Our official blurb from the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines

In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Local Government Code of 1991, the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), the umbrella organization of all leagues of local government units (LGUs) and locally elected officials in the country, supported by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the United Nations Philippines RePubLiKo campaign, presents the LGC@25: Pagbabalik-tanaw, Pagpugay, Pagsulong Documentary Series. With the stories of gains and learnings from such landmark law, the Documentary Series features testimonials of trailblazers in the local governance scene as they share their stories and memories on the journey with the Code, as well as significant breakthroughs through its 25 years and plans toward achieving genuine local autonomy.

Launched last October 27th, the series is composed of five videos that will be released starting October 2016. Its monthly instalment will be featured in the #ParaSaBayan portal, ULAP website (www.ulap.net.ph) and other media partners.

But this post is not just about teasing for the video documentary series. This is me, sharing an email I received from former Sen. Nene Pimentel, right after we wrapped up the interview for the video. For those unfamiliar, Sen. Nene is the father of the Local Government Code of 1991. He authored the Senate version of the law, which was matched by the Congress version of the late Cong. De Pedro.

During the interview, what elated me most is Sen. Nene’s undying vision for local governments. His dream of what local governments should be is so alive; the words by which he described it gave me shivers during our interview. I have read the Code; I have a personal copy with highlights and post-its because the Code is the backbone of my job. And I’ve been revisiting it lately in light of the proposal to shift to federalism. But it was only during the interview with Sen. Nene that I found out that when the 1987 Constitution was being drafted during the time of President Cory Aquino, they – ‘the fathers’, for the lack of a better term – already had local autonomy for local governments in mind. At one point in the interview he said (non-verbatim) that democracy is hand in hand with local autonomy – that the power for government and communities to decide, to discuss, to participate, is made clear when the 1987 Constitution and the Local Government Code of 1991 are put together. That thought sunk real deep into me.

Towards the end of our interview, I asked him, “What are your advice to local government officials now, looking forward to the next years of seeking genuine local autonomy?” He had an answer on record (that’s for the next videos to come). But then there, he sent me this email hours after our interview.

This is Sen. Pimentel’s “unsolicited advice to local officials”. Let me share it as he wrote it. I only fixed the spacing.

I can only wish more officials – national and local alike – would heed his advice.

Some unsolicited advices to local officials you were asking for kanina:

Don’t call yourselves, “Honorable” in your calling cards or in your office signages – on your office tables or signboards.

LET OTHER PEOPLE CALL YOU HONORABLE, IF THEY WISH.

BE ON TIME FOR YOUR CONFERENCES, MEETINGS, AND EVEN SOCIAL, OBLIGATIONS.

> Don’t let people wait for you.

> Your time no their time are of equal value.

WHENEVER POSSIBLE, SPEAK THE LANGUAGE OF THE PEOPLE.

> It’s easier for them to understand you.

Consider your constituents as your equals’ not your inferiors or subordinates.

> listen to what they have to say; hear what they are saying.

> respond to their requests to the best of your ability – but always in accordance with law.

> if you cannot grant what they are asking for, it is better to be candid about your inability to do so than to make them  hope for something that will never come.

Treat public service as an opportunity to advance the welfare of the people of your barangay, municipality, city or province.

> never to fill up your pockets with the people’s money.

DO YOUR BEST.

> Do not allow the ‘pwede not yan’ mentality to be the guiding principle in the discharge of your duties.

Let love be the operating rule in dealing with people you get in touch with.

Always seek the guidance of the Almighty in doing your job.

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