How should governors and mayors make decisions?  

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

We should not kid ourselves and believe in that hackneyed political line that mayors and governors, like presidents and vice presidents, are servants of the people. Tell that to the marines. We were not born yesterday. First and foremost, let us face the truth that they are all political animals by the realities of transactional and traditional politics. Most of them are trapos anyway.

Politicians, by the very essence of Philippine politics, make decisions in order to protect, preserve, and defend their own selfish political agenda. They make choices that shall favor their own business interests and also make sure that their cronies, underlings and subalterns, their "anaks", "inaanaks", and "kamag-anaks" are appointed to strategic agencies so that they could control funding, infrastructures and decision-making. They make sure that roads are built where their own properties are located. And if, by chance, their decisions also promote public interests, that would be a huge bonus to the people. But that is not the principal purpose of traditional politics.

But mayors and governors should remind themselves that even their own political survival and advancement might be put in jeopardy once they make wrong decisions or take options that are palpably dishonest, wrong, seriously immoral, unethical, or unpopular. That is why they need a professional, honest, competent, and hardworking city or provincial administrator who can be delegated to do what should be done even if unpopular. Mayors and governors should surround themselves with professionals and technical experts, technocrats who have the guts to say their piece, call a spade a spade and tell the hard truth. They should shun mere political jesters and blind followers who do not add value to decision-making.

I am currently advising two mayors and one governor in Luzon, two mayors and one governor in the Visayas, and one governor and two mayors in Mindanao who were all my former Law students and who believe in my principles, rely on the wisdom of my advice, and trust my experience in decision-making. They pay a huge fee each, ?1 a year, but I have the right to tell them straight when they are wrong, scold them if I need to, and I can leave them without prior notice. I meet each one of them every week on a digital platform and also face-to-face once every quarter. They provide me a business- class plane ticket and a hotel suite and I fly to where they are or they fly to where I am most conveniently located.

They all follow my JBJ pentagon test in executive decision-making, based on what I learned from Wharton. In making choices and decisions, whenever subordinates present a proposed project, a decision to be made, an appointment to be conferred, or funding to be given, they need to be convinced of the correct answers to five questions. First, can the proposed project really be done and implemented? Second, is the proposal affordable and cost-effective based on a cost-benefit analysis? Third, is the proposal legal, ethical, and conforms to the core values of the province and the city? Fourth, what benefits will the city or the province derive out of it? Fifth, will this project enjoy popular support by the people?

The first is the test of technical feasibility. The second is financial soundness. The third is legal and ethical propriety. The fourth is the test of beneficiality. And the fifth is the test of political wisdom. If mayors and governors want to do an excellent job, they should listen to the sound advice coming from experienced and competent professionals whose integrity is beyond reproach, and who have no hidden agenda.


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