Saturday, July 31, 2021

Atienza: The GET Cebu Challenge


IT IS hard to believe that local elections were held but a few short weeks ago.

Somewhere between Kapa and the proliferation of money scams, between the misguided earth-balling of mangrove forests and hardware stores dumping substandard materials for our homes, we somehow lost the significance of what Cebu, as a community, achieved last May 13, 2019.

On that day, Cebuanos elected into office a new set of leaders, forgoing incumbents in favor of fresh governance. Garcia over Magpale. Labella over Osmeña. Cortes over Quisumbing. Chan over Radaza.

Not that they elected political tyros or unseasoned politicians. One can only presume that those Cebuano voters simply expressed their dissatisfaction with the performance of the incumbent leadership. They clearly want change and expect a better Cebu to rise from the ashes of arrogance and ignorance.

Such a definitive victory should have been enough to make the citizenry go into a permanent state of post-election euphoria.

Yet here we are, barely a month later, and the party is over. The Alcover-Mabatid clash exposed unexpected cracks in our political landscape and heated social media exchanges between the two made one wonder whether the Barug Party may be over as well.

Political analysts are now counting votes from a different perspective. How will the new Provincial Board members and City Councilors vote? How will Mayor Labella deal with a majority BOPK city council? How will Governor Garcia maintain her majority in the Provincial Board?

Meanwhile, over dinner at my friend’s cozy garden terrace, guests agonized over Cebu’s traffic congestion, the escalating garbage problem and issues of environmental degradation.

Yes, the people have spoken. They are frustrated.

Enough of political musing; they say. They reject speculative discussions on shifting party affiliations.

We want action now. We live in an era of 24/7, where long term is one month and short-term is by this afternoon. We want tangible solutions to real problems. Problems like Garbage, Environmental degragation and Traffic congestion.

What can we do?

First, let us ask our newly elected officials and representatives to set aside partisanship and focus on promulgating concrete solutions to three (3) urgent issues: Garbage. Environment. Traffic. (GET). Three (3) is doable number. To set aside political and pecuniary interests on three issues (GET) out of a myriad other possibilities really ought to be doable; don’t you agree?

Second, let us ask the vaunted guardians of our community, the media, to provide focus on GET related issues as well. Be they radio commentators, television newscasters, newspaper columnists, editors, reporters, broadcasters, bloggers, or social media influencers. Be they in digital, video, radio, television or print.

Let us ask media to help us walk their talk.

Let us keep track of Council resolutions and proposed ordinances that cover GET and see how our elected officials vote. We like to keep track of NBA and PBA scores. Why not post a GET scorecard? What and how many GET resolutions did our leaders propose? How did they vote? Did they vote along opposing party lines on GET resolutions to the detriment of the Cebuano community?

Let the various civic organizations, business chambers, religious groups etc. promote GET awareness. Let these influential community organizations commit tangible actions that will focus on Garbage, and the Environment and Traffic. Let’s keep a scorecard on them as well.

These are but a few examples of what Cebu as a united community can realistically do.

What will you personally commit to?

Will you take on the GET Cebu Challenge?


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