Officials elected in May assumed their posts at noon last Sunday. Many won another term and are expected to continue the policies and programs that contributed to their renewed mandate. Others are taking over from gracious losers, who tidied up office affairs to help their replacements ease into the job with little disruption in public service.
Still others are taking over from sore losers. In Parañaque, large piles of garbage even along major thoroughfares greeted the new city officials after collection reportedly stopped two weeks ago. This should give the public an idea of the crucial role played by local government executives in the delivery of basic services and in economic growth.
Last week Malacañang officials emphasized that local executives play a key role in attracting job-generating foreign direct investments. Local government units handle the many processes needed to start, operate and close a business. Investors have long complained of red tape in these processes imposed by many LGUs across the country. The more steps needed, the greater the opportunities for corruption.
It’s not surprising that the Philippines lags behind many of its neighbors in surveys on ease of doing business. The ranking is reflected in regional levels of FDI, where the country also lags behind most of its neighbors including Vietnam, with Myanmar rapidly catching up. It’s no coincidence that Taguig, which has been picked as the easiest city for doing business in the Philippines, is drawing a large share of investments.
LGUs are not independent republics; it is possible for the national government to influence local policies. Best practices and good governance mean better public service and economic growth, which any decent local executive should want for his constituents. Some local officials need not be reminded about this; others can use a nudge from the national government in the right direction.