WELL, that is a question only Mayor Evelio Leonardia aka Bing can answer.
I admire newbie local chief executives Isko and Vico for making sharp changes in their respective cities early in their public service. In fact, their fresh initiatives have already gone viral nationwide and put many local government units on the frontline of public opinion.
How right and well are they doing and how long can they sustain their bolder and fiery start for bottom up changes only them and time can tell.
There are however some important insights on urban development and the role of local government unit that the national government especially the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and as well as the rights-conscious citizens can draw from the two young executives.
One, urban development and management takes more than technical e.g. engineering works, and aesthetics e.g. landscaping and designing. Political will and good local governance play equally important roles too.
Isko and Vico have shown how critical and pivotal the political will, decision-making and influence of the local chief executives in changing mindset, perspective, policies and programs on urban development and management.
It takes strong-willed government executives and political leaders to confront crooks and corrupt practices, underworld and organized syndicates within and outside the city hall that often caused social inequality and mass poverty, and poor environmental conditions.
Two, urban management and development is identity building campaign. It goes with it the making of stories about its cultural heritage, the stories of its citizens’ struggles on various issues, the stories about its heroes, heroines and legends; the story about its political and juridical existence.
For many foreigners, and the world communities, Philippines is Manila. And Manila has great stories of destruction and rebuilding. These were lost for decades due to crook local officials in cahoots with the powers in Malacañang. This is what Isko wants to reclaim under the banner of Bagong Maynila.
Pasig, a much younger city, and so Vico is installing data-based and freedom of information rich governance to help it make better decisions with broader social impact. Pasig too is an industrial-commercial center, a rich city, and as such its possession of wealth and high-valued properties are something that should be consolidated and given right perspective to ensure that a wider segment of its citizens benefit from it. This is what Vico is working harder on.
Three, the need for participatory governance which requires citizens and major stakeholders’ participation, data-based governance, to ensure transparency, responsive and accountability.
The great task of development, transformation and management of local government and urban centers requires effective and efficient participation of organized citizens and professionals in governance.
Fourth, right environmental planning and management. This means more open spaces and green structures. If done well, these would decrease spending for expensive infrastructures, decongest more closed spaces, increase mobility of the citizens, and safer spaces and routes for senior citizens, people with disabilities and children.
Isko and Vico have already taken initial steps in this regard, and vow to sustain them towards getting substantive and meaningful results.
Fifth, a government that puts in their entire equation the protection and promotion of the citizens basic rights is a people-first oriented institution.
Isko vows to provide relocation and alternative and sustainable jobs to the informal sector of the city. Vico plans to use the billions savings of the city to provide for low cost housing, universal health care, more anti-poverty measures. And the best is his measure to protect workers’ rights and security of tenure, which Pasig is a host to numerous big factories and plants.
Well, urban planner and advocate of inclusive cities Ragene Palma said of the two young executives, urban transformation takes time, but with their new perspective, three years could still spell a big difference in these two cities.
Again, can Bing be an Isko and Vico?
Will he have the political will to craft right policies and programs and use his influence to ensure that the city’s citizens get a city government and social environment secure, safe and free of crooks, syndicates and criminals; enjoy their basic rights; and take active part in all spheres of local governance?
For Bing to be an Isko and Vico is to be more than just popular and viral; he must transcend himself and his politics and be the change that people wants.
If the two young executives have shown they can do it, Bing has even more reason to do it and do it better having been in various political seats for more than two decades.
Yes, he can do it better, unless the citizens, or his close admirers, have overvalued him to a fiction.