MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/06 April) – Economy, education and the environment topped the list of issues that voters said should be prioritized by those who will lead the city government in the next three years, according to results of three focus group discussions held in February released this week by Bukidnon News.
The FGD participants listed at least 30 issues conducted by the community news organization as part of the Dialogue Bukidnon: Piliay 2013, a documentation and research project. Piliay is the Cebuano word for elections.
The economic issues include housing for the poor, capital for farmers, regulation of motorcabs and multi-cabs, pricing mechanism to protect farmers, poverty, unemployment, relocation projects for marginalized groups, and low interest rates for commercial and agricultural loans.
For education and human resource development, the issues of the prevalence of dropouts and child labor stood out.
Protection of the city’s remaining pine forests, upland farming that has encroached into protected areas, mining, logging, waste management and disasters were among the environmental issues cited.
Health concerns such as proper nutrition among children, delivery of health services, drug addiction among youth, and support to health centers also surfaced.
Thirty-three representatives from various sectors joined the FGDs, the first step in the three-stage project.
The project has gained the support of the local Catholic Church.
Bukidnon News said the project aims to elicit citizen participation in the 2013 local elections, and document the promises of politicians on the issues raised by the citizens themselves.
Dr. Lourdes G. dela Torre, Bukidnon News FGD lead facilitator and consultant, said in an earlier interview that the project involves the citizens in identifying the issues that politicians should address in their platform of government.
Bukidnon News plans to interview the candidates for mayor and vice mayor in four pilot areas and the candidates for Bukidnon governor and vice governor this month. The interviews will be based on the issues cited by the FGD participants.
The pilot areas are Manolo Fortich in the first district, Malaybalay City in the second district, Maramag in the third district, and Valencia City in the newly-created fourth district.
The third and final stage is the public dissemination of the results of the FGDs and interviews with candidates.
Bukidnon News intends to release the results to print, broadcast, television, and online news organizations.
Organizers said they plan to hold a citizens-candidates forum with partners based on the results.
Loreta Sol L. Dinlayan, lead documenter and a social science teacher at Bukidnon State University said the project will help voters in deciding who to vote on May 13. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)