There is one dream that we all share. This is our dream that our children have a better life than we now have. This shared dream means one thing, that here and now, we can unite around one vision, the vision of Bacolod as a city where our children can have a better future.
No mother in Bacolod should have to understand why her child has to die of malnutrition, preventable disease, or drugs, or crime. No child should be out of school; no family should have to live in extreme poverty. But this is not the case and if we are to change the situation, we must ask ourselves, “WHY?” As a candidate, I am also confronted with the question, “What do you care? All you want is my vote. What can you do for me?”
Will you give me work if I become your campaign leader. Ma’am, will you let my child study in La Salle? As long as you can give me transactions in city hall, you’re okay with me. Attorney, we’re really poor and my father is sick. I will support whoever helps us with medicines and hospital expenses. Boss, the franchise of my jeepney is fake. As long as we can keep quiet about this, I’m with you.
Special benefits for favored supporters are easy to promise. But is this system honest, is it lawful? Who pays for these favors? Can there be peace and unity with this system? Does political patronage benefit our near half a million Bacolenos or is it good only for the politician and his supporters. Is there no other way to be a good politician, a good mayor?
Andrea Lizares Si and Bacolod 2020 reject the piecemeal solutions that might benefit a few thousand families but keep our city from progressing and our streets and barangays lacking in order and discipline. We also believe that for as long as public office is for sale to the highest bidder, corruption will continue and the government will never truly use the power and resources of the people for the good of the people. In this situation, our dream of a better life for our children here in Bacolod will not be realized in the near future. For many of us, the biggest dream will be that of being able to send our children abroad because there is no opportunity here in Bacolod.
I think you will agree that for our city to be good for our children’s future, we want Bacolenos to be honest, disciplined, and law-abiding. We want this, right? And we teach our children to be honest, disciplined, and law-abiding. But honesty, discipline, and faithfulness to the rule of law have to begin with the leaders we elect! If we want a better future for our children, we must choose officials who lead by example, who embody in their private and public lives, the ideal of a government of TRUTHS: T-Trustworthy; R-Responsive; U-Unifying; T-Transparent; H-Humane; and S-Sustainable.
We in Bacolod 2020 come from NGOs, civil society, and people’s organizations. Long before we joined politics, we have been working for change. I placed 6th in the bar but I have dedicated my life to the cause of women, the basic sectors, the environment, and honest, efficient, and responsive governance. This background means that when we tell you what our objectives and priorities are, we’re not just trying to get your vote.
Together with Bacolod 2020, my three objectives for Bacolod are:
1. An environment conducive for sustainable development
2. Minimum 10% improvement annually in the quality of life of the lowest 30 percent of the population
3. Bacolod as the center of trade, education, arts and sciences, and tourism in a progressive Negros Occidental.
Pursuant to these objectives, we intend to focus on 4 priority areas, in each case, giving a preferential option for the poor:
1. The first area of concern is Health & Nutrition – All programs and policies of the LGU should align with this thrust to make Bacolod a city in which we and our children can be healthy. Preventive healthcare and sanitation programs as well programs for keeping our environment clean and green will therefore get full support.
Existing local and national health programs, like Barangay Health Clinics, Maternal and Child Care and Philhealth coverage for indigents, will be continued to benefit a bigger portion of our population. I will not promote artificial methods of birth control but it is the government’s responsibility to provide our parents with information and support so that they can practice responsible parenthood. As a mother, my pet programs will be potable water for every home; feeding programs for children 10 and below in the poorest barangays; and implementation of environmentally sound solid waste management programs.
2. To sustain our healthy city, we need education so that our children will learn good citizenship and knowledge and skills that will enable them to achieve their full potential as productive and happy adults, – Every child should be able to finish high-school. Access to free public schools is not enough. The LGU must invest in upgrading the standard of our schools and assisting poor parents so that they will send children to school and not to the streets. The adopt a school program deserves to be popularized. Of course programs and scholarships for vocational training and tertiary education will continue and if possible, be expanded or increased.
Bacolod is safer, more peaceful, and less expensive than Manila and Cebu. Even when I was City Administrator and acting chair of the Bacolod Investment Council from 2001 to 2004, we already saw that Bacolod can be promoted as an ideal center for Tertiary and Vocational Educational as well as for language learning. Notice how much business we’re doing because of Koreans studying here.
3. Business & Economic Opportunities are necessary to sustain a healthy city – There will be more jobs and more tax revenues if the climate is favorable for business and investments. The poor should have access to soft loans and support programs for home-industries and micro-enterprises. Not only must the LGU ensure peace and order and road safety, we must further reduce red tape, assist investors, and work for the creation of I.T. parks, economic zones, and light industries. My pet projects will be the rehabilitation of the downtown area and the establishment of a functional partnership with the province and the private sector to promote Bacolod & Negros for investments, education, and tourism.
4. Little can happen as far as Health, Education, and Business are concerned if we do not have honest, efficient, and responsive governance. Essential to success in the first three areas of concern is therefore Government reform. There are three priorities here:
a. greater involvement of the private sector in the different development councils and consultative bodies as well as in the implementation of projects. The urban poor, our biggest sector, deserve an Urban Poor Council to advice the LGU on Urban Poor concerns.
b. institution of systems that will cut red tape and make government transactions more transparent so that we can reduce if not eliminate corruption,
c. Good fund management and fiscal discipline, which would include having the right priorities for LGU spending and monitoring and evaluation of projects so that money is not wasted.
With a government that is honest, effective, and responsive, we trust that the private sector will be happy to contribute its share in the building of our city. National-LGU-province cooperation and coordination in policy formulation, planning, prioritization, and program/project implementation should also mean more efficient use of available resources.
Can Bacolod become a city where basic needs are basic rights for ourselves and our children (and not just the right of supporters), where poverty and all forms of violence have been eliminated, Where our children can realize their potential and become everything that God created them to be? We believe that a united and vigilant citizenry can make this possible. If we work together, we can make Bacolod a city where our children can have a better future.
This is the 10 minute presentation that I made at the Bishop's-Candidates-Media Forum that was held today, January 14, 2009 at the University of St. La Salle. I am running against three men, the incumbent mayor, the incumbent congressman who is running for mayor, and a businessman who is pouring millions into his campaign. The two incumbents have serious corruption issues against them but they have the money and well oiled machineries so the fight is really between the two of them at the moment. They are busy tearing each other down though and the 3rd guy is happy to join the fray so who knows, I may be the only one left standing when election day comes. Anyway, the forum was very well covered by media, and my supporters tell me that I was the only one who followed the rules (no personal attacks, keeping a high-level of discourse) and who answered questions intelligently and straight to the point.