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Urban Planning Issues in the Philippines

3 Requests for Elected Officials in the Philippines

Filipino local officials: forget the past, seize the present, and plan the future.

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So, you won!

You are now (or still… or again) part of the local government!

Whether you are an incumbent who won your succeeding term, or a newbie who ended the decades-long reign of a political dynasty, congratulations!

Now, as a Filipino citizen, I have three important requests for you.

Forget the past.

Seize the present.

Plan the future.

Forget the Past

Stop blaming the previous administration!

Of course, the status of the local budget and local infrastructure are products of decisions of former leaders. It is also necessary to penalize wrongdoings of evil leaders, especially for corrupting government funds.

A great local executive, however, will make things happen now. There is much to be done instead of blaming the previous executive.

There are schools to be built, children to be fed, jobs to be created and bridges to be completed.

The words of Mr. Mike Enriquez, describing the top senators in a news segment, come to mind.

“Ngayon pa lang, magkaalaman na para…machi-check natin ‘yung ginagawa nila versus ipinangako nila…”

(So that as early as now, we can know…we can validate their actions with their promises…)

Mike Enriquez

So, move your constituents forward!

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Seize the Present

Use the three-year term wisely!

You were elected because, as you say, “the people have spoken.”

The Constitution gives you three years, but in reality you only get one full year.

Year 1 is a carry-over of the previous administration. You have no control over already allocated budgets, although you can request for realignment.

Year 3 is already preparation for the next elections. You start your campaign and, inevitably, can become unavailable for your constituents.

Ayan na ang pa-itlog ni congressman! Bibilib ako sayo kung pati hotdog madidikitan mo.

Posted by Senyora on Sunday, April 16, 2017

Year 2 is when you can exercise full power. You can greatly influence the local budget planning.

So what must be the priority? Enhance social services.

Please refrain from wasting money on hosting expensive social events like basketball leagues and beauty contests. These events, albeit being fun, are overkill if done every other month!

Give the money for those tarpaulin greetings to the needy. They need more medicine, food, and housing.

Local budget is truly limited, but local governments have proven that innovations are possible with transformational leaders (Read Capuno, 2011 for some examples.).

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

Philippians 2:3

Get out of the town hall regularly. Ask your constituents about their needs. You have municipal heads, yes, but experience is the best teacher.

Plan the Future

You may be in position for three years only, but you can instigate lasting change!

As the CEO of the local territory, you are accountable for what it will look like after your term and beyond.

A costly but worthy endeavor is to update your local plans.

The Local Government Code (RA 7160) requires two plans from local governments: the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (Sections 20, 477 and 458 of the LGC) and the Comprehensive Development Plan (Sections 106 and 109 of the LGC).

Read: Frequently Asked Questions about Comprehensive Land Use Plans (CLUP) in the Philippines

The CLUP is essential because the local territory of the local government influences local issues like budgeting and project implementation and national issues like internal revenue allotment (IRA).

The CDP is instrumental towards financing plans for uses entailed by the CLUP for the local territory.

With 70% of local government units still lacking updated CLUPs and 65 LGUs without any CLUPs (2017 HLURB Annual Report), it is imperative that you complete your local plans.

Update: The 2018 HLURB Annual Report states that 91% of LGUs have approved CLUPs, though the report has no information on the percentage of LGUs with updated CLUPs.

Increase your urban planning knowledge by following these sites!

Feel the sense of urgency that the changing climate and increasing extreme events bring! Those who are poor, uneducated, and marginalized: these are the most vulnerable to disasters!

Sure, various agencies require their own sectoral plans, but you can use these two major plans as an ultimate guide. Piecemeal budgeting through annual plans will be improved with updated CLUPs and CDPs.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

The DILG has formulated good knowledge products for these requirements, so begin the planning process with your planning officer. You are blessed further if your planning officer is already a licensed environmental planner!

There are also opportunities for partnerships with universities and other organizations. Contacting the Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners can be a starting point.

The Department of Geography in UP Diliman also has experience in assisting local governments in development planning.

Of course, the School of Urban and Regional Planning offers short courses for executives like you!

A quick search for private environmental planners on LinkedIn will surely connect you with someone willing to help!

Call to action

As a Local Chief Executive, you hold the lives of people who are counting on you for change and sustainability.

You choose: be one of the best or be one of the worst.

These three things can be difficult to accomplish; these will require discipline, integrity, and trust.

But surely, it will be worth the effort. For our generation. And for the next ones.

I hope you become what you said you will be: a voice for the poor and the marginalized.

What is your message to local officials?

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