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Sen Bongbong delivers an extemporaneous speech at the 60th National Assembly of the League of Vice Governors of the Philippines

20 May 2014

Maraming salamat Vice Gov. Angel. At alam niyo nung tumayo sya at i-introduce sya na sya he will do the introductions sabi ko delikado ito dahil pag nag-i-ntroduce family maraming alam yan na hindi alam ng ibang tao.
Pero buti na lang he stayed with the script at hindi naman ako binisto masyado. Thank you for that very kind introduction specially the endorsement to the highest office in the land.

Babatiin ko lamang ang mga officers of the League of the Vice-Governor of the Philippines, of course, the President, Vice-Governor Odie Fausto, the Chairman of the Board, Vice-Governor Bons Dolor; the Executive Vice-President Dick Suaybaguio; our host at this ceremony the Vice-Governor of Benguet province, the Honorable Nelson Dangwa; the PRO of this organization the Honorable Jose Leviste II, the Treasurer, the Honorable Gabrielle V. Quimpo; the Vice President for Luzon, the Honorable Rick Cojuangco Jr.; the Vice President for Mindanao, the Honorable Joey Pelaez; and your Secretary General, the Honorable Vicente Revil.

Aking mga kasamahan sa local government units na mga bise-gobernador, ladies and gentlemen, also the Board Members that have come to attend and be part of what looks like a learning process at this National Assembly.
Ladies and gentlemen, good evening.

First of all, I would like to I would like to thank you for your very kind invitation for me to come and be with you at your 60th National Assembly. I take every possible opportunity that I have---because of my chairmanship in the Committee of Local Government--to be able to be with our Local Government officials. It is for me a very important part of my job as senator. It is because this comes from my strong belief that the local government units of the Philippines are what are going to be the driving force for progress in every facet: progress in our political sphere, progress in our economy, progress in our society. And all of these will come for the grass roots, will come from our local government officials. These initiatives although they’re maybe general policies at the national level still have to be made true when it comes to implementation and that again falls on the shoulders of our local government officials.

I would like to remind everyone that I was also a Vice-Governor, baka ‘di niyo lang naalala. My first office in in my first position in the government was Vice-Governor of Ilocos Norte, in fact at the age of 23. In fact ipinagmamalaki ko na na kailangan ilang palitan yung batas noon dahil ang batas ay 25 years old ang governor, the same as vice governor. According to some commentators, that the vice governors they only wait for their governors to be “fried”. Anong FRIED? E nasa Local Government Code daw yan. FRIED because “Fails to qualify”, the governor Fails to qualify, the governor Resigns or is Removed, the governor is Incapacitated, the governor is Elevated to a higher office, or the governor Dies. Ang sabi nga ni Manong Ernie Maceda, ang biro nya, ang trabaho daw ng mga Vice e maghintay ng heart attack.

But levity aside, that I think is very unfair to the vice-governors because we know that as the presiding officer of the Sanggunian that the Vice-governor really guides the special activities of a province through the passage of ordinances in compliance with their policy, the provincial policy.

And let me let me point out some areas where it is very clearly important what the vice-governor’s opinion, what’s their initiatives are. Nabanggit kanina na tungkol sa tourism policy when the investment policy of any province in terms of the kind of taxation, how to handle things like business permits, how to handle things like new investments coming into the province, is determined by the Sanggunian, which is of course led by the presiding officer, the Vice-Governor.

At lahat ng ating mga activities tungkol sa investments, tungkol sa ekonomiya ng probinsya ay dadaan (sa Sanggunian) because like Congress, like the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Sanggunian and again the presiding officer, holds the purse strings to the province. And it is the decision of that you make during your sessions with the Sanggunian that decides what direction a province will take.

Now iba-iba yan some people, some provinces have decided to push tourism, some others have decided to push agriculuture, some others have decided push mining, some areas iba-iba. But that is always going have to be determined by the Sanggunian and the leadership that the vice-governor provides is important in that regard in making the Sanggunian know and understands and be part of any initiative that the provincial government will like would like to undertake. Kaya napakahalaga and that’s where we begin to see where it I, what areas there are, that the Vice Governors and the Sanggunians are most important and those are in the areas where even if there is a national policy---sabihin natin na sa national level ganito ang ating nais gawin, we will push certain things---but when it comes to a specific policy within the province and the policies and ordinances that relate to the specific conditions of the province then it is extremely important that the Sanggunian, that the Vice-governor’s leadership be brought to Sanggunian and in that way make true and implement as I mentioned, these policies.

Nabanggit ng ating butihing President na environment is one of the areas. Well this is part and parcel of another area where is extremely important what the ordinances and the rules that are created in the Sanggunian that is the initiated by the Vice-Governor are in terms of climate change.

Ilan na ang naramdaman natin for the last 5 maybe 6 years ay ramdam na ramdam natin ang mga naging epekto ng climate change. Ngayon mabuti naman kung sasabihin ng National Government, the policy is for us to be prepared, the policy if for us to be more conscious, that to be more aware of all the effects of the climate change. But in the national level that is as far as you can go. If now falls to the Sanggunian at each province to decide how that applies in your province. And that is why I urge the Vice-governors to lead their Sanggunian to be more aggressive in defining the terms that your ordinances--especially when it comes to climate change--- to talk about specific areas, talk about specific measures that are applicable to your area, to your province because it will not come from the national level. It will not come from the national level. Because at the national level ‘di naman pare-pareho ang lahat ng probinsya, ‘di naman pare-pareho ang kondisyon sa bawat probinsya, kaya’t bawat probinsya kailangan kayo mismo ang gagawa ng inyong mga batas, ng inyong mga ordinansa, ng inyong mga rules, ng sa ganun ay eto ay tamang tama lamang at karapat-dapat para doon sa inyong probinsya. And so this again is the graduation from the national general policy to the specific policy in the provinces, that is when the vice-governor comes in when their leadership is required.

I see also that in the program that you have that a there is briefing on the 2015 ASEAN integration and I am very happy that this has been undertaken, that this subject has been undertaken in this National Convention for Vice-Governors League. Because---I’m sure that this will be explained further tomorrow to the lecture----but in 2015 we are signatories to the ASEAN integration. Ibig sabihin ang ASEAN ay gagawin na nating parang EU. It will be more common, that our borders will be more porous, and most importantly something that we take very seriously, the opening of markets to each member country in the ASEAN. What does it mean when we open markets? We open markets, ibig sabihin makikipag-kompetensya na tayo, di na tayo pwede tayong maglagay ng mga tariffs sa ASEAN, ‘di na pwede tayong mag-subsidize, we cannot support a certain product or a certain market place, so as to give our own country an advantage when it comes to the market. So ‘di na maaring gawin yun and it would be an open market.

And in that regards, again in this case it is likely different from the other the cases that I had mentioned, is that we unfortunately in the Philippines, specially at the National level, have done practically nothing to prepare for the ASEAN integration. It is fortunate that in Thailand, they have organized two new agencies in government specifically created to prepare our producers, our manufacturers, our farmers, and our different sectors of the economy to compete with ASEAN.

However, there is a there is still a need for it to happen, I just read in a ADB analyst talking about the 2015 ASEAN integration and sinabi niya na mukhang kulang na kulang ang paghahanda dito natin sa Pilipinas. So it is now left then to the local government officials, to the Sanggunian, to the leadership in each province, to come up with their own preparations. And what are those preparations? What is needed? For us to do business with our neighbors in ASEAN we have to start at a common level. And that is why it ties in very neatly with the theme that you have made: the role of the Vice-governor towards achieving transparency, accountability, and integrity in the LGU.

And that is going to be very important because if you have for example what is called—hindi yung Seal of Good Housekeeping na tinatawag natin para sa mga LGUs---but if you are known to have a government, a bureaucracy that is accountable, that is transparent, and that is responsive, then you get this reputation and it is easier to do business with other people.

Perhaps the first step is something that----itataas ko ng konti yung bangko natin sa Ilocos Norte---that is to become ISO compliant, because ISO compliant is a standard. Pinagmamayabang naming na kami, tayo ang naunang naging ISO compliant sa Ilocos Norte. I cannot get credit for this, si Gov. Imee ang gumawa nyan, it was after my time already. But if you’re ISO compliant for example then you are recognized as having attained a certain standard and specifically then it directs itself towards transparency, accountability, and responsiveness. So these are the kind of preparations that we must undertake, if we are to be prepared to compete. Because yung mga inirereklamo natin ngayon nag-i-smuggling ng bigas, nag-i-smuggling iba’t-ibang produkto, hindi na magiging smuggling yun dahil papabayaan na natin yun. And then the things and the cost of production, the quantities and quality of our products—agricultural and otherwise--- will become key to our success as a country.

So here we see it again, that it will come down to LGUs to bring that—since the National government has not taken any initiatives in this regard---it falls once again to the local governments because the local governments will become the drivers of the economy, the drivers of our export, the drivers of our trade. And again this could only be decided by our local government. Hindi masasabi ng National government sa bawat probinsya na ito ang dapat niyong gawin, dahil kayong nasa local government kayo ang nakakaalam kung ano ang mga kondisyon sa inyo, kung ano kaya ninyong gawin at kakayahan ninyo, at kung ano ang inyong profile, at kung ano inyong gustong palaguin sa inyong ekonomiya. So it is for you to decide which markets to enter, it’s for you to decide how to make your own producers and suppliers and agriculture, your growers---all of them to be more competitive. And again this is the nature of the local government.
But I am very confident that since you have now opened the subject within yourself, that you will be able to prepare, although next year it is already 2015. Siguro kahit ibang bansa baka di nila mabuo yung paghanda sa 2015 but if that is the case then it will once again, as I said, come from the LGUs.

And again I am confident that the LGUs will rise up for the challenge. Because I have worked as a local official, and I have met many local government officials and I can happily and confidently say that some of the best talent in government is in local government. The best talent in local government is much better than the average talent in the national government. Dahil sa local government---kung naalala ko yung panahon kong gobernador ang local government ‘di nakukuha sa daldal, ‘di nakukuha sa salita, ‘di nakukuha sa pangako ang trabaho ng local government. At kailangan maipakita ng bawat local government official ang kanilang nagawa para matulungan ang buhay ng kanilang constituents. That is what local government is all about and that is the challenge that you in local government have always risen to. And that is where the talent that you have shown has shined. And that is why with these challenges in front of you, I’m confident that you will once again rise with the challenge, you will once again shine and you will once again carry your local government units, your provinces to greater prosperity and greater success! Thank you and Good evening!