Text by Henrylito D. Tacio
Photos taken from Facebook
The water crisis is no longer shocking. It has already been predicted. The Nobel-prize winning United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated that by 2080 nearly half the world’s population would be without clean water.
“The necessary sense of urgency is lacking,” said the New York-based United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in a statement. “The facts have been staring us in the face for years. While demand increases, the annual available fresh water supply per inhabitant is regularly decreasing and is expected to fall to an average 4,800 cubic meters by the year 2025 against 7,300 cubic meters in 1995.”
Dr. Sandra Postel, director of the Massachusetts-based Global Water Policy Project, believes water problems will be right there with climate change as a threat to the human’s future. More importantly, higher global temperatures will worsen the current water problems.
“Although the two are related, water has no substitutes. We can transition away from coal and oil to solar, wind and other renewable energy sources. But there is no transitioning away from water to something else,” said Dr. Postel.
Here, in Bansalan – the first-class municipality of Davao del Sur – the problem of water has been with the town for about two decades now. Not that people are having no water but the lack of water, especially when it is needed most.
There are times when people have to use rainwater just to wash their clothes, clean their toilets, water their ornamentals, and in some instances, use it for bathing. There are also instances where people have to wake up in the middle of the night in order to take a pail of water or two, knowing that there would be no water gushing at the faucet in the morning.
So many politicians have tried to solve the problem, but until now, the problem is still around. But there’s good news. A lawyer, who is running for the council, is giving his attention to the water problem which the municipality is facing.
Atty. Kirby Albores Villaraiz – the grandson of Claudio Villaraiz, the first elected vice-mayor of Bansalan way back in 1956 – is keen on putting an end to the miseries of having no water every now and then. That is if he will win in next year’s local election.
“I will file a resolution to conduct an investigation in the aid of legislation for the 20-year-old water problem in Bansalan,” he declared. “That, if in the investigation, there is a necessity to file cases for the management or any stakeholders in the district, I will personally do the same.”
Assuring words, these.
Not only that. He will do more. “I will undertake measures if there is a need to strengthen the different barangay potable water system, provide technical assistance, revisit the policies and guidelines, and help the management for sustainable water to every concessionaire.”
I have personally known Atty. Villaraiz since he was the high school classmate of my niece, Meryl Louise Tacio, at the Nazareth High School. He graduated from the said high school in 2006, a consistent honor student.
Before that, he graduated with honors at Bansalan Central Elementary School in 2002. He took a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the Polytechnic College of Davao del Sur, where he graduated as top 10 in 2010.
Immediately after graduation, he worked at Viacrucis Medical Hospital. At one time, when I was confined at the said hospital, Kirby – as I called him at that time – was my attending nurse. He was such a caring nurse, following up if I needed something.
But he dreamed of becoming a lawyer. My niece said that during their high school days, Kirby would sign his paper with “Atty. Kirby A. Villaraiz.” So, he decided to pursue his dream: he enrolled at Cor Jesu College of Law in 2013. Four years later, he graduated with a law degree.
To become a full-fledged lawyer, he took his bar review at the Ateneo de Manila College of Law for ten months. In 2017, he passed the bar exams with more than 80% bar rating and 98 grades for remedial law.
In 2018, he joined the Cagas Law Office of Vice-Governor Atty. John Tracy Cagas. A year later, he was appointed as technical adviser for political and legal affairs by Bansalan Mayor Quirina T. Sarte.
Since politics is his blood (he is also the nephew of Julian Albores, two-time number one councilor of Bansalan), he could not resist the urge to serve his fellowmen. For two terms, he won as barangay councilor of New Clarin. Now, with three years in the mayor’s office, he has served for seven years now in the government.
But he believes he could do more. That’s why he is running for municipal councilor in his hometown in Bansalan.
In his Facebook account, he said: “I am Kirby Albores Villaraiz, 31 years old, married; a lawyer and nurse by profession. I am a public servant for 11 years in the fields of executive, legislative and private sector. I would say that doing public service has squeezed into my veins.”
Aside from solving the water problem which Bansalan is facing, Atty. Villaraiz has several other priority legislations, which he considered as “the blue print of my battle cry, ‘Serbisyong bago at tunay.'”
Let’s take a closer look at them:
· Support all the legislative and executive agenda of Mayor Sarte for her last and final term that will continue to improve the lives of Bansaleños;
· Push for an ordinance of institutionalizing the “Malasakit Desk” of Bansalan and giving enough appropriation for the indigent residents who need assistance with medical bills, burial expenses, and other life crisis that they may be facing;
· Push for an ordinance packaging for all the tourist destinations in the municipality and further strengthen the tourism office. He would do this in cooperation with the indigenous people groups for the protection of their rights and preservation of their culture and heritage;
· Fight for the appropriation of medical and death insurance for all barangay functionaries who work tirelessly in the grassroots level of Bansalan. That is, if they get sick and die in line with the performance of their duty, the local government would provide assistance and support for them;
· Push for an ordinance providing maximum penalties to those who discriminate against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. He will do the same for persons with disabilities (PWDs);
· Provide free legal assistance to all indigent residents of the municipality;
· Help to disseminate more understanding of the Republic Act 8371 or The Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA) Law. He will also promote stability and cooperation between the tribes and migrants in the ancestral domain;
· Educate and provide a continuous update and make a manual for basic health protocols to barangay health workers and rescue volunteers. This will serve as their policies and guidelines for every management and health teachings in the community;
· Turn Bansalan into a business-friendly town, cut all the red tapes in the processing of license, and heartily help in the implementation of Republic Act 11032 or The Ease of Doing Business Law.
According to Atty. Villaraiz, all the above priorities were formulated after undertaking consultation and identifying problems reported by almost all of the barangays in Bansalan.
“Hence, all these shall be pursued if given the opportunity to serve as one of the municipal councilors in our town,” he pointed out. “Kuyogi mi ninyo, for Bansaleños deserve nothing but the best!”