The first step af­ter elec­tion

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -

ONE mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties lo­cal OF elec­tion the re­quire­ments is given to for­mu­late by the of DILG all an cities Ex­ec­u­tive af­ter and ev­ery and Leg­isla­tive Agenda(ela). This is a process wherein the mayor, the vice mayor, and all their coun­cilors (with the aid of de­part­ment heads) will have to sit down and de­cide what direc­tion will they take in the next three years even if they hate each other. In sim­ple terms, this is a process of align­ment of all de­part­ments in the lo­cal govern­ment so that they would have a guide on how to spend their money as well as check whether they will have tan­gi­ble out­puts at the end of their term.

This plan­ning is very cru­cial and should be taken very se­ri­ously. If done prop­erly, it can set the suc­cess of the 3 year term be­cause the lo­cal bu­reau­cracy is guided as to what to do first and what to pri­or­i­tize. The thing is, most LGUS don’t even bother in­vest­ing time and re­sources on this. Most of the time they sim­ply copy paste old doc­u­ments for com­pli­ance pur­poses while they en­joy the day or two at some re­sort on a paid ‘va­ca­tion.’

The idea of ELA is an­chored on the prin­ci­ple that plan­ning is es­sen­tial be­fore any work is done and that our lo­cal bu­reau­cracy is ac­tu­ally com­posed of two bodies; the ex­ec­u­tive (the mayor and his de­part­ment heads) and the leg­isla­tive (the lo­cal coun­cil). In or­der for any pro­gram to work, there has to be clear col­lab­o­ra­tion of the two bodies so that they see eye to eye and are on the same page as to what to pri­or­i­tize.

An ELA can also be likened to a state of the city ad­dress (SOCA) since it too pro­vides ground for the mayor to lay down his or her agenda and con­vince the leg­is­la­ture to cre­ate laws that will make them hap­pen. But un­like in SOCA, the ELA is more in­ten­sive as prob­lems and is­sues are ac­tu­ally dis­cussed sec­tor per sec­tor. And that pro­grams, projects, and ac­tiv­i­ties are clearly iden­ti­fied to solve the is­sues.

ELA also sets elected of­fi­cials into proper per­spec­tive. You see, when they ran for of­fice, the promised heav­ens to the elec­torates. But in re­al­ity, their pow­ers have ac­tu­ally lim­its much more their lo­cal bud­get. Most of the time, a lot of their promises are not even cov­ered by their func­tions and are im­pos­si­ble to ful­fil within the three year term. With the con­duct of ELA they are forced to re­visit their limited bud­get, their man­dates, and the blue­print of the city as found in the Com­pre­hen­sive Land Use Plan (CLUP) and Com­pre­hen­sive De­vel­op­ment Plan (CDP).

Most of the cities and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties do not have a clear mis­sion of why their lo­cal govern­ment ex­ists. Usu­ally it’s just the plan­ning of­fice craft­ing the ELA, by­pass­ing the process of dia­log and com­pro­mise. Al­most al­ways as well, their usual con­cept of gov­er­nance is build­ing roads, build­ing schools, build­ing hos­pi­tals and build­ing prac­ti­cally all pos­si­ble in­fra­struc­tures.

An­other worth point­ing from how our mu­nic­i­pali

ties func­tion is that the leg­isla­tive de­part­ment is gen­er­ally a pup­pet to the ex­ec­u­tive de­part­ment. The coun­cilors don’t seem to have a good grasp on how cru­cial their pow­ers are and al­most al­ways end up to be just sub­mis­sive to their may­ors.

Suc­cess­ful gov­er­nance is not mea­sured on how many roads our lead­ers built or how many bas­ket­ball courts they have pro­vided us. Au­then­tic gov­er­nance is mea­sured on how the mayor, the vice mayor and the coun­cilors use their re­spec­tive pow­ers to change what food I put on my ta­ble. Let me take Bo­ra­cay for ex­am­ple; is it good gov­er­nance to see how the is­land be­came a world’s tourist des­ti­na­tion when only the rich own­ers of ho­tels got richer while the orig­i­nal in­hab­i­tants got dis­placed some­where else and got poorer and poorer? How is that dif­fer­ent from the Spaniards col­o­niz­ing our coun­try a long time ago?

The only mea­sure of true suc­cess in gov­er­nance in the Philip­pines is how our lo­cal lead­ers can de­crease the poverty in­ci­dence in their lo­cal­ity. That should al­ways be the en­try point as well as the exit. And so be­fore they copy paste their old ELAS for com­pli­ance or ask their bright­est staff to make the ELA for them, per­haps they should think twice and give the process a chance.*

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