Every politician and his uncle must probably be doing it but count out President Benigno Aquino 3rd in helping you mark milestones in your life.
Before local officials on Thursday, the President told his perceived critics and political enemies whom he considered as opponents of transformation to focus on coming up with long-term solutions to problems of their constituents, rather than giving temporary assistance, citing the practice called KBL or kasal, binyag, libing [wedding, baptism, burial].
The practice must easily be nearly 500 years old and for better or for worse has endeared mayors and congressmen to their largely poor rural folk constituents although it is not at all surprising for it to be engaged in by politicians in middle-class urban areas.
In his speech at the oath-taking of the new members of the National Executive Board of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), Aquino said there are people who seem genuinely angry with his administration’s reform agenda but would not offer solutions.
Others would dig deeper and point out things that were left undone, instead of zeroing in on what was done by the government, he added.
The President then reminded the local officials to remain faithful to their mandate of serving the public with honesty and integrity.
“How can we change the system of helping our constituents mostly during weddings, baptism and burial? I believe that we should not just give them temporary relief but what is more important is to give them assistance that will sustain their needs for a long time,” he said.
“As what the elders would say, let us teach our people to fish rather than have them keep coming back to ask for fish. A complete and comprehensive solution is the key to the change that we are all hoping for,” Aquino added.
The President cited a strategy used by the then-Interior secretary Jesse Robredo in solving the problem of Naga City, Camarines Norte, with informal settlers or “squatters.”
He said that aside from giving the informal settlers permanent and decent housing, Robredo also provided them with sustainable livelihood.
“All our sacrifices in serving the public would only be meaningful if they give rise to significant changes to our countrymen, especially the needy,” Aquino added.
The President also underscored the importance of a smooth working relationship between the national and local governments to ensure effective service to the public.
During the ceremony, ULAP president and Gov. Alfonso Umali Jr. of Oriental Mindoro presented the group’s accomplishment report to the President.
Among the officers who took their oath were Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. as chairman; Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista as executive vice president; Mayor of Javier (Leyt) Sandy Javier Jr. as vice chairman; and Manila City Vice Mayor Isko Moreno as first vice president.
In his opening remarks, Umali pledged continuous support of the local government units for reforms being implemented by the Aquino administration.
He said the Seal of Good Housekeeping has been conferred on 80 percent of the local government units, which means that majority of the local offices are “willing and able to become transparent.”
“We want the reforms which we started together with the national government to continue. We want performance evaluations, we want open government, we want convergence with private and civil society groups, and we want leadership in the national and local levels to work closely in treading the straight path,” Umali added.