Beacons of good governance
ROSES & THORNS
By Alejandro R. Roces
Updated February 26, 2009 12:00 AM
At a time when we seem to read and hear only news about corruption, poverty and unemployment, our continued existence seemingly threatened by a government suffering from a battered reputation, it is like a refreshing spring to read about something positive for a change. Last Feb.12, ten local government units (LGUs) through their leaders, were cited and conferred with Galing Pook Awards by President Arroyo in ceremonies held at the Malacañang Palace. Galing Pook awards community programs for innovation and excellence in local governance. When duplicated in other communities, positive change is propagated leading to an improved quality of life for all. We are glad to know that the pioneering program established in 1993 by advocates of good governance led by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Ford Foundation and later by the Asian Institute of Management, other representatives from the academe, business, civil society and the government is now institutionalized as a self-sustaining Foundation. Galing Pook to my mind means “best community” or “excellence in the community” (galing ng pook) and I like their slogan “Malikhaing paraan, kasama ang mamamayan, tungo sa pagbabago at tuloy tuloy na pagunlad”, which when translated, goes — “Creative ways, hand in hand with the citizens, towards positive change and continuing progress”. To my mind, these are very simple, yet powerful, life transforming words which were realized in the achievements of the following LGU-awardees.
The Children of Peace Program in the Cotabato Province spearheaded by Governor Jesus N. Sacdalan, counters the increasing trend of youth becoming soldiers and victims of conflict. The youth from various sectors and groups are brought together in a learning, sharing and living environment to make them understand and appreciate each other’s culture and belief systems; those of the indigenous people, the Moro people and the Christian settlers. We commend Governor Sacdalan’s peaceful strategy involving the youth. His program not only protects the youth from violence and abuse; he also ensures their development as productive citizens.
Avante Sanito! (“Forward Sanito!”) represents the battlecry of a local community in Ipil, Zamboanga. Led by Punong Barangay Jose Cabaral Tiu, the area was successfully transformed from a notorious place of rampant lawlessness, poor sanitation and utter disorderliness to a model community worth emulating by other barangays. Through a series of consultative meetings and workshops, Tiu elicited the awareness of the local folks on the barangay code, focusing on the importance of strong interoffice linkages and partnerships with the private sector as prime catalysts in realizing positive change for the benefit of the whole community.
The mountain of garbage in Payatas, Quezon City that previously drew the concern from many human rights advocates and other governments abroad is now a grass-covered mountain, thanks to Mayor Sonny Belmonte. He implemented a Payatas dumpsite rehabilitation program which remarkably improved the dumpsite’s operational efficiency, cut down operating costs and at the same time, made the facility safer and more environment-friendly. Quezon City has successfully created a model for a well-managed solid waste facility, giving new life to its residents, who were also given various livelihood opportunities.
Allah Valley in South Cotabato figured in the list of awardees because of the successful partnership forged among the local, regional and national government leaders who composed the Allah Valley Landscape Development Alliance (AVLDA). Resources were focused on solving the intermittent flooding and siltation eroding the soil of 30,000 hectares of irrigated rice fields and affecting 65 barangays along the Allah and Banga rivers. 15,000 bamboo trees were planted along banks to serve as flood buttresses and dikes were constructed along critical sections of the river to re-channel water flow, thus saving prime lands. Again, partnership among the community members and the private sector was the major factor in the successful transformation of the Allah Valley. Governor Daisy P. Avance-Fuentes certainly did a good job of rallying the people in her province to work for environment protection and improved public service for the benefit of the local communities.
In Marikina City, the establishment of a Central Warehouse has led to the effective and efficient distribution and utilization of supplies and materials by the City Government, thereby saving on costs. We commend the achievement of Mayor Marides Fernando that provides a good model of efficiency in handling precious government resources for other local government units to follow.
Five more awardees shall be featured in our next column. Hand in hand with the citizens, through creative governance, our national government, through these empowered LGUs, can institute positive change and continuing progress for the whole nation despite the seemingly insurmountable odds.