Sunday, August 13, 2006

Bantay Puerto:

Protect. Rehabilitate. Plan. These are the program’s key management thrusts. Protect what is there, rehabilitate what has been destroyed, and plan for the intelligent utilization of the city’s terrestrial and marine resources. This is the life cycle that the program envisions for the community to achieve sustainable development.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

City profile


Population : 161,912

Budget : P955.476M {Per year)

Land Area : 253,982 Hectares

Economic Activity : Agriculture, Tourism and Trade

“Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” so the saying goes. And while all LGUs are concerned with it and launched programs to achieve it, only a few seem to have succeeded. The Oplan Linis Program of Puerto Princesa City is undoubtedly the best among the few that succeeded. It has brought instant honor and prestige to a place only previously known as the haven of prisoners and malaria-causing mosquitoes. Through it, the city’s ignominious past had been radically transformed to what it is known today – the country’s model in cleanliness.

The Oplan Linis Program aims to clean up not only the body of Puerto Princesa but the soul as well, the latter being its people. And central to this concept is value formation through massive information and education campaigns to instill in the minds of the people, especially the children who are the inheritors of the future, the importance of a clean environment. And by environment is meant not just the physical but also the spiritual, moral, and psychological aspects.

To comprehensively address the physical cleanliness of the city, Oplan Linis has six major components: Cleanliness, Beautification, Sanitation, Sagip-Dagat, Sagip-Hangin, and Information and Education.

Puerto Princesa City before the program was not unlike many other cities of the country. Its streets were dirty, the public market stunk, its solitary pier in no better condition, and its coastal lines littered with flotsam and jetsam. The local government seemed to have been inured by the dirt everywhere, the people resigned to the “normality” of the city’s pathetic condition. The leadership did initiate cleanliness drives, but very much like those of the other LGU’s, the campaign sputtered.

Only four months into the program, Puerto Princesa was already hailed by many national leaders, mediamen, national and international sports leaders who came to the place as the cleanest city in the country. Considering the area of the city being the largest in the country with 253,982 hectares of land and traversed by 143 kilometers of road from north to south, what the Oplan Linis Program accomplished in so short a time is no ordinary feat.

Behind the astounding success of the program are the people themselves. Once aroused from their lethargy and challenged to be better than themselves as a result of the massive information and education drives among schools, offices, business establishments, and the barangays, they acted as one in initially sweeping and gathering tons of accumulated garbage, and then in seeing to it that no one throws litter anywhere in the city.

It was not easy, of course, especially in the beginning. Even the chief executive himself, Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn, fell victim to old habits that truly died hard. After pulling out the last stick of cigarette, he crumpled the pack and threw it out into the street. Seen by an Oplan Linis volunteer, he became the first Oplan Linis violator to pay the P200.00 penalty for first offenders. The event found its way into the local media - print, radio and television – and became quite a cause-celebre. One senator who came to visit the city also suffered a similar fate.

Pretty soon the people believed that the program was for real. Parents started being amazed at seeing their children from school emptying pocketfuls of trash. Adults seen by children littering were feeling awkward and embarrassed after being scolded by the latter. Until the whole population took the program with a happy and leisurely acceptance, and it became finally internalized in their systems.

Some two and a half years later, on 14 December 1994 to be exact, Puerto Princesa was formally declared the Cleanest and the Greenest Component City in the country. Its 98% rating over the 95% garnered by Baguio City as the Cleanest and Greenest Highly Urbanized City technically makes Puerto Princesa the cleanest city of them all.

If one were looking for outstandingly successful local government programs, Oplan Linis is it. Its success is not only in terms of actually and immediately cleaning and greening the city, but also in sustaining the cleanliness effort. Puerto Princesa again bagged the 1995 Cleanest and Greenest Component City Award scoring a near perfect 99.8% rating. In 1996, it received the Hall of Fame Award for having been declared as the cleanest and greenest component city for three years in a row.

Moreover, the beautiful relationship that evolved between the city leadership and the citizenry in the course of the Oplan Linis campaigns encouraged the former to venture into other programs and projects that likewise became phenomenal successes.

Note: This Program was chosen by the Asian Institute of Management as one of the ten most outstanding local government programs, and was awarded the Galing Pook Award.