REPORTS of too many casuals and job orders in Negros Occidental provincial government built during the reign of outgoing Governor Marañon is something that governor-elect Bong Lacson will have to address within the framework of how to make the bureaucracy lean and mean, and yet delivers results with efficiency and greater socio-economic impact.
Well, this is a major concern in most local government units (LGUs) – too much fat with too little impact, and costing the government so much.
Despite civil service law and other rules and regulation on hiring government employees, most LGUs practice patronage politics institutionalized by politicians for years. Instead of strengthening regular and quality employees, and giving plantilla to deserving casuals, they keep on renewing casuals, employ job orders, consultants, and many others – all to serve as additional political base and special operators of the politicians come elections.
Improving public services simply require sound policies, and a good mix of quality personnel and a fit organizational set up and management systems that incur fair amount of public funds.
Having close to a thousand casuals and job orders in the province is just one concern. He should begin though with that and neutralize the influence of Governor Maranon’s key operators - to avoid unnecessary disruptions.
But there are bigger challenges that Bong Lacson must address if he wants to make a legacy or a lasting imprint in good governance.
One is on what the direction and strategy to take in terms of solving the ailing sugar industry within the context of finding best doable alternative to the moribund monocrop sugar-based economy of the province.
It is clear right now that sugar industry is under more pressures because of the changes in the global dynamics sugar, the intensification of the neoliberal thrust of the Duterte economists and planners, and the worsening gangsterism among big traders, including those involved in sugar.
A lot of problems of Negros stems from sugar crisis. That crisis feeds planters and millers-traders contradiction, fans labor unrest, growing conflict between retailers and consumers, and fueling resurging armed insurgency in the countryside.
It’s not easy to find the right formula that makes the Negros economy grow sustainably and inclusively, and acceptable to major stakeholders, but it is a matter of choice and making that realizable.
Two, is the concern on the sharpening agrarian conflict and violence, which has already claimed hundreds of lives of farmers and farm workers.
Being a landed guy himself, and used to listening to farmers, he would be in the best position in the province to meddle, not wash hands, and find a win-win solution for every concerned party. I know and he knows this is easier said than done, but being the new of the province gives the power and authority to make amends in the deplorable condition.
Three, is the issue of protecting our few last frontiers recovering our already deeply ravaged environment, while meeting the needs of our citizens and the business sector.
Four, which should actually be on his top priority, is on how to help the DILG as the face of the national government in the local, in making the LGUs achieve good local governance in all its aspects, in practice not in records.
I know that he knows that most LGUs in Negros are poorly performing; poor in assets management and dependent on their IRAs, no updated Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Comprehensive Development Plan, poor Annual Investment Plan, no functional Local Development Councils, and a number with no functional Local Special Bodies, among others.
These conditions of LGUs make a number of them deeply hated by the people, and only fuel the rapid growth of armed insurgency. As I always say, good local governance, with participatory governance institutionalized, diminishes the reason for insurgency and dissent.
There are more actually that I would like to bring to the attention of the governor-elect Bong Lacson, but I believe these are the most pivotal concerns to solve, if he wants to make a change, and cut an imprint in the hearts and souls of Negrenses.
Bong Lacson is a landed elite, but I know he has a heart for the marginalized and vulnerable, and he has a vision. He showed that in his incumbency in San Carlos City. Now is his opportunity to make that experience bigger and wider in reach.