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EDITORIAL: Political Competition (What People Expect)

COMPETITION, rivalries, contests, races among people, institutions and even wars among nations have both positive and negative effects depending on the objectives and the means to achieve victories by each protagonist.

In political competitions, especially in true representative governments, the results of the rivalry are central to the needs of their constituents. The verdicts on whether the goals of the political leaders have been achieved better than their opponent lie on the acceptance by the citizens. The validity of the strategies by which they have been utilized by the contestants is lodged on the people that they serve and sanctioned by stakeholders and the general public.

The present case of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno is a classic example of a political competition characterized by Moreno’s objective of doing better than his predecessors – and the practical and legal strategies that he is using are accepted by the genuine residents of Manila. On the other hand, decades ago, during the regime change between Presidents Marcos and Aquino, the winner forced changes, and the strategies were both radical and destructive that were felt until the term of the recent administration. Development projects were either abolished, abandoned or stopped with vague and untested replacements, corruption, insurgency and rebellion persisted; hence the verdict was to put in place a man who is the very opposite of the previous five leaders.

Keen observers in Naga City notice a muted competition between the present and the past city administration. Previous projects are being closed or replaced by new ones. Names of public places are being altered. Past activities are being transformed and more glamorous events are being purposely promoted, plans for new projects are being announced with proud eagerness.

But what people expect from changes in governance are not just new projects but substantive programs, not just give-and-forget assistance but comprehensive packages of services, not just operational policies but strategic visions. Leaders must not only work on their political legacies but on their places in the social and economic history, not on personal but on communal interests. But most of all incoming political leaders must realize that people’s participation is central to successful public administration.

The local public is becoming amused and interested in what the previous administration will respond to the shifting management environment. Filipinos are known to react or fight back if their ego is touched and their past achievements are being debased. Let’s all hope that the result of these changes in the City will be taken by people as just differences of approach in public governance and management and will not result into another vicious political rivalry. The Naguenos can no longer afford to have a fragmented home due to private enmities driven by political games. RBB

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