ROSES & THORNS By Alejandro R. Roces Updated March 03, 2009 12:00 AM
(Part 2) From the March 04, 2009 issue of the Philippine Star
In the course of our daily lives, we come across people who make life happier and easier to live. Few have a genuine commitment to make life better not only for himself but for others as well. I take off my hat to those whose primary goal is to be able to contribute in making the world a better place to live in. Last week, we featured the five local government units and the innovative programs implemented by their respective leaders in improving the quality of life of the people living in their communities. Let me feature in today’s column the other five LGU-awardees cited and given the Galing Pook Awards by President Arroyo in formal ceremonies held last February 12 at the Malacañang Palace.
The lone champion in the Visayas region this year is San Carlos City in Negros Occidental which adopted the sustainability framework in its development strategy for the San Carlos Sustainable City Project. Economic growth and ecological balance were integrated in the province’s overall development objectives, in which the active involvement of all sectors in the province was a key factor. Led by Mayor Eugenio Jose Lacson, rural communities were transformed into agro-industrial areas, thus making these economically viable and the people socially responsible and mindful of the environment.
Governor Joey Salceda organized the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) with the objective of developing more pro-active and disaster-resilient communities in Albay, where each year, 198,000 houses are threatened by destruction from typhoons usually affecting 350,000 people, with another 300,000 people threatened by tsunami. This is aside from the threats of volcanic eruption which can cause about 127 villages to be buried in mudslides and eight municipalities and two cities inundated by floods. The program became a disaster management program model which many disaster-prone communities here and abroad can use in preventing calamities from inflicting damage to life and property.
In San Fernando City, Pampanga, the people have been rallied into a common vision to transform the city into a business center and tourist junction, the Gateway to the Northern Philippines. They aspire to make the city as the flagship province in the Central Luzon region, a champion of Good Governance by 2015, a Global Gateway by 2020 and finally, a Habitat for Human Excellence by 2030. San Fernando City’s Mayor Oscar S. Rodriguez effectively leads the citizens to participate in achieving an ambitious road map for the province, leaving no stone unturned in the realization of these goals. Using the Public Governance System (PGS) patterned after the Balanced Scorecard Tool from Harvard, officials, business establishments and citizens share in the task of improving governance, raising its standards based on excellence, all for the benefit of their people.
The Family Townhomes for the Poor were built for the urban poor by the City of Taguig. Aside from homes, the project also provides livelihood opportunities to the beneficiaries, thus creating a model for capacity building. Credit goes to Mayor Sigfrido Tinga and his constituents for this model program which can be replicated by other municipalities.
For years, the Province of Pampanga was earning an average of only P22.5 million yearly in quarry taxes. Fiscal management and accountability measures were strengthened in quarrying operations under the program called Biyaya A Luluguran at Sisikapan (BALAS) Program, whose successful implementation led to increased quarry collections raised to P230 million in the first year alone. This is another undertaking that proves that anything can be achieved if everyone will just cooperate and participate.
May these local government units and their achievements serve as inspiration and models for other local governments to emulate. We look forward to seeing more and more LGUs do their share in ensuring competence and honesty in public governance which our people deserve.