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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mayor Salvador Altura Administration

Alimodian Municipal Officials 1980 - 1986

        If history has to record the events of the immediate present, the administration of Mayor Salvador Altura as the incumbent head of the town is phenomenal in several aspects.

The Years Before the Mayoralty
      How Salvador Algabre Altura became the sixth head of the Municipality of Alimodian after the war is quite a history in itself that is deserving of a passing look back.
       In the annals of history of a society, or a small town like Alimodian, there comes a time when a person is born, prepared and obsessed to serve the town’s people through the intriguing and delicate field of politics. And this obsession was made manifest not immediately by the magnitude of his town-oriented accomplishments, but primarily with the struggle, the petty successes and the discouraging failures, he had to experience before he is finally given that opportunity to display the altruism he purports and preaches to practice.
       Salvador Altura had not a less arduous path to the coveted title of the Town Mayor. Handicapped with want of affluence and landlord-influence, he entered the contest in the political arena armed only with an obstinate sincerity and grim determination which, in the intricacy of the modern political scenario, are obviously not sufficient to surmount the advantage of the so-called electoral bread and butter.
       As a neophyte in the field of politics, he was first elected to the Municipal Council of Alimodian in November 1959. He served for the full duration of his term and again in November 1963 as an incumbent official, he was elected for another term as municipal councilor which lasted until 1967.

First Attempt and First Defeat
      Having reaped diverse experience and enough know-how in the conduct of municipal affairs during his stint as a municipal councilor, when the 1967 local elections was called, Salvador Altura stretched his ambition and filed his certificate of candidacy for the office of the municipal mayor. As the forsaken party candidate during the Nacionalista Party pre-election convention, he stubbornly opted to run as an independent Nacionalista candidate with Dr. Alejandro Nery Cruz as his running mate. In that election, running against three other protagonists, Miguel Anas of the Nacionalista Party, Santiago Anam of the Liberal Party, and Manuel Alegrado, an independent candidate, Salvador Altura and his running mate were miserably beaten, ranking third only with Miguel Anas and his running mate Gabriel Alingasa coming out as the clear victors. For Salvador Altura, in his first bid for mayoralty, he suffered his first major political setback.

Second Attempt and Second Defeat
       Maintaining an untainted rapport with his townmates, Salvador Altura’s second attempt at mayoralty came in November 1971 local elections. Joining camps with his erstwhile fellow protagonist Manuel Alegrado, and this time bearing the banner of the Liberal Party, he again ran for the office of the mayor with Mr. Alegrado as his running mate. Again, as if the right time had not yet arrived for either of them, Salvador Altura and Manuel Alegrado were nipped in the elections by the incumbent Mayor Miguel Anas and his running mate Antonio Anibigno. The lack of logistics and political machinery to offset that of their rivals was not even a reason as then they were campaigning against candidates backed by the ruling Nacionalista Party through its powerful patrons.
        That second defeat, however, spelled more than just another political setback in the career of Salvador Altura. Long before he had recovered from the throes of his second consecutive frustrated attempt at mayoralty, Martial Law was declared over the whole Philippines, thereby making the holding of future elections unpredictable and subject to the uncertainty awaiting the country under the new social order. And so suddenly for Salvador Altura, the dream to be a mayor became so distant and seemingly impossible.

1980 Local Elections: Victory for Mayor Altura
        The first local election since the declaration of Martial Law on September 21, 1972 was held on January 30, 1980. Undaunted by his past defeats and his desire to serve burning as ever, Salvador Altura, against the advice of his kin resolved to attempt the third time to get at that elusive mayoralty. Even his former political non-adherents were persuaded and convinced of his resolve so that even they readily gave him their support and precious subjects.
        He and his party cunning under the Independent Party banner lacked the necessary party support and faced the handicap of having as their protagonist the succession Mayor Antonio Anibigno of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL), and Retired Colonel Sergio Alcubilla of the Nacionalista Party. Moreover, because they belonged to an independent and un-accredited political party, they were not afforded the privilege of block-voting (i.e. party voting) which the candidates of the other two camps readily enjoyed as a telling advantage.
        Despite the apparently insurmountable odds, Salvador Altura and his running mate Silverio Amantillo launched their campaign, displaying their charisma and seasoning in the political arena. As he did in his attempts at mayoralty, Salvador Altura decided to visit again all the barangays of the municipality personally, thus reaffirming to the people in the hinterlands his commitment to serve them. The people in turn responded favorably to their appeal. Because the town was eager for a new administration and the communal atmosphere was ripe for the assumption of a man who has not much but a magnanimous obsession to serve his town’s people, Salvador Altura was elected mayor on his third attempt. And as if a fitting reward for all his past political setbacks, he garnered against his closest rival the margin of 1122 votes, the highest ever recorded in the more recent local polls in the town.

The Composition of the Incumbent Sangguniang Bayan
         In the 1980 local elections, elected with Mayor Salvador Altura were his running mate Silverio Amantillo, vice-mayor; Geronimo Balolot (Independent), Cornelio Alejo (KBL), Rene Loredo (KBL), Ernesto Alejado (KBL), Juanita Alinsao (KBL), Angelo S.C. Aninao (Independent), Cirilo Caparanga (KBL), and Emmanuel Adricula (Independent), Sangguniang Bayan members. Later, they were joined in the sanggunian by presidential appointee Encarnacion Anas in April 1980 as the president and representative of the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) of Alimodian, who in turn was succeeded by Rodolfo Anas in April 1982. By virtue of his appointment by the President of the Philippines and pursuant to his position as the president of the Municipal Federation of the Kabataang Barangay (KB), Salvador Altura Jr. was also inducted member of the Sangguniang Bayan in September 1980. Mr. Cecilio Alli continued to serve as the Secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan.
        Mayor Salvador Altura and his fellow elected town officials were inducted into office by Governor Conrado J. Norada. They assumed office on March 3, 1980 amidst lavish and sentiment-evoking ceremonies at the Alimodian Public Market. The traditional “rigodon de honor” participated in by the cream of the town was performed as the finale.
        Mayor Altura’s administration is characterized by cooperation, politically non-partisan public relations, sincerity, hard work initiative, and a conspicuous compassion for the plight of the poor.

The Sangguniang Bayan and the Local Government
         Complement by cooperative Sangguniang Bayan members, Mayor Altura presides over the august body with an open ear to the manifold suggestions and advice of his confreres. Shedding off the political differences occasioned by the election he maintains a non-partisan attitude towards all the members of the sanggunian, thereby creating a common sense of involvement in the community affairs among them. Through this, various resolutions have been passed that proved beneficial to the community.
         Majority of these resolutions pertains to appropriations for infrastructure projects.
         One of the first projects undertaken by Mayor Altura upon his assumption of office was the lighting of the streets with fluorescent fixtures. Taking into consideration the fact that when Mayor Altura assumed office Alimodian was already considered a critical area by reason of the operations of dissident forces in its mountainous portions, the lighting of the streets reduced the town people’s apprehension in travelling about the poblacion, especially at night time and considerably curbed criminality in the town. The intermittent lack of electric power supply, however, remains an inconvenience that even Mayor Altura himself is not capacitated to resolve.
         During the rainy months of the year, the Aganan River often overflows its banks, thus endangering the lives and property of people residing along its banks, and the pumping station of the source of the local potable water supply. Floods were most frequent and destructive in 1980 so that Mayor Altura was prompted to make negotiations with the Ministry of Public Works and Highways for the deepening and rechanelling of the river course. Because of this, the flow of the current to the eastern portion of the town was considerably reduced kaing it temporarily safe to reside therein. Considering, however, that the course of the river is unpredictable is yet the need to construct a permanent embankment along the river side nearest the poblacion.
         Appropriations from the local treasury have also financed many projects in the poblacion and the barangays.

The 1983 SISA Meet
         The Southern Iloilo Sports Association (SISA), of which Alimodian is one of the component municipalities, had for its 1983 district competitions Alimodian as the venue. The competition was participated in by the different delegations from town members of the association: Oton, Tigbauan, Guimbal, Miagao, San Joaquin, Igbaras, Leon, San Miguel, Alimodian and Iloilo National High School. Because of the big number of delegates that trooped to the town, these delegates were housed in the Alimodian Central School, Alibango Elementary School, and Alimodian National Comprehensive High School, the venue of the athletic games.
         Because of the importance and the responsibility attached to the conduct of this event, the town the local government and the local teaching force, especially, had to make major plans and necessary adjustments.
         The athletic field in the ANCHS compound had to be widened and leveled to meet the standard dimensions. To avoid the almost a million peso cost estimate for this gargantuan task, which, after all, the municipal coffer could not afford to defray, Mayor Altura made arrangements with the FF Cruz and the Company which was then hauling sand and gravel in the Aganan River to avail of the services of its machinery. The project was undertaken under the supervision of Mayor Altura himself and was completed in time for the SISA meet with least expense.
        The athletic field now lies expansively at the slope of the hilly back portion of the ANCHS compound.

The Alimodian Water District
        When Mayor Altura assumed office, one of the dominant problems that fronted the municipality was the fact that the people in the poblacion were not provided with better water supply despite the fact that the local government was spending much for the maintenance of the local water system. People whose houses are far from the water source or else are situated on the higher portions of the poblacion were prone to complain that they were deprived of the beneficial use of the potable water.
         Responding to the clamor of the populace, the local government made a feasibility study on the possibility of improving the local water system.
         The feasibility study led to the holding of a public hearing at the public market wherein, pursuant to a resolution of the Sangguniang Bayan, the townspeople were asked whether they were amenable to the local government’s plan to transfer the management and operation of the local water supply from the local government to the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA). This is a special government agency given charge of the organization of the local water districts.
         The townspeople finally convinced of the benefits offered by and economy of the proposal, voted for the plan so that the Sangguniang Bayan, by virtue of Resolution No. 82 series of 1981, transferred ownership, management and operation of the local water supply to the Alimodian Water District (AWD), which was organized on November 9, 1981 as required by the LWUA procedures. The formal turn-over responsibility was on December 6, 1981.
        The local water supply now being owned and operated by a cooperative composed of the consumer/members themselves, and managed by their own officers, therefore spared the local government from the expensive maintenance of the water system and they are now properly served.
Although it still occasionally asks for minimal financial subsidy from the local government, the Alimodian Water District is now operating as a cooperative endeavor.

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