The Equal Access to Financial Assistance Ordinance: Leveling the Field for all Bacooreños

Taxpayers complain sometimes about the financial assistance that the government habitually gives to non-income tax payers, viewing the said practice as unfair. On the other hand, indigent Filipinos often complain about the requirement of public agencies for the submission of a Certificate of Indigency before they can avail of financial assistance from the government and considers the said requirement as demeaning. “Mahirap na nga kami, kailangan pa namin patunayan na totoo kaming naghihikahos,” one 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) beneficiary rued to this interviewer.

                The concerns of Bacooreños in both ends of the economic divide where heard by Mayor Strike Revilla while he was still a member of the House of Representatives and it soon dawned on him that the process of granting financial assistance to city residents must not only be done expeditiously – it must also be done fairly and in a dignified manner. Thus, he requested the city council to pass an ordinance that will no longer require the submission of a Certificate of Indigency before one can avail of financial assistance from the city government.

                On July 4, 2022, the Sangguniang Panlungsod passed City Ordinance No. 206-2022 also known as the “Equal Access to Financial Assistance Ordinance” which discontinues the practice of requiring persons seeking financial assistance from the city government to first submit a Certificate of Indigency.  The ordinance also provides that subject to availability of funds, all Bacoor City residents shall have equal access to all financial assistance packages being given by the city government to those in need.“Dahil sa Ordinansang ito, ang lahat ng Bacooreño ay magkakaroon ng mas patas na pagkakataon na makatanggap ng tulong pinansyal sa ating pamahalaang lungsod at ang mga dukha nating kababayan ay hindi na kailangan pang patunayan pa ang kanilang pagiging maralita para lamang sila makatanggap ng tulong mula sa ating pamahalaan,” explained Vice Mayor Rowena Bautista-Mendiola to some city residents who attended the public hearing held prior to the approval of the ordinance.

Faster govt services thru the SBR-BACOOR app

Indelibly etched on the minds of every Filipino is the sight of thousands lined up in various government offices while waiting for the delivery of public services paid for with their taxes. This sad state of affairs became even more stark during the lockdowns mandated by the national government due to the pandemic where multitudes stood in long lines for hours just to avail of whatever assistance local governments could give.

                Mayor Strike Revilla believes, like his departed father, that the Filipino deserves to be served and to be served well. Guided by this principle, Mayor Revilla requested the Sangguniang Panlungsod to pass an ordinance authorizing his office to convert the Special Bacoor Resident (SBR) Card to a multi-purpose software application to be known as the “SBR App” which can be downloaded for free by city residents in their smartphones and can be used by subscribers while availing the various services of the city government.

                On August 15, 2022, the Sangguniang Panlungsod approved Mayor Revilla’s request and passed City Ordinance No. 212-2022 also known as the SBR App Ordinance of Bacoor. Through the said ordinance, the SBR App shall be developed and will soon enable city residents and taxpayers to transact with the city government in the comfort of their homes while using their smartphones. “This ordinance is a game changer,” explained Councilor Rogelio “Bok” Nolasco during his sponsorship speech in support of the ordinance, “because for the first time, every Bacooreño will now have the chance to make use of technology in obtaining fast and efficient public service from the city government.”                When the SBR App is launched, Bacooreños will be able to pay taxes, request for assistance, or file complaints without having to go to the City Hall on a 24/7 basis.

Bacoor  declares war on squatting syndicates

On August 15, 2022, the City of Bacoor formally declared war against professional squatting syndicates through the approval of City Ordinance No. 215-2022 by the Sangguniang Panlungsod which prohibits the construction of new informal settler dwellings in the entire city.

Due to its proximity to Metro Manila, Filipinos from all walks of life began migrating to Bacoor during the 1990’s to build their homes and raise their families.  The influx of new residents to Bacoor continues to this day leading to the identification of the city as a “bedroom community”.

Lamentably, Bacoor also attracted professional squatting syndicates who preyed on absentee land owners and economically challenged families looking for cheap accommodations. Due to the nefarious activities of squatting syndicates, Bacoor now hosts thousands of informal settler families many of whom reside in areas prone to flooding, storm surges, and earthquakes. 

“The city government will no longer condone the activities of professional squatting syndicates who abuse the naivete of the urban poor and deprives landowners of their right to make use of their properties,” explained Councilor Alde Pagulayan when he was asked why he sponsored the approval of CO 215-2022. “Panahon na po na sugpuin natin ang masamang gawain ng mga sindikato upang ang ating pamahalaang lungsod ay makapag-focus sa mas mahalagang trabaho na magbigay ng maayos at marangal na pabahay para sa ating mga naghihikahos na kababayan nang walang pangamba na may mga magsusulputan na mga bagong barong-barong sa mga lugar na binakante ng mga kababayan nating na-awardan ng libre o murang pabahay,” added the chairperson of the Committee on Housing and Land Utilization during his sponsorship speech for the approval of the ordinance.

Through the said ordinance, barangay officials are now required to take active measures in preventing the construction of illegal structures in areas within their respective jurisdictions which is usually how squatting syndicates urban blights in various urban centers.

City Council approves new Revenue Code to boost growth of local economy

The COVID-19 pandemic brought the local economy of Bacoor to its knees resulting in the closure of many business and the laying off of many workers.  To help boost the local economy, the Sangguniang Panlungsod passed the Revised Revenue Code of Bacoor on August 25, 2022 through the approval of City Ordinance No. 217-2022.

The Revised Revenue Code aims to improve the fiscal position of the city government to enable it to jumpstart the local economy through the launching of various projects and programs that will not surely create more jobs for Bacooreños.  Through the revenues that will be collected once City Ordinance No. 217-2022, the city government will also be able to help local businesses increase their income as a substantial chunk of all goods and services procured by the city government are supplied by  businesses based in Bacoor.

“Ang Revenue Code po ay makakatulong na palawigin ang kakayahan ng lokal na pamahalaan na makatulong sa ating mga kababayan na makabangon mula sa pagkakasadlak na dulot ng COVID-19”, said Councilor Rogelio “Bok” Nolasco in his sponsorship speech at the city council for the approval  of the Revised Revenue Code. After the said ordinance was approved, Mayor Strike B. Revilla thanked the members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod for once again rising to the challenge by crafting local legislation such as the Revised Revenue Code. “The members of the city council once again met my expectations and the expectations of our constituents. Through the efforts of our city councilors, Bacoor will now have a better chance of recovering from the damage caused by the pandemic on our local economy,” said Mayor Revilla before he signed CO 217-2022 signifying its formal approval.