Do we need “little mayors” in Dagupan?

By Leonardo Micua



THERE is certainly more than meets the eye in the planned reorganization of the Dagupan City hall per a proposed ordinance submitted to the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP), which was certified as urgent by the city executive. We heard that aside from upgrading some offices in the executive department into full departments and creating more positions in different offices, the mayor’s office proposed to create a powerful Executive Management Group, a  new department  under him that  will help him oversee  all the departments of the city government.

Lo and behold! So powerful is the proposed EMG, that methinks will function like a super body, which the mayor may delegate some of his functions. From the initial presentation during the SP’s last regular session, we were made to believe that the EMG will be above the office of the City Administrator, as the latter was proposed to be separated from the office of the city mayor and made as a separate department.

Methinks that if the reorganization plan will be approved blindly by the SP, it will only legalize the duties and functions of the “little mayors” who we were informed are already  lording over most if not all the affairs at city hall.

The Department of Budget and Management initially expressed reservations to the proposed  creation of the EMG as a super department that will likely oversee all the offices in the city government, virtually clipping the powers of the city administrator and reducing him into a mere figure head.

On top of that, those that will comprise the EMG will have co-terminus appointments. This means, the co-terminus appointees are not accountable to the people, unlike career officials bound to observe civil service rules and procedures since they will only be accountable to the appointing authority.

As a super department, it can crack the whip on all departments of the city government and make every officials and employees toe the line if they were perceived to be uncooperative.

Dagupan is one of the smallest cities in the Philippines that just joined the billionaires club and only during the administration of then Mayor Belen Fernandez. But as a billionaire city, which is now reeling under the impact of the pandemic, it cannot afford to add another layer of authority in the plantilla that is not provided for in the local government code.

The EMG has no precedence. Not even highly urbanized cities like Makati, Quezon City, Manila, Pasig, Baguio, Cebu and Davao, with annual budgets that dwarf what Dagupan now has, do not have such a super body nor are thinking of creating one to assist their mayors in running the affairs of their cities.

Mayors Abe Binay of Makati, Isko Moreno of Manila and Vico Sotto of Pasig or even Benjie Magalong of Baguio do not need an EMG to be effective local government unit managers. Only a lazy executive who does not know how to exercise his power may want to add another layer of authority in his turf. If the  SP will throw caution to the wind if and succumbs to pressures from city hall. Dagupan will soon be managed by a core group of unelected officials with no accountability.

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Dagupan continues to sizzle under the scorching sun daily, registering a record heat index of 52 degrees Celsius on May 12 at 2 p.m., the highest in the country. That was one degree higher than the 51 degrees Celsius recorded last May 8, which we thought was already the record heat index in our city.

A thunderstorm occurred briefly in early evening of May 12, following that record-breaking heat index. That was beneficial since I did have to water the garden plants the next morning. But the sudden rain, I am sure, put much pressure as always on the bangus being raised in captivity because of the change of temperature from hot to cold.

We were informed that the higher heat index in Dagupan has already exacted heavy tolls on the local bangus industry. As reported by a number of growers, some of their fishes are dying from the punishing temperature in the water.

In fact, some fish raisers have been forced to harvest prematurely their still undersized fishes practically selling these at almost give-away prices at the Magsaysay Fish Market.

Since it is still summer and until nature intervenes, we will likely be experiencing more hot days ahead in the next few weeks. Nature seems to be now working against us because we have a compromised the environment in the past, ignoring its needs.

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