MY KIND words to Bacolod City Government after garnering new awards, the latest of which is an award from Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for passing the standards good local governance.
I know that the new set of city officials have been doing their best this early to exercise governance that matters most to the people especially those who need most the services of the government.
Accolade like this should not give the city officials and its people the feeling that they have reached the apex of their public service and social existence. Nor give them the feeling that they are better than the others. It is in fact a reminder that they should do more, be more and be better because there are just too many things yet to accomplish in the city.
Among those I mentioned in my earlier articles, including the ease of doing business which obviously the city needs more surgical improvement to remove crooks, fixers and predators preying on helpless citizens.
Budget planning and investment development planning need not only transparency, responsibility and stronger accountability -- but the participation of major development stakeholders.
City social services need re-orientation to accommodate all not just the political base of certain officials and politicians.
Resettlement and socialized housing projects under Community Mortgaged Program are poorly planned and managed, so much that they become breeding ground of organized corruption and "entrepreneurial" sidelines of certain individuals in cahoots with city officials and employees.
Effective anti-crime and anti-drug solutions have yet to be measured beyond body counts and compliance of functionality of structures like the PLEB, etc. They are yet to achieve more prosecutions, more rehabilitation and more alternative jobs for the victims and their families.
Enforcement of certain national laws, executive orders and MCs need more political will among city officials beyond expediency and narrow political agenda.
I have also commented earlier that awards like a business-friendly city and seal of good local governance (SGLG) are just one of the barometers to measure realities on the ground, or evaluate the impact of the city's governance.
In fact, if I may assert, the best judges of the quality of the city's governance are its citizens, the marginalized sectors, urban poor, drivers, odd-jobbers, out-of-school youth, small entrepreneurs, the homeowners associations, cooperatives, civil society organizations -- not the civic leaders, government officials, politicians and big businesses from Manila whose view and perspective of realities are often dictated by their politics and vested agenda.
Good governance's best indicators are not in standards compliance and functionality of basic structures of governance and management -- but its impact in the lives of the people, whether their quality of life has improved or not, whether they see themselves as meaningful stakeholders in governance or mere recipients and watchers.
This is something that the City Government has yet to do to really endear itself among the citizens.
Still, the accolades are expression of appreciation of the good efforts of the City Government. But they are also modest reminders that they have to do more, be more and be better instruments of changing lives and transforming Bacolod society.
With Mayor Bing Leonardia at the city's helm, and also as the president of city mayors' league of the Philippines, back by a good mix of talents and capacities in the city council, the city of Bacolod is in a position to become a new template of a premier city that truly cares for its people and environment.
I hope the city officials appreciate this, and do their best not to squander this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity brought by the confluence of national and local factors.