MY FRIEND Jacque Estanislao stayed in Bacolod for a few days after the graduation of his youngest son in a university. He is now based in Texas rubbing elbows with leading academics whose work is shaping national and international policy agenda. He got experience in the fields of diplomacy, intelligence, and development.
He was amused to know that I already retired as tourism officer of Silay. He jokingly told me, “Be careful … retirement is very sexual.”
Anyway, I told him that Mayor Mark Golez is taking me in as consultant on Sociology for Silay City. “That is commendable. Now, we can talk on capstone projects of towns and cities in Negros Occidental, Mr. Consultant. I hope you won’t mind if our conversation will simply focus on LGUs’ (local government unit’s) skills, substance and theory.”
“How is your town or city distinct from other towns and cities in the Philippines? You must have show windows to boast … politically, culturally, and economically. Politics alone will not let your political leaders survive. Your show windows will be the distinct marks in the governance of your leaders. You may kill all the drug lords, pushers, and addicts in this country, but it may mean nothing if your people are poor and they do not understand how your political leaders run their government.”
“Any town or city should define the direction of your mayor. He should have an arm to reach out to the grassroots what he really wants. He must have a team to do that for him … a team with credibility. He can also use radio, newspaper, television, and the social media for the younger generation. He must have a timetable to do that.”
Jacque believes that the LGU should have strong livelihood programs managed by competent managers. He believes in strong cooperatives not just for farmers and workers. He made special mention that the arm of the government has not reached the haciendas. Hacienda workers are still enveloped by the semi-feudal system that helped Negros grow. “I know all these because I was once a social worker of a foundation.”
“Governor Maranon has outlined what he wants for the province in his Negros First agenda. This is good but it is also expected that all town and city mayors should double the effort of the governor. The leftists can only thrive in their campaign because they know what is lacking is the service of the government. We look forward to the double commitment and dedication of our political leaders.”
“The leaders of the sugar industry, the investors, and the workers should come to understand that the survival of Negros would always depend on team work. This could be late but let us admit the fact that sugar is not the only thing for Negros. We have to take the risk and diversify. We have the best brains in the province. These groups should not just stay in their comfort zone. They have to be think tanks for Negros, for other Negrosanons, and for the future Negrosanons.”
“Our mayors should see to it that there is peace and order. It is good to know that crime index is going down. The chief of police should have a frequent dialog with the mayors, councilors, barangay captains, school principals, priests, and pastors. It is good to inhale peace day and night. A peaceful LGU will attract investors. When there is investment, there is economic growth. It means additional employment and taxes for the government.”
“Someone like me, a balik-bayan, would want to see a beautiful and clean plaza. I admire to see streets without sidewalk vendors, no littered garbage, no traffic violators, no street children, no snatchers and pickpockets, no war freak teenagers, and lazy policemen. I am not expecting for a perfect society but we always dream for the dominance of law and order.”
“We want a market that is clean… not smelling urine, no garbage, and the food supply like fish, meat, and vegetables are always fresh. We want to see the presence of market inspectors doing their job religiously. All government employees should work for the survival of their families and for the survival of the community also by rendering excellent service.”
“Employees working at the municipal building, city hall, government centers, and capitol are always expected to be courteous and prompt in the delivery of the services needed. We don’t want to hear that there are employees coming to office late and enjoying longer coffee and lunch breaks. Government service is a public trust.”
That’s Jacque Estanislao and his show windows package. He could be enthusiastic but I find no flaw on what he suggests. That made him the right guy on his work in Council on Foreign Relations. He will retire in Negros five years from now.