03 March 2007

The tragedy of Pasay City

ONE OF the remarkable information I got from attending today's General Assembly of the Galing Pook Foundation has something to do with Pasay City. And it is a far cry from the political turmoil that has engulfed its city government.

If you want to have an idea about the latter, try googling the latest news on "Pasay City" -- as I did here -- and you will find such names as Calixto, Panaligan, Trinidad and the other protagonists in the still unfolding political saga there.

But did you know that the city's 2002 Gawad Galing Pook award-winning Bayanihan Banking Program is the most replicated local government initiative in the country behind our School Board effort in Naga -- embraced by more than 30 city governments nationwide, and generating more than P40 million in combined savings by and for its low-income members? This was revealed by DILG Assistant Secretary and Galing Pook managing trustee Austere Panadero in his report to the body. This article from the Sun.Star Cebu paints a less technical but more effective picture of what the program does.

Now that a national government-installed leadership has assumed power and -- like its patron in Malacañang -- will not relinquish it so easily, I wonder what became of this initiative, and its traiblazing twin in 2003 called Philhealth Plus -- uncannily similar to what helped President Gloria Arroyo win in the 2004 elections, according to her bitterest critics. Clearly, what is happening in Pasay right now is a disservice to what its people and government contributed to local governance in the country.