Leadership in Local Governance

Speech-Lyceum-of-BatangasAddress of Rep. Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr.
Seminar in Leadership
Lyceum University
Batangas City
23 January 2010

President Peter Laurel,
Dr. Dexter Butted,
Ms. Bernadette Datinggaling,
Members of the Lyceum Faculty and Administration,
Members of the Lyceum Supreme Student Council,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Let me begin by thanking you all for the invitation to serve as speaker in this Seminar on Leadership here at Lyceum of the Philippines University in Batangas City.

It’s a welcome respite for me to move from the hectic and contentious life in our metropolitan capital to the quiet and serenity of this campus and this beautiful city.

Your keen interest in the coming elections in our country is highly commendable and understandable.

No elections in our nation’s history is more important than this one – except perhaps for the first elections immediately after the second world war, when our country recovered its independence.

It is the first national elections in the second decade of the 21st century.

It comes at a time of uncertainty in our country and in the world.

And it is the first elections that will be automated – a critical test that we all hope and pray will be hurdled without damage to our democracy.

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I will focus my remarks here today on the subject of Leadership in Local Governance because it bears direct relevance to your concerns as citizens and to the future of the province and city of Batangas.

There is a famous saying that states: “All politics is local.” And by that is meant that everything begins and ends at local level – at the level of the citizen and the family who lives within a barangay inside a town or city. And whether you are running for the Presidency or some lesser office, you have to come down to this level in order to get anywhere.

And here also is where national progress begins – not at the top but at the grassroots. This is where a nation’s productivity and strength are tested. This is where our hopes for a better future begin.

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The importance of local enterprise and independence from the national capital cannot be overstated.

Until Cebu started talking about ending its dependence on Imperial Manila, its economy was going nowhere. When it decided to go its own way and embarked on its own ambitious program of development, its remarkable transformation began.

Until we in Ilocos Norte decided to turn our region into a zone of tourism and development, little was happening in our economy and in our lives. Not until we decided to bite the bullet and embark on our own projects did progress begin to happen, tourists come to visit, or investments flow into our province.

Similarly, here in Batangas, it was when you decided to become a major center of development in CALABARZON that your economic horizons began to expand.

All these underscore the great importance of local leadership and local governance. They tell us how — with vision, enterprise and effort – the future of a local community can be transformed.

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We also cannot overstate the importance of leadership in the success of any venture or program.

A famous leadership guru – Warren Bennis – put it succinctly when he wrote: “Managers do things right. Leaders do the right thing.”

It is leaders who set us on the right course, the right plan and the right program.

The managers and the workers must then execute and make the vision happen.

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The innate power of a local community and local government for self-transformation is rooted in the mandate of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which declared in Article X, Section 5 that: “Each local government unit shall have the power to create its own sources of revenue and to levy taxes, subject to such limitations as Congress may provide, consistent with the basic law of local autonomy. Such taxes, fees and charges shall accrue exclusively to the local governments.”

In October 1991, Congress passed the enabling law for local autonomy as mandated by the Constitution: Republic Act 1760, also known as the Local Government Code of 1991.
The Code gathers together all previous laws affecting local government administration and governance. It aims to “transform local government units into self-reliant communities and active partners in nation building by giving them more powers, authority, responsibilities and resources.” This overarching objective is intended to be achieved through devolution, de-concentration and de-bureaucratization.

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Given this authority, the road to the future is then vested on local government units and local communities. By your own labors shall you reap.

National government, of course, has a role to play. It can help by setting the right priorities in the national development program, by managing the macro-economy correctly, and by making key capital investments in your province or city.

But in the last analysis, everything finally depends on the kind of local government you have. And the kind of leadership you elect to office.

Vision and leadership are everything.

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Local governments must concern themselves with the development of their communities because no one else will do it for them. And more so because national development can only be anchored on dynamic and creative local communities.
One of the key tasks in local governance is resource mobilization and management. How do you generate the resources that are necessary for your development?
Local economic development is such a challenge. It expands goals and resource demands. But the rewards when projects are successful are huge and long-lasting.
Local development is a challenge in capacity building. Some LGUs are effective in resource mobilization for their development. But most others do not have the capacity to match their dreams.
A city like Makati or Quezon City, for example, has a considerable revenue base in the businesses within their jurisdictions. A city in the more depressed areas of the country has less.
The same goes for provinces and munipalities in our country. They are classified from first-class to fifth-class precisely because of their capabilities for generating revenues.
Whatever the differences, however, our LGUs today are generally in better shape to determine their future because of the local government code. With imaginative leadership and community effort, they can mobilize more resources and make a start toward their own development. They can secure various kinds of resources and assistance not available before. And they can tap investments and credit financing for more ambitious projects.
It all depends on the choices you and your leaders make. The bolder you are the more audacious the projects. The more timid and fearful you are, the greater likelihood of inertia. And the more irresponsible the leadership, the greater the danger of your losing your way.

In Ilocos Norte, during my watch as governor, we made a calculated choice when we went into our windfarm project believing that developing this alternative energy source was a good investment in our future. We took a similar gamble when we invested in medical care for our population, and developed cooperatives in our province. And we made a major effort to transform our province in a major tourism destination. Fortunately, we were successful in these ventures. The projects proved to be long-lasting and productive.

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To sum up then, the role of leadership in local governance consists of the following:

First, the leader must provide a compelling vision of the future. The vision must be realistic and achievable, not a wild fantasy.

Second, the leader must enable followers to work with him and implement the plans and programs. Without followers, a leader is nothing.

Third, the leader must turn his local community into a center of expanding opportunity for entrepreneurs and workers, and into an engine for growth.

Fourth, the leader must mobilize the resources for development, by tapping natural resources within the community and by attracting investments into his city or province.

Fifth and finally, the leader must build healthy partnerships and connections with the national government, Congress, business and the other sectors of society. A progressive community prospers in partnership with others, never in isolation.

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