BAUKO, Mountain Province – Mayor Abraham B. Akilit appealed to local residents and visitors not to be involved in clandestine activities that will result to negative publicity for the municipality that runs counterproductive to their efforts to boost the growth of the local tourism industry.
The local chief executive explained that for the past two years, Bauko had always been in the limelight of news reports on alleged illegal logging activities, atrocities of the New People’s Army (NPA) and the arrest of drug couriers who only used the town as their route to their desired point of destination outside the region.
“We are doing our best to promote the significant growth of our local tourism industry but Bauko has always been in the limelight of negative reports on illegal activities that were committed by outsiders and not even local residents. We are saddened by the fact that our efforts to revitalize the industry that is [sic] supposed to sustain our economy and provide livelihood to our people is being affected by the said negative publicity,” Akilit stressed.
Previously, Bauko was highlighted in media reports because of the arrest of alleged illegal loggers and the confiscation of assorted forest products in Balintaugan followed by the NPA atrocities in Bagnen and lately in Otucan Norte, as well as the arrest of visitors who were transporting marijuana from Tinglayan, Kalinga to Manila via the municipality.
According to him, people who will read the reports will surely have a negative impression on the actual situation in Bauko without understanding the fact that residents are peace-loving individuals and that the local government is exerting its best to sustain the good peace and order climate in the locality vis-à-vis the said negative publicity that they successively got.
Mayor Akilit pointed out that in relation to the latest NPA attack on the tapping point of the Aboitiz-owned Hydroelectric Development Corporation (HEDCOR) Sabangan, Inc. situated in Otucan Norte which is under the town’s jurisdiction, it was unfortunate that the NPA pronouncement only spoke of the alleged injustices and deceit done by the company to the people of Sabangan without mentioning also the long standing request of Bauko to have a share in the royalty paid by the company to the nearby municipality considering that some of its facilities and transmission lines are located in Bauko.
If the NPAs were reasonable enough, Akilit explained that they should have committed their atrocities in Sabangan so as not to disrupt the peace and order situation in Bauko because conflicts that arise in the jurisdiction of the municipality are peacefully settled.
He added that the town’s demand for a share from the royalty that the company is paying to the host communities has been placed in the appropriate documents and that the local government is simply awaiting the company’s response through proper channels, thus, the same should have been done by the NPA and not for the armed group to resort to such armed attack just to gain attention, thereby compromising Bauko’s stable peace and order situation.
He admitted that the recent NPA attack opened the floodgates of the expected influx of military that will be deployed in strategic places in the town which might result to a negative impact on the town’s peace and order situation.