A rare chance at change

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With the Philippine elections recently concluded, we at the local level find ourselves asking, how often do we get the opportunity to experience change – real change – in terms of local governance?

With the winning party’s slogan hinging on changing the old system to something new and something better, the people of Bacolod showed their resounding support and gave the incumbent administration the so-called boot.

The landslide victory is surprising, considering that Bacolodnons gave the current administration a 14-1 win in the 2019 elections. What happened?

Personally, I think the lure of change, especially coming in the heels of a devastating pandemic, was just too hard to resist.

Whatever the real reason may be, change is here, currently manifested in the physical change of officials occupying the various electoral positions in the city (with some holdovers). But does the change stop here? Is this the change Mayor Albee and his team have been campaigning for all along?

I remember EDSA and all its promise of change. People were as hopeful and as optimistic then. Fast forward years later and most of us are still where we were then, with some even worst off. I cannot say there were no changes, but the changes that did occur were mostly superficial and what actually happened was just a Rigodon of who would be in the seat of power. A case of “from the frying pan and into the fire”.

This meant that the rich became richer while the rest kept the status quo. It was no surprise then that 36 years after their family was overthrown, the country welcomes back another Marcos as its president. But that is another story altogether.

Bacolod City, with Mayor Albee at its helm, has this rare and real chance at effecting change. With no ties to the previous administration or to the kingmakers backing the same, Mayor Albee is not expected to toe the line or to keep the status quo. He has this opportunity to really shake things up and do away with traditional politics and all those things that hamper the growth of Bacolod. If, indeed, Mayor Albee is serious about changing Bacolod for the better, now is his chance – this is the place, this is the time.

My two cents worth is that Mayor Albee should start with and initiate projects that will truly benefit the people and not the people behind the projects. Do away with patronage politics. Utilize the best and the brightest for the city and not only those who voted for you in the last elections. Has anyone ever done this before? I know it’s a risky move but if done right, the benefits could be enormous and worth the risk.

Do away with the SOP system. Officials, if any, who ask for commissions prior to the approval of a project, need to be stopped. This is outright corruption and would only result in unfinished roads and projects which, honestly, benefit only the officials involved while we common folk suffer the results every day. Do this even if the official involved is your party mate. It may not be a politically sound move to get in the way of your party mate’s commissions, but in the grand scheme of things, party loyalty ends after the elections and your true masters are the people of the city.

Many politicians conveniently forget this, hence, you rarely see a poor politician.

Of course, the good Mayor also needs to be wary of the many pitfalls that go with victory. As early as now, word has come out that the victors are fighting over the spoils of war and that some are getting more than others.

Mayor Albee has the unenviable task of keeping everyone happy. Or does he? Shouldn’t everyone on Team Albee be also onboard with the goals of the party and understand that being in City Hall means a chance to effect change and not a chance for another source of income?

I remember a time when members of the City Council formed a clique wherein they would bloc vote, effectively holding the city mayor and the rest of the Council hostage to their whims. Can this possibly happen again? I certainly hope not.

Mayor Albee, this is your chance to be great – your chance to cement your legacy. For us common folks, your administration is our light at the end of a very long tunnel. Trust your gut. Trust those who were with you from the very start. Listen to good advice and have the courage to say no to the bad ones. If there is anyone who can do it at this time, it is you. Change Bacolod for the better. More importantly, be that change. – NWI