FINALLY, I’m getting somewhere on candidate platforms.

Of course, there’s the usual song-and-dance of anti-corruption and transparency in government transactions. How the candidates are going to do them remains largely vague, however.

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Take the 4th Bishop Media Forum Four that featured Bacolod’s vice mayoralty candidates Vice Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson, Councilor Wilson Gamboa Jr., former councilor Ana Marie Palermo and Johram Alama.

First, the “alternative candidate.” Why he’s called the “alternative,” I have no idea. Alama promised to continue the existing programs on education, urban poor settlers, health and sanitation, among others. But so did the other three candidates. What the difference? Where’s the unbeaten path that he wants to trod on to become the alternative and the maverick?

Alaram wants politics to be “redirected toward the common good rather than for a privilege few who have the money to spend.” No sane candidate would say otherwise. Are these de rigueur platitudes? Please, more details before you call yourself “alternative”.

On the other hand, Gamboa said his first priority program is to restore the dignity of the City Council as an august body. He’s part of the incumbent City Council. For better or worse, he’s part of the deal that sank the council to whatever depths of depravation. Nothing on how he’ll make governance transparent.

But I like his program for the creation of the Bacolod City Technology and Livelihood Development Center to help provide the youth scholarship education, push for more legislative agenda for the creation of more jobs and livelihood and for human development and social services, develop decent and humane relocation sites and to develop growth centers. Jobs and vocational skills training — a potent combination.

Palermo said her legislative agenda is to create a respectable and independent Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council) that will promote good governance, honesty and transparency. Ho-hum, so too the other candidates. I have yet to see what makes her promises different from the rest.

If elected, Palermo will create and institutionalize the City Legislative-Executive Development Council, review and implement existing ordinances, provide the necessary legislation support for poverty reduction through education, health and livelihood opportunities, to ensure the independence and transparency in all legislative actions of the City Council, among others.

Jobs, education, with health thrown in. The problem, though, are the specifics. What kind for education, for example? Health. What about it? Focus on curative over preventive health care? More hospitals would imply that the focus is on curative. Or community-based health care, with emphasis on the preventive. Which is which is unclear.

Sayson talked on the incumbent City Council’s legislative enactments on the Bacolod City Government Center, operation of the new slaughterhouse with double AA standard, more water facilities in the barangays, and rehabilitation of the public markets.

The new City Hall is nothing to crow about.

Nothing’s wrong with the downtown City Hall that can’t be fixed with renovation. But if the money for the BCGC went to providing housing for the ejected informal settlers, I’ll give City Hall a standing ovation. Housing for the poor should taken the priority over that of the local government.

Sayson bragged that the City Council archives inside the Bacolod City Public Library were adjudged as one of the top six public libraries in the country. Well that might be, but what of its computer and internet facilities? A library nowadays isn’t worth its salt without a computer lab and internet connection.

Speaking of internet connections, Sayson said he introduced is the creation of the SP website and they have already purchased the necessary equipment and put in place the required amenities for the implementation of the “paperless system” in the SP effective 2010. I surfed the site. It’s there. Good start.

The web pages listed city ordinances from 2007-2009. How about the bills? Transparency implies that Bacolodnons should be able to access proposed new laws and to be able to provide feedbacks. Didn’t see any COA audited financial reports, though.

And oh yes, no one mentioned about ecological solid waste management or food security? Not their priorities? Somehow, their non-take on the environment leaves me cold.

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