Iloilo City and Pasig mayors show the way
PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero-Ballescas (The Freeman) - July 4, 2020 - 12:00am

These words of wisdom from Iloilo Mayor Jerry Treñas: “If there’s one thing I learned about governance and leadership, it is that alone I cannot do everything, but together with everyone in the community, everyone in the city, we can do a lot of things.”

“Very important is the understanding of everyone that governance is a shared responsibility of the governors and the governed.”

“As long as we never forget this fact, then people will just come out and will do their share to make life a little better for everyone during this pandemic.”

This inclusive, participative, collaborative, evidence-based governance style (IPCEG) has allowed Iloilo City to effectively contain the virus (only eight by June 20!) and protect and meet the needs of the residents.

Below are Iloilo City’s instructive anti-COVID policies and measures (culled from the July 3 Rappler report by Marchel P. Espina and Rambo Talabong):

#1. IPCEG governance style

“Iloilo City’s successful coronavirus response was not devised in a day. Neither can it be credited to only one person.”

#2. Prompt, pro-active, collaborative, evidence-based response

A sense of urgency raised by their City Health plus data monitoring and consultation with experts guided Iloilo City to immediately “shut its borders just five days after Malacañang ordered the ECQ for Metro Manila and the entire Luzon.”

#3. Regular public information

The city uses Facebook page for updates, conducts regular press conferences, and maintains a radio program on mental health amid the crisis.

#4. Pro-active Medical Policies:

a.) Mass tests and testing center. “With health experts, Iloilo City officials pushed for mass testing (of the “infected and infectious”). Mayor Treñas, Representative Julienne Barond, with Ilongo doctors and health experts worked to have Western Visayas Medical Center licensed by DOH to conduct localized tests which started in late March.

b.) Test kits - with limited supply from national government and DOH, the Iloilo City government “turned to business groups to donate 2,500 kits worth around P5.5 million from South Korea. The city has procured more and will continue to do more tests beyond the 6,100 swab tests conducted by June 21.

c.) Ongoing construction of COVID-19 laboratory and an isolation dormitory with a 1,000-bed capacity.

#5. Community support and help through the city government and the community Bayanihan spirit during the 11-week lockdown

a.) Feeding through community kitchens. Volunteers prepared and served around 1.9 million meals. Frontliners were also taken care of through mobile kitchens called Kitchen Patrols. Other residents organized their own voluntary feeding programs.

“We didn’t go hungry because Ilongos took care of each other during the pandemic.”

b.) Relief goods assistance for each family. About 69,000 sacks of rice, 30,000 canned goods, and around 6,600 boxes of noodles, milk, coffee, and sugar have been distributed.

c.) Cash worth P5,000 were given to some 60 market vendors.

d.) Donations. Funds were raised and masks, gloves, PPE sets, face shields, alcohol, and sanitizers distributed to protect those in hospitals, medical workers, LGUs, government agencies.

e.) University dormitory space to quarantine returning group of UPV students from Manila.

Iloilo City Mayor Treñas acknowledged that “the city would not be as successful” without the initiatives and help of Ilongos.”

Over in Pasig, Mayor Vico Sotto was again in the news, this time, for the huge P415 million saved by his very laudable policy of cleaning up the city’s procurement process. From Mayor Vico, this indispensable policy component:

#6. Transparency of government transactions and budget.

Huge funds saved from rooting out corruption through transparency (vigilant tracking of documents, prices, and procurement) can proudly translate to local government fiscal autonomy. Especially during a pandemic, huge savings means better/wider service, especially for the needy.

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