Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Seares: Imee Marcos sees 'vision vacuum' for Cebu. More of a leadership crisis.

IN a rare instance during the current campaign for the May 2019 elections, when she has been mostly dodging questions about the Marcos martial law record, her family’s vast wealth and her “dubious” school accomplishments, Imee Marcos talked about Cebu and its “vacuum of vision.”

In an interview with Doris C. Bongcac of Cebu Daily News Digital, posted last April 8, Maria Imelda Josefa Romualdez Marcos, better known as Imee Marcos, former congresswoman and now Ilocos Norte governor who’s running for senator, said a mouthful about us. “The Visayas, particularly Cebu, is experiencing a vision vacuum,” she said, urging local officials to start looking for “potential industries to develop, decide on investments and have a road map or master plan.”

Imee said Cebu is “center of the south and heart and soul of the Visayas.” Cebu leads; the other provinces follow or at least rely on Cebu as a guide, a beacon. “We in Leyte, even Bacolod, Iloilo and Dumaguete look up to Cebu,” she added.

Outpaces others

She is right about Cebu’s leadership in most aspects of progress and growth: business and industry, education, arts, culture and sports. Cebu has outpaced other provinces in the country in investment growth and much of everything everywhere else, except the capital region.

Her concern may be the pouring of government resources into Mindanao, which is disproportionate to what other regions are getting. The president comes from Davao and the excessive attention on the area may be an effort to compensate for the neglect the area has ostensibly suffered under past administrations.

Credit for vision

The vacuum in Cebu is not due to lack of “vision” if one understands the word as the power of imagination, the ability to see problems ahead before others see them, and coming up with the solution, usually novel and ambitious.

Vision used to be attributed to leaders who are trail-blazers in the government and private sectors. Business and industry have never run out of visionaries as survival and growth depend on the creative and the enterprising.

How about in the public sector? Often cited was the late Serging Osmena Jr., former congressman and senator, who conceived and implemented the north reclamation project and moved the airport from Lahug to Mactan. Few others might have done similar feats but hardly stand out except Mayor Tomas Osmeña who is credited for the south reclamation project or South Road Properties. Let’s leave to history the rating of leaders who qualify as visionaries.

Perfected planning

But it’s not for lack of vision or, as Imee Marcos puts it, “vacuum of vision” in government that Cebu is afflicted with. The science of planning has been perfected to an art: both the national government and the regional units have looked forward and done the job of what used to occupy the rare visionaries in the public sector.

For example. Central Visayas, the region Imee Marcos expressed concern about, adopted last Feb. 14, 2017 its Regional Development Plan (RDP) for 2017-2022. It’s the first of four midterm plans until 2040. The plan goes with the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) that totes the catchphrase of its goal: “a stable, ‘matatag’; comfortable, ‘masagana’; and secure, ‘panatag’” life for every Filipino.

What can be more visionary than a multi-faceted plan, spanning two decades, conceived not by just one bright boy or girl but forged and hammered by several people who studied all available data and foreseeable conditions, consulted the public and private sectors and detailed the moves of execution year by year, as far as the planners’ mind could reach?

What Cebu lacks

Cebu may need a visionary less than a leader who can bring together the governor and mayors on a common public cause or project, despite differences in political or private interest, someone who has earned the respect of leaders of business, civic and religious sectors to speak out for Cebu and its people.

Since when did Cebu have such a man or woman who spoke “truth to power” when the interest of its residents called for it? What Cebu has are leaders of political families, clans or blocs whose voices are heard only when their private interest is threatened.

We don’t have a leader in Cebu who towers over the others. How much more for a leader of regional stature?

Former congressman Pablo John Garcia was once asked by media what Cebu would need. He said, “One who in time of crisis will speak for Cebu and the Cebuanos.” Perhaps that voice will emerge among the winners in the May 13 election.


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