CEBU - Four local chief executives from different parts of the country shared their ways of good governance in their respective localities through leadership, values, transparency and accountability during a forum entitled “Understanding Choices, Taking Charge of Development: Mainstreaming Good Governance” organized by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.
Isabela Governor Grace Cielo Padaca told the audience composed of students, private individuals, non-government organization representatives, business leaders and local leaders how she took over leadership from a political dynasty that had been in power for the last 40 years.
“Winning is the easiest thing, governing is difficult,” Padaca said.
Padaca, who is a polio victim, was first elected as governor in 2001.
She said that for the first few years of her office, she changed the course of how the province was run by advocating transparency in her administration and enforcing existing laws even if it meant losing some votes in the process.
Padaca said she placed a non-government organization to monitor all the transactions undertaken by the Bids and Awards Committee and all the purchases made, including the administration infrastructure projects.
Padaca recalled that when she came into office, illegal logging was already rampant in the Sierra Madre Mountains, declared a natural park. She immediately ordered it stopped, and penalized individuals caught committing the crime, even the locals who were hired to transport the logs.
Although reelected for her second term, she said she lost a large number of votes from this area.
However, unlike most politicians, this did not deter her from continuing her task, she said, even joking that that the obsession for reelection is more paralyzing than polio.
To this date, 33 of the 36 mayors in her province are now on her side, a far cry from the three when she was a neophyte.
Mayors Jesse Robredo of Naga City of Bicol and Ramon Piang of Upi town, Maguindanao related how engaging their respective people in governance helped a lot in their success.
Robredo said that in his city, they practice referendums to give the people a chance to participate in the big decisions that the city government is planning to make. This way, the government is compelled to be honest.
He said that the city also practice transparency by putting in its website the budget of his office and the prices of medicines, among other things, for the people to know.
Robredo however admitted that corruption is difficult to arrest, but one just need to have the will to do it.
Piang, whose town is in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, said it is not easy to govern a town that has its own deep-seated conflict since the 1970s.
The town populace divides itself into three groups; the natives or the Teduray, the Muslims, and the settlers who come from other provinces.
Piang, who was elected into office in 2001, said he created the Mayor’s Council, where conflicts arising from this “tri-people” population are resolved. This council is made up of six members, two from each group.
It is from letting people participate that good governance works, he said.
Good governance, he explained, must anchor on these three elements: transparency, accountability and people’s participation. And its success is largely dependent in the commitment, security and political will of the leader, he added.
A Catholic priest-turned-governor Eddie Panlilio also shared how his administration is trying to work its way using good governance. He said inheriting a constituency like his, after being run by his predecessors, was also not easy.
The forum was organized to draw inspiration and example from the four leaders, to steer development here. — Liv G. Campo/BRP (THE FREEMAN)