By; Lea, Yette, Jovi

LEGAZPI CITY – The Legazpi City Government bagged an award from the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) and the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) for efforts to make the city a top destination for conventions, among other programs. Nine entities from national and local governments that went through a governance reform program by the ISA presented significant achievements in their programs and projects last Wednesday, November 22 2017. Through the Performance Governance System (PGS), participating agencies designed and implemented strategies to make projects sustainable in the long run.

The ISA emerged in the year 2000 and had started giving this certain award. One of the major concerns of ISA in coming up with this project was a deep need in the Philippines, specifically in the local government units in terms of public life to undertake developmental challenges and to serve people. With this, ISA established the Performance Governance System (PGS) from the Balanced Scorecard that originated from Harvard Business School which translates strategy into concrete measures that communicate a vision to an organization. Through the PGS, participating agencies are able to design and implement strategies in making projects sustainable in a long period of time.

Since 2008, the City Government had been a part of this program and undergone stages aiming towards acquiring this prestigious award. In an interview made by the Philippine News Agency back in 2014, Mayor Noel E. Rosal stated: “When we introduced the system in the city government under the principle that good governance is a shared responsibility, we worked with a broad-based community group to design specific public policy goals, an action plan to accomplish them and performance metrics by which to measure progress”.

In October 2014, the City received the first PGS awards, a Silver Trailblazer Award for Initiation and Compliant Stage. Same award was given for Proficiency Stage in the year 2016. And this year, the LGU-Legazpi had received Gold Trailblazer Award for Institutionalization.

For 9 years, Legazpi has been part of the program with the vision of making the city as one of the top 5 convention destinations in Luzon by 2020. According to Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal, the city is now a “favorite convention destination by many organizations”.

For the past years, the number of tourist arrivals in the city has been increasing. In 2015, there were almost a million visitors, higher than the 700,000 in 2014 and 579,470 in 2013. Legazpi hosted several big gatherings such as the 1st International Convention on Children and Family, National Information and Communication Technology Summit, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), Adventure and Travel Conference and many other large events and gatherings. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that Bicol had the highest growth rate among regions in the country in 2015 – 8.4% – as investments poured into major economic hubs, Naga and Legazpi.

The mayor attributes these successes to the presence of infrastructure built to accommodate more people – including the Legazpi Airport, hotels, major malls, and support infrastructure facilities.

Sustainability

Despite this, Rosal said there is still work to be done. “What is important now is sustainability. We know that many more people will come, that is why we need to build up the branding of the city,” he said. Rosal added that any reform in governance is a challenge but “it will pay off” in the end. “There are a lot of challenges but it was never really a hindrance because we do believe that the system now is in place. We have now the collaborative efforts of everyone, even from the lowest member of the local government of Legazpi. And really, it’s a shared responsibility,” Good governance begins with us”.

Rosal noted that maintaining focus is more important than executing several projects that lead nowhere. “‘Wag natin madaliin. Wag nating pilitin. (Let’s not hurry. Let’s not force it.) What is important is how we are able to accept and embrace the system and what will be used in the continuance of the program. It’s not how fast. It’s the quality,” he added.

Recently, Legazpi City was recognized for earning the DILG’s 2017 Seal of Good Local Governance, among 448 other LGUs. A clear manifestation that the City Government of Legazpi is belongs to the Island of Good Governance.

The awards manifest that the officials and members of LGU-Legazpi are doing their respective jobs in order to sustain the progressivity of the locale. On one of the interviews with Mayor Rosal, conducted by a local media network, He said, “In Legazpi, it is not only the Mayor who thinks and plan in search for development, employees has the opportunity to illuminate his/her intended direction for the future.” This means that the government opens an opportunity, not only to the high-ranking officials but also to its employees, to express their notions that will contribute more to the development of the city itself and in giving public services.

But earning this award gives no end to Mayor Rosal’s good governance together with all the people behind it. The City is still on its people’s service!