State of the City Address 2004


official_seal_of_cebu_city_small

Republic of the Philippines
City of Cebu

STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS (2004)

The Honorable Vice-Mayor Michael L. Rama, Members of the City Council, brother and sister Cebuanos, good morning to all of you.

Yesterday, we had a very nice day. Today, we wake up to reality.

Here we are, the newly elected officials of the City of Cebu. Yesterday, we were just candidates and now the people of Cebu has also wake up and ask themselves, "what did we do, electing a straight ticket, no fiscalizers?"

It is our responsibility to show that they did not make the wrong decision. More than ever, we have to go out of our way to demonstrate transparency. More than ever, we cannot pass the blame to anyone else and to the people of Cebu. We have also observed that more than any other cities, the people of Cebu has deviated to the traditional form of personality-oriented politicians.

It is very common in the Philippines that people make a political decision and that they vote for the person that they voted for, because they like him personally, because he is related to them, because he can sing and dance, because he is a movie star. And here in Cebu, it has been demonstrated that we have moved one step higher, because we don't get hassle and dazzle by singing and dancing and movie stars.

And so now, we are faced as the elected officials of Cebu and try to live up to that standards. I personally think that there is nothing wrong with voting for a nice personality, except when the person goes, the personality goes with him. I think we have to live up to a higher standard where we have to know what we really stand for the ideas, principles that we have to uphold so that hopefully when we go, the ideas and the principles will remain. And that is a major challenge indeed.

As the Mayor of the city, we will now have to realize that when we talk of principles and ideas, we should not fall into the trap of making motherhood statements.

If you look at the platform of government of the different political parties here in the Philippines, whether it is LAKAS, K4, whatever you want to call it, it is so full of motherhood statements that you cannot make a description between one party to another. What do I mean by motherhood statements? Motherhood statements like, we are for good government, of course, who is for bad government. Or youth is the hope of this motherland. We haven't said or go against it. Or we are pro God. And who is against that?

When we stand up for an idea or principle, it will have to be a principle that is distinctively ours- that no other party can just rightly say: "yeah, we have that too". And BOPK just have the principle over the years, although I am not in the habit of … I think I'm now trying to discuss this and air this so that people will understand that we are here together, not to protect our personalities but we are trying to uphold what we believe in. So what do we believe in? One of the basic principles of BOPK is that, we are not a religion. And whatever principles we believe in can change. There is always a better way. When you follow a faith like a religion, what they teach you is absolute like in the 10 commandments, when it comes from God, you cannot amend it. It cannot be amended even by a mass motion because it came from God. And in BOPK, we should realize that whatever principles we believe in, we are not like that. So, whatever principles we say are inherently defective. It's just a best effort. So, whatever we say should always be subject to improvement. And that in itself, is more of our own underlined principle.

Another underlined principle of BOPK is that we will never be subordinate to any national party because we are only loyal to the people of Cebu City.

So you see, there are two principles that you will not find in the government, LAKAS or K4, these are distinctively ours. When we stated out our initial program of government, we pointed out 8 basic concerns: Job, Youth, Peace and Order, Financial Efficiency, Barangay, Infrastructure, Good Government and Business Development.

And I still think to this date, these are the basic underlined concerns and through the years, we have developed other concepts and ideas which we have been pursuing.

BOPK has a commitment to the people. It is not just to protect ourselves and the BOPK, there is no such thing as the equity of this government. Because even if you are in the government and you are not deserving of the position then you can be changed.

One of the general principles of BOPK, is that we serve everyone and when we say we are pro-poor it does not mean we are pro-rich. We are not pro-rich, we are pro-everybody. We take care of our constituents even if they are that kind with clashing interest, we take care of all of them. We take care of management as we take care of labor. We take care of the squatters as well as the landowners. We take care of the young as well as the old. We take care of our voters and also the non-voters which include the children, investors and visitors. We don’t make any distinction whether you are a pure Cebuano or not a Cebuano. Because our criteria in determining people who are pure Cebuanos are the people being chosen to be here from the outside. And we should give them more importance. Right? Because people that comes from other places to live here in Cebu, they are Cebuanos by choice, they are not Cebuanos by accident. I do not ask them if they are Cebuanos. So, you should pay more consideration for people who come from other areas, from Muslim Mindanao, from Batangas, Panay they have chosen to come here and stay here. And so many of us are Cebuanos by accident.

I think that we have been into many experiences and I have served in many different capacities not only as Mayor but actually as representative of the local government as President of the League, Chairman of the RDC. And sometimes I ask myself a question, "what's our role in the government?" And as I start to ask that question, I read very carefully on the different laws. It is always at the back on my mind, "what is the role of the local government?" It is not there. It is not in the Local Government Code. It's not in the Constitution. The Local Government Code will tell you what you can do, how much money you have, what your salary is.

But really, in terms of nation building, the terms in making a stronger country, what is our share? What is our responsibility? It's not in the Local Government Code, it's not in the Constitution. As a matter of fact, I dare say that the Constitution does not even say clearly what the role of the government is, local or national. It just goes that you have the judiciary, legislative and the executive. But what is the role of government? I think all of us take these things for granted. I think if we ask our Senators what the role of the government is, I don't think you will get the answer. So, let's think about it because I would share with you what we think.

What is the role of government? To me, the role of government is not to govern. The role of the government is to provide a service that the people would want that they can't get anywhere else. That's the role of government. The role of the government is not to govern, wear a crown and rule. I don't think the people want that too much.

If you make them choose, I think what the people need is the service. If you are to ask the people what kind of service they want that they can't get elsewhere. They have the private sector that can provide service but there are many services that the private sector cannot provide or they can provide it but they are not willing to provide it. That is the role of government.

Let me cite you basic examples. Garbage collection. Truth of the matter is, each one of us can clean the streets in front of our house. But people don't like to do it. But who does? The government does it.

On Street Lighting. I think everyone can afford to put one light down out in the street to provide street lighting. The private sector doesn't want to provide it. So, who does it? The government provides it. So, not only the little services but even the major services.

Education? There are private schools but if one cannot afford private schools, then we have public schools. Public Schools is not there to compete with private schools. It's there to provide education to those who cannot avail of the private education.

That's why we have government hospitals. Government hospitals is not there to compete with private sector. It's only there to provide health care to those who cannot afford to go to private hospitals. So, not only health care, the education, but basically in all matters where the service is not available in the private sector. Whether it be printing money. You can't have our money printed by Barba Press. The government has to do it.

Or military? I can’t imagine an air force being sponsored by San Miguel Corporation. Or even a criminal justice system? Or putting an embassy in Italy or in the United States? So to us, the role of government is very clear. The role of government is not to govern, is not to compete with the private sector, but to provide that which is not available from the private sector because they are either unable or unwilling to provide that service. And it is the role of the government to provide the service and it only goes to say that the service has been provided as cheaply as possible, as efficiently as possible, as friendly as possible. That is the role of government.

So, what is the role of Local Government? The role of Local Government is just to try to provide that service. Because applying simple and basic management principles, if there is an area that needs a service, then the one who should be first called on to provide the service will be the government that is closest to the problem. And who is closest to the problem? The Local Government.

So, this is how it goes. Government should not get involved in areas where the private sector is capable and willing to provide that service. When that happens, who is next in line? Next in line is the Non-Government Organization. The irony of it all, is that the role of the Non-Government Organization is to govern, although it says non-government should be the one governed. But more and more, the people needs the service, it clearly is to the advantage of government where an NGO is more capable and more willing to provide that service. We will support them in providing the service.

That is why, we here in the city, the failure to support many non-government organizations who are efficient or even more efficient than us in providing that service, whether it be paramedic services like ERUF or taking care of the street children, and if the government, the NGO can't do it, next in line would be the barangay. And if the barangay can't do it, then the Councilors take over. This is the chain of command. The Councilors can't do it, the Mayor shall do it.

Where has the Local Government developed or deferred from our stands? To me, the Local Government is defective in two areas:

1. It does not think of providing a service. Because when you think of providing services, you are thinking as a manager, managing people so they can provide us service. But when you look at the Local Government Code, because really, the elders don't think the same way as we do, the Local Government Code has turned out to be more of an exercise in power sharing, in sharing the wealth, the power and money. This is what you can do, this is your money, this is your budget.
I think somewhere along the way, something is lost. Because I don't think it is the purpose of government to make the Local Government Officials happy. The Local Government Code was written to make the Local Government Officials happy. Everybody has his share. From the City Councilor to the Barangay Captain, to the Mayor, to the Government. To me that's all irrelevant. What is important is how we can provide the service that our people need. The Mayor can always run for something else.

2. The other thing that is wrong with the Local Government Code is that since it was not written by a Manager, it was written by a lawyer, it's not management related. I mean, in management, you take advantage of the capabilities of the individuals who are there. I was there when they were formulating the Local Government Code because I represented all the cities of the Philippines before the Local Government Committee when they were putting the code together.
One of the big issues in formulating the Local Government Code is the issue of devolving health services to the cities. In that case, we have our own hospitals but the issue is that, should other hospitals be transferred to the Local Government? Another issue would be, should the police be transferred to the Local Government? Major debates, almost endless debates had happened on these two major issues.
On the issue of whether hospitals should be devolved, the argument was basically, what does the Mayor know about running a hospital? But I said, what if the Mayor is a Doctor? Should he not be allowed to run the hospital? Of course, everyone said yes. So, the Mayor still has the hospital because he's a Doctor.
Now, you ask the Mayor who is a Doctor, if he is willing to run the police department. He'll probably say no. Suppose we have a Mayor like Fred Lim. And you ask Fred Lim, "are you willing to run the police department?'" Of course, he'll say yes. But if you ask Fred Lim, "are you interested in running the hospital?" He'll say no. So, that is exactly where government is so inefficient from a management standard. It does not take advantage of the talent that is has.

Here, in the City of Cebu, we have the different barangays and I can appreciate that some barangays have checked their talents. Some were good in sports activities, some were good in garbage recycling, some were good in peace and order. And what we would like to do is test your ability and I will let you handle your situation depending on your capability and willingness to handle that problem. If you are capable and willing to handle that problem, we will let you handle that problem. If you are capable but you are not willing, that's okey, we will handle that problem. If you are willing but not capable, then we will train you.

We have to be dynamic if we are focused in providing that service as efficient as possible. If you are to read the newspapers everyday, we have a tendency to be confused with all these other debates. But to me, it is very important to be focused more in providing that service. I spend so much in this but let me put it in a nutshell. The role of government is to provide the service that is not available from the private sector.

When we make a political decision, it is very important to understand why we make that decision. And in BOPK, I point out that there are four ways to make a political decision:

1. You can do the right thing for the wrong reason.
2. You can do the wrong thing for the right reason.
3. You can do the wrong thing for the wrong reason.
4. Or you can do the right thing for the right reason.

Let me tell you, that there is more to it than meets the eye. Doing the right thing for the wrong reason under this classification, you have the traditional politicians. And you are doing the right things for the reasons especially that want to project themselves in power.

Doing the wrong thing for the right reason. Under these circumstances, you have the extremist, the NPA. The NPA will kill but for the right reason, because they love the poor. So, they are doing the wrong thing but for the right reason. Or the policeman who will salvage a drug pusher, would fall under that classification. Salvaging is doing the wrong thing, but for the right reason, because he wants to get control and stop the drug menace.

Or if you do the wrong thing for the wrong reason, the people think that you really have to be stupid to do the wrong thing for the wrong reason. But this is the most common in government. People who are corrupt, steal money to enrich themselves. They are doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason. Those who will tell a lie to his constituents to remain in power, the same thing, doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason.

I think some of the decisions we have to make, it might be nice to ask ourselves, “Are we doing the right thing for the right reason?” And as we continue to administer the affairs of the city, people look up to us for guidance. And there is a great clamor for unity. And why do we have elections? Because there is no unity. Because when there is dictatorship, there is no unity. But in democracy, you allow different ideas to clash with each other. That's why we call it democracy.

So, when people get disillusioned, get frustrated, because this community is not united, that's democracy. So, don't be discouraged when people disagree. That's part of the process of improving. You have to challenge the establishment. After all, all the laws that you pass in this Council can be improved and that is always subject to a debate. But it is also very important to let me share in this Council, that sometimes I would have to make a decision. Sometimes, I am not prone to a compromise. Because sometimes, a compromise is very unproductive. There are times that a decision has to be made and it might not agree with all of you, that when a decision is made, I will make that decision but I will have to explain to the people of Cebu why I made that decision.

If someone likes to argue, that I want to have this lunch that we are hosting after the session and they serve caldereta and there's another group that wants adobo. To have a compromise means you would have to mix both dishes. And you all know what is going to come out of that. It's better to make a decision to have a caldereta or adobo. So, don't think that all political decisions can be arrived at a compromise. There are times a decision has to be made.

Please remember that in the democratic process, there is elections. In elections, we all know that the majority rules. But sometimes we overlook, that while majority rules, the minority always has rights. So we cannot allow a majority to bully a minority just because the majority rules.

We in BOPK, we have to take a stand. That when a minority segment is being oppressed, who will stand up for them even though it is the minority? These are some of the ideas and principles you will have time in any of the platforms of government, in LAKAS, K4 or KNP, or what else is there. This is what we stand for and I know I am making a very bold gesture. I am talking about today.

So, let's talk about politics. Yesterday, when I was there during the Inauguration, I saw the formation of military men representing the marines, the airforce, the other members of the armed forces with their buckles well polished, the shoes, all as stiff like statues in very straight line. But there's something that caught my eye. I saw one of our metro aids running around looking for the last piece of trash or cigarette butt.

We have treated a contrast to see all these clean, class soldiers standing in attention and this metro aid going around picking up all the little pieces, looking for anything to scrape off the street. That's our politics, good service for good government. If we can provide that, we are not going to lose any elections. No matter how many polished buckles you might get, or how nice our uniforms are, it always goes down to good service.

Today is the first day of our administration. And while standing even today or last night, I would like to salute the DPS for the performance under the leadership of outgoing Councilor George Rama. Let that set the tone for the rest of the administration. That's what counts. These are the kind of politics that people want, just provide that service.

I'm very pleased that we are here together. And I tell you something. Many of us don't realize we face many problems up ahead, but believe me, there is no city in the Philippines that is not envious of Cebu City today.

I remember one of my own TV commercials when I said, "our city can do things no other city can do." But if I'm also portraying that commercial that will make the President take her oath of office here in Cebu City, no one would believe that. But yesterday, we all saw something that the entire 7,000 islands was looking with envy that the President of the Philippines was here in Cebu to take her oath of office. If I put in that commercial that if I'm elected Mayor, the Department of Tourism will transfer to Cebu, I don't think even our own candidates would believe that. But now you know you are very proud of it.

Let us make a distinction. While the President has made a decision to transfer, it doesn't mean it' s going to happen. We have to find it out. And as I was interviewed by media yesterday, I could really see what's wrong with our customs. What's wrong with our values as a Filipino nation? When reporters would ask me, "you expect all projects to go to Cebu?" I said No. We don't want to be beggar. Whatever we get, we have to earn it. And when the President has made a decision that the Department of Tourism is going to come here to Cebu, we have to demonstrate to the President that she made the right decision. We have to see to it that when we give it our full cooperation, we'll try to help them save money, we will have to try to promote tourism among the neighboring islands. We simply have to demonstrate that we can match whatever is given to us, and that is good performance.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have won the elections. Yes. But I take it as assuming a responsibility. And winning the elections is not an accomplishment. What we do over the next three years will depend on whether we have any accomplishments. It is very important that we think along the same way.

As I mentioned yesterday in my welcome address to the President, that when she gave her ten-point program, the rest of the country look at her like she's supposed to accomplish these. I said No. I think different. That's what we have to accomplish, because she is a leader. Like a conductor in the orchestra, we all have to play with the music and the song that she chooses, because if she fails, it's because we also fail. We are in the same boat.

Likewise, here, in the City of Cebu, this is our stand. I'm the conductor of our little band. I will listen to you but once a decision is made that this is the song that we're going to sing, we get to sing that song together. We have to sing with one voice, then we will show the rest of the country why Cebu is number one.

I would like to thank all of those who supported us in the last elections. I would like to thank the Sto. Niño who's always been there. And I remember when it started to rain yesterday, and someone from Manila said, "it's going to rain." I said, "you don't know Cebu. It's not going to rain." The rain stopped.

What we have accomplished so far, is a sense of pride which is a very big accomplishment. Our biggest obstacle now, is to let the people maintain that pride. That's the biggest challenge. So let's move ahead and remember, "service means Management, service means implementation." Service does not mean passing another ordinance.

Our city was cleaned last night because of great leadership, good hands-on performance and good management, not because of an ordinance that was passed. And let that be an example and lesson, that out outgoing City Councilor George Rama would share with all of you.

Thank you and have a good day.

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State of the City Address (2004)
Mayor Tomas R. Osmeña
(07/01/2004)

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