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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, July 12, 2016
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The covenant


During his inaugural address on July 6, Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia reiterated the covenant that his party, Grupo Progreso signed on March 27, 2016 as their platform of government. Throughout the campaign to recapture the leadership of the city, GP hammered on this covenant, in fact, the different candidates for the city council took it piece by piece with more concrete and doable projects and action plans.

Congressman Greg Gasataya pledged to perform his task in Congress to give life to the covenant, and so did Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran who promised a city council that will work to insure their fulfillment. First Councilor Ricardo “Cano Guapo” Tan summed up this commitment in his closing remarks.

It is not farfetched that aside from the corruptions that were exposed before and during the campaign, the electorate of Bacolod believed in this covenant. Given the kind and reputation of the candidates, the electorate considered the covenant a pledge of men and women of honor. This belief resulted in a solid vote of confidence. The outcome of a huge number of votes indicate no other than a belief in this covenant and what it can do to transform a city that its people want.

For a rare time the leadership of the city is in the hands of a political group that cannot throw or shift blame to any other. The congressman, the mayor, the vice mayor and a solid majority in the council can only be interpreted as a mandate that insures that the covenant must be implemented.

Of the four elected MKK only two joined the formal inaugural – Councilors Anne Marie Palermo and Sonia Verdeflor. The two other refused to take part, presumably still nurturing the wounds of defeat. Or maybe they are already indicating they have nothing to do with the new administration and will become the hindrance, the obstacle to insure that the covenant, no matter its merits, will never get implemented.

It seems that their personal interest will prevail over that of the people they swore to serve. At this stage they already showed their colors. Maybe they will rise above petty politics to serve in a different role as real fiscalizers. Indeed, with the GP control of the two branches of the city government we need people who will scrutinize, but not obstruct the operations of government.

In theology, a covenant is a solemn agreement between man and God as defined in the Bible. When GP chose this term I believe it is not a mere assurance of politicians. A covenant is more binding than a promise, especially a politician's promise. It cannot to be taken lightly. GP thus took it upon itself freely to perform with all its capability. We can expect nothing less. We cannot blame any other for failure.

In giving GP a mandate with a large margin, the people of Bacolod shared this pledge and therefore would expect satisfactory results. A covenant is as good as its acceptability and if the people of Bacolod approved of this covenant. they become part of it. They must help attain its lofty objectives but not with a blind eye of selfish interest.

I went through this covenant just after it was published. With the election over and we now know how the people of Bacolod voted, we need to go through them again from a different point of view – this is no longer a political campaign promise. This is already a covenant with an imprimatur of the sovereign people and thus must take a different hue.

The purposes are laudable and the task within reasonable means of accomplishments. Nevertheless they are huge, grave tasks that will require a common effort without regard of whose interest will be damaged for the greater good. Will the new Bacolod government implement the covenant without fear or favor? Or will it be implemented with the next election in mind like not enforcing the law on supporters?

We will never know until a few months hence. “By their fruits you will know them”. We knew the past administration and its legacy of ineptness and avarice. We know the new government because they are the “returnees” and therefore they know the city's operations like the palm of their hands.

But there are new situations. The way the new president runs the Republic places the new city government on a bind – it can adjust or remain static with the same old ways.*



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