- Mags Z. Maglana
'You're welcome to suggest how we can improve Davao' - Last of 2 parts
The Peak, Gaisano Mall of Davao
Yesterday, Resurgent reprinted a Facebook post of Davao-based development worker Mags Z. Maglana, who wrote in response to an observation by Eighties singer Cynthia Patag last March 3. Patag's FB post, which subsequently animated online traffic mostly from Davaweños, read like so:
“MAGTATAKA PA BA KAYO KUNG BAKIT ANG DAVAO CITY ay walang city hospital, walang city science high school, walang city college o university, walang sports complex, walang government-owned convention center, walang tourist attractions sa sentro, walang mga bagong libro ang city library, at marami pang mga wala? Hindi na ako nagtataka. Sinabi na ni Lascanas ang dahilan. 'Yan ba ang gusto niyong sasapitin ng Pilipinas?”
Below is the second half of Maglana's article. (Some Pilipino passages are retained to preserve the candor and accuracy of the writer’s views):
Post-script to yesterday's reply to what's present/absent facilities-wise in Davao.
1. A facility-oriented mindset is limiting. It is more responsive to frame government performance in terms of service delivery which requires being mindful of who needs the services, and their circumstances; and also making savvy choices about how, with whom, when and under what terms the services can be provided. Facilities enable a quick check, but inquiries into service delivery require more details.
Focusing on facilities alone can be misleading as indicators of good governance. Infrastructure projects are often preferred for the opportunities they provide to obtain kickbacks and hide other corrupt acts. There are also many structures funded and built by government across the country that are just that: structures, which drain public coffers and are in most cases run down.
I bet you can enumerate a number of such facilities from your own experience.
2. Government service delivery in the Philippines is a responsibility generally shared by government agencies and local governments. But there are details to this sharing, in some sectors one leads and the other supports.
So the services found in Davao (and in other localities) are a combination of those supported by the local governments (plural because the provider could be the city or the barangays), and national agencies through their counterparts.
It is not incorrect to say the services found in Davao today were not brought about by the genius and passion of Dabawenyos alone. And we can say the same of Makati and its residents, Bohol and Boholanos, Puerto Princesa and um, Puerto Princesans--you get my drift.
But national support is highly subject to politics and not necessarily dispensed evenly to localities.
How has your locality fared over the years in terms of getting national support? And no, don't just base it on what the billboards say.
3. Local governments have the same mandates but localities do not have the same set of challenges and opportunities.
Cities and capital towns have advantages that most other municipalities do not have. The former can rely on income from real property taxes, business permits and licensing, and public economic enterprises, and a higher IRA depending on their category. They also benefit from infrastructure support that makes them accessible and highly connected.
The well-performing and stable localities often get more support because it's easier to pick low-hanging fruits and work with winners.
To be concrete, a livelihood/enterprise development program is more likely to be extended to a locality that is safe in terms of security and order, accessible in terms of roads, flights and telecommunications, and where some level of valued economic activities are already occurring than to a community that needs more jumpstarting.
So the advantages of some localities have been built up and reinforced over time, often to the neglect of other communities. Let's remember that next time we are tempted to beat our chest and trumpet "ganito kami sa "
Pride of place is important. But when it congeals into a rabid and arrogant form of regionalism, it only makes us more similar to those narrow-minded and self-serving groups we claim to detest.
4. The challenges to local governments are many, growing, inter-related and complex. When an LGU decides to prioritize something and invest in it, it is highly likely that there are other needs, gaps or problems that would not be receiving as much attention.
If the local leadership is smart, it will find ways so that other providers, perhaps from the community members themselves, civil society groups, the private sector, or international partners would pick up the slack.
Go and check your locality's physical framework plan or comprehensive development plan (PDPFPs for provinces, CLUPs, CDPs and ELAs for cities/municipalities, and BDPs for barangays). Chances are there are many challenges there still unaddressed by the LGU.
Davao City certainly has its share of concerns that need to taken on such as public transport reform and the state of the environment. How about your city/municipality?
5. Good local practices that are recognized through awards are important to make others aware of the state of the possible.
But lest the discourse gets reduced to the juvenile "meron kaming ganito, eh kayo meron?" perhaps the framing should be "meron kaming ganito at ganito ang ginawa at karanasan namin; kung interesado kayo, aralin natin kung paano mapatupad sa inyo na angkop sa inyong sitwasyon, pangangailangan at kakayahan."
Unless successfully pursued as a national initiative, not all localities can afford to set up their own 911 system even if they want to. But perhaps there are elements of the system that can already be adapted to the contexts and capacities of the localities that want to pursue it.
There. Too long a post for those who just want to like and share something that affirms their views. But hopefully just right for those seeking to converse and dialogue.