IN FAIRNESS to the good leadership and numerous programs promoting good governance initiated by Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año, I would like to caution him in mixing up governance with his militarist mindset and tradition. It is like putting fire on the gas tank.
His office mandate is to promote good governance and not militarism. Promoting militarist measures such as the Executive Order 70 or the formation of a national task force to end local communist armed conflict, Memorandum Circular 32, and recently his call for the restoration of Republic Act (RA) 1700 or Anti-Subversion Law, are something that do not belong to his office, nor should be encouraged by any top government official in the first place.
Secretary Año is no longer the AFP chief of staff, but the chief of DILG, a civilian institution whose task is to ensure that all local government units (LGUs) practice good local governance as enabling environment for the effective delivery of basic services, collection of taxes, assets management, eradication of poverty and inequality, and citizens empowerment.
It is not DILG’s task to gear all its personnel especially those in the frontline, the MLGOOs and PLGOOs, to become active in anti-insurgency operations of the AFP and PNP Special Forces. To do so is to make DILG a military component of the AFP and PNP, and therefore all its personnel become legitimate military target of the armed insurgents.
To create an enabling environment for good local governance to flourish and blossom in every city, town and province, means to enforce work and ethical standards for government officials and employees; discipline, remove and rehab corrupt officials; transform Local Development Councils (LDCs), Local Special Bodies (LSBs) to function effectively; ensure citizens participation in all mechanisms provided by the Local Government Code (LGC) and other related laws.
It is also the mandate of DILG as primos interpares or primary among equals to facilitate the convergence of all national line agencies towards a more synchronized delivery of services in the LGUs, instead of the present practice of making separate plans and implementations, and sometimes, competing to get endeared in Malacanang, which are all useless and waste of tax payers money.
These alone demand so much mental works and strategizing for the DILG secretary. DILG is the left arm of the President, and the embodiment of the government. It is a huge institution entrusted with so much tasks and challenges in ensuring good governance from national down the barangays. Right now, DILG needs a lot of internal reforms, reorientation, reorganization and redisposition. Dozens of its personnel especially in the field are lackeys of corrupt politicians and protectors of organized syndicates.
To get involve in anti-insurgency strategizing would mean diminishing his effectiveness and efficiency in DILG, and therefore depriving the LGUs of the services and guidance they really deserved, and the millions of citizens so hungry for good governance.
For Secretary Año to also get involve in engineering the foundations and operations of an authoritarian and militarist rule is to betray his mandate as chief of interior and local government which is essentially to protect the civilians from any wrongdoings of the state.
If he is truly sincere and loyal to his position, he should take the lead in quelling any attempt at militarizing the bureaucracy, or instituting measures that will create an authoritarian and militarist regime, including initiatives and measures by the president to undermine democracy and sovereignty,
I hope and pray that Secretary Año should whisk away his militarist mindset and tradition and begin to truly appreciate and enrich the theory and practice of good local governance. He should transcend himself from his past and face the future in the present. He should get more multi-disciplinary professionals into the DILG and his office who have a deep grasp of the conditions and aspirations on the ground, thinking and sentiments of those in the middle, and lifestyles and caprices of this in the fewest top of the triangle.
He should also be the exemplary of what a good mayor or what a good governor is.