became Vice President of the Philippines; then the Villafuertes and the Andayas in Congress who held the powerful appropriations and oversight committees, among others.
Despite these, Camarines Sur did not become rich. The population even became poorer that from 21%, the Philippine Statistics Authority noted the increase poverty incidence among families to 29.8% — the highest among the six provinces in the Bicol Region. The figure is even higher than the 2015 poverty rate which was registered at 28.5%.
Compared to other provinces in Bicol, Camarines Sur is also the poorest performer in addressing poverty. In 2015, the poorest province is Sorsogon with 46.2% poverty incidence. This, however, was reduced by more than half to 21.7% in 2021. The same with Camarines Norte and Catanduanes. Even Masbate that is included in the poorest 20 provinces in the country along with Sorsogon, was able to reduce the poverty incidence by 15 points. In fact, of all the provinces, Masbate has been performing well that it looks like it wasn’t affected by the showed COVID-19 pandemic.
The members of the Provincial Board also failed to consider the lesson of Legazpi City that adopted Bong Go as a son. The Senator did not deliver. No legislation that directly favors or benefits Legazpi City was ever passed. The facilities and equipments that he brought? Nah, they were paid for by the taxpayers and the only job expected of him was to pass laws. Not even co-sponsoring the declaration of Legazpi as an Independent or Highly Urbanized City, nor at least drafting a resolution that encourages the economic development of the City.
Worse, the members of the Camarines Sur Provincial Board failed to consider the province’s natural edge among other provinces – it’s being the rice granary of the region. With the Kadiwa stores opening, more and more farmers will soon be out of their farms because the subsidies of the Agriculture Department that BBM heads are going to the consumers and not the ones directly engaged in farming. Add the pro-import policy of BBM administration which, though favorable to the consumers, are slowly killing the sectors engaged in agriculture.
Given these, why are the members of Camarines Sur Provincial Board defy logic and the lessons of history? Well, maybe they are still busy kicking each other out in their molehills not realizing that with their political bickerings, Camarines Sur is going down the drain. While looking at the promise of turugbong na tubo, they failed to realize that there is no shortcut to development. Everything is dependent on evidence-based actions, hardwork, and in joining hands with each other towards the common good.