Good Governance
Back to the Why: The Capiz Visioning Workshop

Center for Liberalism and Democracy with FNF Philippines
© FNF Philippines

“We must always remember that we govern with the consent of the governed,” said Former Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary, Mar Roxas during the hybrid Capiz Visioning Workshop of the Center for Liberalism & Democracy (CLD), together with Friedrich Naumann Foundation Philippines (FNF) held at Cyberpark Tower 1, Cubao on June 22 & 24, 2022.

The former DILG Secretary put emphasis in being sensitive towards the needs of the participants’ constituents; that they should always take into consideration how their constituents would react to the projects they envision. Rather than just provide for them the basic needs and services, the former secretary also encourage the participants to allow their constituents to participate in the crafting of local ordinances, policies, and the like.

“I think it is important that what we do today will have consequences beyond with what is just written because what we are really trying to establish is our values, our view of the world, our structures, and be relevant in today’s world even if some concepts of governance are going through a redefinition,” he added.

Among the participants were Roxas City Mayor, Ronnie Dadivas, 1st District of Capiz Board Member, Thea Faith Reyes, and 1st District of Capiz House Representative, Congressman Emmanuel “Tawi” Billiones. All of whom, together with their staff, contributed invaluable insights during the two-day workshop. Food security, education, and livelihood were the most common problems the three public officials faced during their previous terms.

For food security, BM Thea Reyes shared with the group that her office did not have a huge budget to purchase rice and relief packs. During typhoon Odette, she managed to provide relief packs to several affected citizens of Capiz through the offices of other officials as well as private-public partnerships. What she lacked in resources, she made up for groundwork.

In that sense, Chris Otero of NextStep Training and Consulting, Inc., the facilitator of the workshop, pointed out that BM Thea became a sort of tulay or bridge to her constituents, she did not have the money, but she had the networks which she maximized in helping her constituents.

BM Thea added that the office of Cong. Tawi was also instrumental in procuring relief goods during typhoon Odette and other natural calamities. It was also through his office where BM Thea was able to purchase rice at low cost.

Although Mayor Ronnie could only join the workshop through Zoom, he was eager to share the problems he faced in providing scholarships to impoverished youth of Roxas City. Some scholars, he said, received double scholarships, meaning that they were getting stipends from the Roxas City as well as the province and/or the office of Cong. Tawi. This, Mayor Ronnie highlighted, was unfair to others who also deserved to receive scholarships. So, he clarified in the application process that scholars must not be under another government funded scholarship program during their scholarship with the city.

BM Thea added that apart from the actual qualifications of scholarship, the process of endorsing tuition fees also underwent revisions. There was an instance where a scholar studying in a public school received funds for tuition. Apparently, there was confusion with the scholar, whether he was studying in a private or public school. Since tuition is free in public schools, the scholar should not have received tuition funds. If he were studying in a private school, the funds for his tuition could have been processed from the city to the school directly. This process, BM Thea said, is a more efficient and secure transaction for the local government unit and the school.

The foundations of Mayor Ronnie, BM Thea, and Cong. Tawi clearly uphold the values of good governance. These were further deepened when they were conducting other activities during the workshop. One activity emphasized the need for strong foundation and the ability to maximize resources which BM Thea clearly exhibited. Another activity touched on a more affective part of the leadership process. And another discussed the importance of messaging and effective communication.

In the processing of their shared experiences, Chris underscored the importance of going back to their roots and starting again with the why. Why were they elected? Why do they want to help? Reminding themselves of their “why” would help them focus more on the solutions of their constituency’s problems rather than dwell in frustration.

During Day 2, the participants presented their existing plans and asked for feedback among their fellow participants. Every time they shared their vision, they made sure to clarify which sector they were trying to help, evaluated if their goal was attainable within a specific timetable, and measurable in terms of success.

Chris also noted that it was important that the constituency knew and understood the “why” of the public officials. More than the projects and programs, which are manifestations, what is most important in leadership is the “why”. More than knowing one’s own “why” is the effective way of communicating and instilling in the constituency their “why”. Only then, can the governed consent to be governed. And only then can their constituency participate in the realization of their shared vision of Capiz.