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EDITORIAL: Reclaiming Public Roads

NAGA CITY is clearing roads, streets and thoroughfares following a DILG memorandum order to all local executives to reclaim all public roads within 60 days from July 29 or face suspension ranging from two months, one year, or two years, depending on the facts of each case.

President Duterte’s order is a long gun in coming. In fact, it is supposed to be a basic duty of local executives which the City Mayor of Manila has started to implement to the amazement of many and skepticism of some. But such activity, certainly, had triggered the up-to-the-minute issue of the DILG memorandum.

The question is, will the order be religiously followed and consistently implemented? Will it produce a change in the habit of governance and tradition in public administration? Will it result into a culture of cleanliness, order, tidiness, beauty, safety or obedience among the Filipinos? If ever, how long will such desired change in habit, tradition or culture last?

An order is without incentive or reward, it is a command, it only carries penalties without the normal incentives for compliance. Even if it is part of the police power of the state such kind of commands are often misinterpreted by those who are affected and are enjoying the unlawful privilege as politically motivated or as personal caprice of government leaders.

Filipinos do not want to be ordered, or disciplined. Any kind of order is deemed authoritarian and worst, considered dictatorial and will be responded with demonstrations, strikes, mass movements conveniently supported by news-hungry media and ultimately by the critics of the administration, and finally by local and global libertarian destabilizers.

So how should we contemplate on the DILG Memorandum? How should the government, the public and those affected by such order accept the memorandum? Unfortunately, the issue is not an easy thing to discuss. It is beyond constitutional principles or legislative discussions. It is a concern of sociologists: it deals with organizational and human resource management.

When the organization becomes big as in the government, bureaucracy shifts from development into regulation, from permission to control. The focus changes from people into the structure of the organization. Management becomes an issue of activities rather than of the system. The vision of the political leadership becomes shorter rather than long-term. The mission becomes observation rather than participation, personal rather than societal.

What we need is not just environmental restitution but social renewal; not just road reclamation but human renovation. But everything must start from our own homes, then in our social institutions, and in our communities. We can demonstrate it in Naga City even before a change of government will, maybe, happen. (RBB)

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