Churchill Aguilar .
LET me flex my muscles once again as I make a comeback to writing and again share my take both on local issues and national concerns especially in these trying times.
You see, I was out of the loop for awhile, nine months to be exact, when I was invited to help run Butuan City as assistant city administrator. My short stint there is one beautiful, connecting stories of victories of propelling the bureaucracy for a more responsive local governance. And now that progress is in motion, it’s my turn to exit with the hope that the momentum we gained will be sustained. I am very confident though that it will since I have yet to meet any other local politician whose heart for clean governance is as spotless as that of Mayor Ronnie Lagnada. I would not have done my acrobatic moves, so to speak, had I not been given air cover and full support by the good mayor and the administrator.
I am leaving Butuan City with great memories, profound respect for the local leaders and a lot of learnings to write in this column. If I were to write three great learnings I have in there, these would be:
- Everything can be done in an LGU. No program is too ambitious that it cannot be implemented. The system in the LGU is designed to make the impossible possible. No budget? Not to worry, there are mechanisms to tap other resources. You have already reached your limit to hire employees? There are ways to outsource services. Your workforce is polarized by politics? There are HR systems to ensure performance management. Your office structure is not responsive to the real needs, reorganization is very much allowed. Name a problem and it can always be addressed. If you have not found a solution to a problem yet then you probably have not explored the scope of power that is bestowed in the LGU.
- All it takes is political will. At the end of the day, LGUs are leadership-driven. As much as structures and mandates are in place regardless of periodic change of leadership, LGUs are still maneuvered by the strategic priorities of whoever is in power. And since all things are possible, there are no valid excuses for an LGU not to be successful. They may differ in phase and momentum depending on the readiness and the chemistry of the leaders and the workforce but still, success lie in the hands of all elected officials and their political will to bring about progress and development. If you want change and you truly mean it, it can be delivered.
- Inclusive development is the only authentic way to progress. Any society will always have people who cannot cope with the fast changing world. We call them the marginalized, the people below poverty line, the unemployed, the illegal vendors and peddlers, the irritants, the sore to the eyes and undisciplined populace. And sometimes it can be tempting to just expedite progress with pure infrastructure leaving them behind. But if we ignore the growing gap of the haves and have-nots in a community, it will always have a social implication that may eventually drag the community down such as crimes of poverty. Progress and development is always a community effort, it is always a team work where no one should get left behind. The secret is to strike a balance.
LGU-Butuan gave me a rich experience of leadership with a heart, an uncompromising political will especially from the local chief executive, and most importantly, a first-hand experience that success in local governance is very much achievable even by new players and even against all odds.
Goodbye, Butuan, and thank you Mayor RCL! I had a good run.
And hello world, I am back!