Naga City: Shining light of good governance
() - July 12, 2009 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – It only takes a spark, the old saying goes, to get a fire going. And World Bank country director Bert Hofman hopes that the establishment of the Naga City Governance Institute (NCGI) could inspire and trigger a bigger “fire” that would bring about improved governance in other cities and local government units in the country.

Speaking before officials, civil society organizations, civic leaders, and citizens of Naga during the launching of NCGI, Hofman said that the city “is one of the shining lights of good governance in the country today.”

Naga is the country’s most awarded city, having won around 150 international awards and more than 50 individual awards on effective urban management and good governance.

It has received distinction from various government and non-government organizations for providing decent shelter for its urban poor; for developing effective and efficient use of information and communications technology; for promoting good governance; for public service; for being the most business-friendly city; for participatory planning; for good practices and innovations in government procurement; for being clean and green; for being women-friendly; and for being a hall-of-fame awardee on innovation and excellence in local governance.

Only recently, Naga was also considered one of “the most child-friendly cities” in the country.

But the challenging question, according to Hofman, is “How do we scale up the success of Naga and spread it across the country?”

One of the answers, he says, is NCGI. “I think NCGI is the first step in scaling up the success of Naga to other cities, to other municipalities in the Philippines, and to other regions and the rest of the world,” said Hofman. “It is going to serve as a catalyst and inspiration from which other cities around the country could learn from.”

Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo said that NGCI is the city’s response to the challenge of growing, promoting, and sustaining local governance innovations in the city and the rest of the Bicol Region. LGUs from outside the Bicol Region are expected to benefit, as many LGU officials and decision-makers are coming to Naga to learn from its experiences.

Specifically, the institute will engage in research, training, networking, and advocacy programs to help local government units (LGUs) deal effectively with day-to-day government issues.

Mayor Robredo said that both the Bicol region and the country will be better served if the quality of governance improves at the local level, as it is the key to reducing disparities and inequities among groups and sectors of society.

“Good governance is important because it brings communities together in mobilizing resources that promote economic growth and equitable social development that directly benefits the people,” he stressed.

Hofman said the World Bank Group is willing to work closely with NGCI in terms of exchanging information and views on governance. He also signed a “commitment of support and solidarity” to help NGCI document home-grown best practices, increase best practices, establish partnerships and advocate for policies that will improve local governance.

“The WB thinks that governance is important in alleviating poverty. The link between good governance, service delivery, and better outcomes for the poor is very strong. That is why the WB is interested in making governance work both at the local and the national level,” Hofman stressed.

Other personalities who signed the commitment of support and solidarity for NGCI are Blandino Maceda, regional director of the Department of Interior and Local Government; Leonor Briones, professor of the National College of Public Administration and Governance; Guillermo Luz of the Ayala Foundation; Harvey Keh of the Ateneo School of Government; Jaime Jacob, commissioner of the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission; and UP professors Ernesto Serote and Ricardo Nolasco.

They were joined by Romeo Escandor, regional director of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)-Region V and Fr. Joel Tabora, president of Ateneo de Naga University.

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This article is based on materials published by the World Bank-Philippines in

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