By Maricel Cruz | Manila Standard
The vast majority of the members of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) are supporting the UniTeam tandem of presidential candidate former Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) and his running mate Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) vice presidential bet Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
No less than LMP President and Narvacan, Ilocos Sur Mayor Luis Singson, Sr. gave this assessment Tuesday night, during the group’s 2022 general assembly, where Marcos and Duterte were guests.
“I heed the wishes of mayors (LMP mayors). Most of them are supporting the BBM-Sara tandem,” Singson said in an ambush interview on the sidelines of the event held at Marriott Grand Ballroom in Pasay City Tuesday night.
Marcos Jr. is confident that he and Duterte’s experience as local chief executives would serve them well in ensuring that basic services would properly be delivered to the people, especially those living in far-flung areas when they are elected following the May 9 elections.
Marcos also emphasized that proper coordination and cooperation between the national government and local government units are keys to promoting progress in the countryside, as well as in ensuring that appropriate laws are implemented accordingly.
During the LMP General Assembly at Marriott Hotel in Pasay City on Wednesday, he highlighted his and Inday Sara’s rich experience as a governor and mayor, respectively, that would help them serve the country and the people better.
Singson said that out of the 1,480 LMP mayor-members, around 80 percent support the UniTeam duo. That translates to just under 1,200 of the mayors.
“I do not choose, I just follow. And in any survey, they get more than 50 percent. It is the first time I saw it is the people themselves who campaign… almost all of them are volunteers. That is extraordinary,” Singson said.
So astonished was the Narvacan mayor of the ground support for BBM-Sara that he said the May elections could produce a majority president for the Philippines as opposed to a Chief Executive elected with a plurality of votes.
The LMP general assembly was one of the few events in the ongoing campaign that Marcos and Duterte attended together physically.
This showed the importance both gave for the local chief executives, which they identify with given their respective political careers.
“The mayors’ support is important because it is they who know the political situation in the grassroots,” Singson said.
“I think Mayor Inday and I are talking about the local government. We’re always very happy to come and join with you, because we both really went through the local government,” Marcos said.
“So, we understand what our local chief executives are going through so we are always conscious of what’s to be done between the national and the local government,” he added.
For Marcos, the role of the LGU plays a significant role, especially in the countryside or the ‘grassroots level’, that’s why the national government must determine firsthand the real and immediate problems that LGUs need to address.
“But the truth of what is really happening at the grassroots level is what I saw and learned when I was in the local government because we know that there are many laws that are happening, there are directives, there are things that we are commanded to (national) government which is not really practical when it comes to local government,” Marcos explained.
“In other words, the realities on the ground at the grassroots level of how our local government officials, the governors, the mayors up to the barangay will really need to have better communication (with the national government) to be effective,” he said.
Marcos then advised the local government executives to come up with clear cut messages and initiate close coordination with the national government for the latter to act on their most pressing concerns properly and appropriately.
“No one can tell you that they’re better, more expert about your municipalities than yourself, and that is something the national government will have to learn to respect. And with Inday Sara and I being experienced in local government, we fully intend to address that balance,” he said.
“To make that balance more effective, it is not just one direction that the national government dictates and says what the LGU will do. Instead, the local government and the national government should have proper consultation,” Marcos explained.
He said it is vital for the national government to focus on providing necessary funds to the LGUs ’plans and programs.
“Now that the Mandanas Ruling (and the share of LGUs) from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) will be increased, it must be used properly in the implementation of LGU projects,” he said.
“Mandanas ruling gives us an opportunity, that is why I think that it is going to be a very good time for local government to start, to be a real strong firm partner to the national government, in terms of planning the national recovery from the pandemic, and for the (recovery) of very weak economy that we have,” he added.
Marcos assured that the BBM- Sara UniTeam tandem would be the LGUs’ partner in providing the right services and solutions to the problem of every Filipino.
“I really would like to assure you all that with the Marcos – Duterte team, you will be putting into office, not just national officials, but both of us who started from the grassroots, which is local government. So, you can count on us, that we will give the right place, right purpose, and right importance, to the local government,” Marcos stressed.