Strengthening our local governments


“The President understands ordinary Filipinos because he was himself a local chief executive for about two decades.

The government’s campaign against drugs and crimes has been quite successful so far and critics must be scratching their heads why this is so. Despite their constant yapping against the administration, they have convinced no one but themselves, and the President and his programs continue to enjoy popular support as shown by recent surveys.

I’ll tell the critics why: citizens and local government units (LGU) see and feel the effects and benefits of our war against drugs and crimes that is why they are fully supportive of it. Local officials and residents themselves contribute vital information and assistance to anti-drug operations.

Of course, members of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and Philippine National Police remain loyal to their sworn oaths and continue to do their job well but they would not be able to accomplish their missions without the cooperation of local government units.

Local government officials, from the provincial level to the barangay, have long been trying to get rid of drugs. They see its menace firsthand. Whenever drug-related crimes are rampant, their localities cannot grow. A huge part of their resources is used up for the maintenance of peace and order and they cannot focus on developing the economic potentials of their localities.

Ordinary citizens suffer the most. They feel unsafe. They can become victims of drug-related crimes anytime and their family members can succumb to temptation and become hooked on drugs.

So both local officials and residents welcomed the campaign against drugs and crimes and continue to support and contribute to it. They can see that President Rodrigo Duterte truly knows the solutions to their problems.

The President understands ordinary Filipinos because he was himself a local chief executive for about two decades before becoming President of the Philippines. As a mayor of a city outside Metro Manila, he became immersed in the harsh realities that the ordinary and poor Filipinos have to struggle with on a daily basis.

Critics do not understand the actions of the President because they do not understand the situation of the people. They believe they know what is good for the country and the poor but their exposure to the lives of the poor is at best anecdotal or superficial.

Most of what they know about the poor come from reports of journalists who frame and present stories using their own middle-class beliefs and views. They claim to speak for the poor but whenever the poor stand on the opposite side they don’t listen and tell them they’re wrong.

“Local government officials, from the provincial level to the barangay, have long been trying to get rid of drugs.

Worse than the hypocrites are the opposition figures who criticize the President to advance their own interests. They claim to be human rights advocates but all they really want is to destabilize the government and grab the power for themselves. They are also protecting their allies who are involved in drugs or they themselves are involved in drugs and finance their campaigns with drug money.

Unfortunately for the opposition, the President has rightfully earned the trust of the LGU, so their support to the programs and projects of the administration will only be stronger in the years to come.

Our LGU today have the capacity to work effectively with the national government due to the power given to them by the Local Government Code. The impact of the law is immeasurable as it has enabled local governments to become less dependent on the national government.

The implementation of the Local Government Code has shown the country that so much can be accomplished when the powers of the national government are devolved to localities. This is another proof of the huge positive impact that federalism can have on the Philippines.

If regions are turned into states, their greater autonomy and power will enable culture-based localized development which is definitely better than Manila commanding the rest of the country according to its needs and wants.

We will get there in time. What matters is that we have honest intentions and we are headed towards the right direction. For now, let us make sure that LGU are accorded the respect, freedom and service that they deserve and let us not allow sour grapes to destroy what we have built.

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Blast from the past: On 8 October 1565 Spanish Friar Andres de Urdaneta arrived in Acapulco, Mexico from the island of San Miguel, Cebu, Philippines. His route became famous and trusted for sailing from Manila to Acapulco which also became the route followed by subsequent voyages and the Manila Galleon Trade.