Monthly Archives: May 2019

CHANGE: First 100 Days (2) – A Focus on Solid Waste Management

Part 2 of 10: Days 11 to 20 – Rolling Our Sleeves For the Real Work – Identifying Newer, More Cost-Effective and Efficient Solutions to Address Solid Waste Management

The word CHANGE has become a cliche these days. It has become an overused and misunderstood political slogan for decades. A political challenger uses the word against a ruling power to emphasize the need for change in rulers. Because of what the word has become effective for political campaigns – it has become a brand, a theme, a by-word. Sadly many do not understand CHANGE as a sytemic process. Change not in the sense of simply changing rulers but changing mindsets, processes, systems, strategies, techniques that do not work or no longer work. Or ways that have become obsolete irrelevant, unresponsive to the actual needs and problems today. The word CHANGE has become so political – it has become a mere word.

In Bacolod, the whole city is crying for systemic change. Thousands of citizens do not know exactly what to ask but everyone knows many things need to change. The cry, the aspirations, the sentiments for improvements, for new directions, new strategies have been drowned out by too much political noise. But I am thankful, I had the opportunity to revisit many communities and listened to some. I may have lost the elections in numbers, but my mental database have been enriched with more understanding of the problems in the communities. And just like when I lost for the first time in 2001 as a councilor, I considered the experience as God’s way of opening my heart, making me understand why I need to join public service.

In this backdrop, I resume to write the second part of my First 100 Days Towards Change. Having walked the path again these past 7 months, I wish to pay tribute to all those who journeyed with me by writing down my thoughts as to how I would have effected change. It is my prayer that these becomes a useful material for new leaders.

Part 1 was my first ten days if I was elected in office. Here is my idea of my Days 11 to 20 – devoted to general cleaning.

One important area that needs serious change is in the aspect of solid waste management. The traditional garbage collection and dumping should no longer be the only solutions. Given the chance, my next ten days in office could have been focused in setting changes for this aspect.

Day 11 and 12 – Form the Solid Waste Management Audit Team to conduct a thorough audit of the solid waste management program of the city in order to immediately resolve apparent lack of action for all uncollected garbage, identifying immediate, short term and long term solutions). The city spends almost half a billion pesos a year these past years in SWM and yet there remains so many unresolved issues like inefficient collection, a disconnect between the mandatory segregation at source and the final dumping process.

During the campaign, I have paid the Felisa Landfill (which still appears to be an open dumpsite, and sadly so many are comfortable of referring to the same as a dumpsite when under Republic Act No. 9003, open and even controlled dumpsites were already prohibited startiung 2005. The area appears to host mixed waste. Sadly sorrounding the are as scavengers trying to make a decent living but without any facility to actually sort the garbage. I pity the scavengers and even the “junkers” who are prey to those who want to make money out of them still, despite the very measly value of a full day work. I can still remember the tears of one scavengers sharing her story.

Day 13 and 14 – The SWM Team shall immediately convene concerned Bacolodnons who are expert in the various fields related SWM, especially in specific aspects like hazardous or toxic wastes, recyclables, hospital wastes, food wastes, industrial and agricultural waste, and other aspects to identify and consolidated strategies to create a holistic approach to address the SWM problem of Bacolod on a short term and long term or sustainable basis considering the most cost-effective and efficient means. My dream is to see the Felisa dumpsite become a fully-compliant landfill and beside it shall stand a state-of-the-art city-wide materials recovery facility (MRF). I have promised the scavengers a better life – because they will be an important part of the mission of saving Bacolod from being engulfed with garbage.

Day 15 and 16 – The SWM Team shall meet with all the barangays in Bacolod to identify and consolidate all strategies and mechanisms as to how the city can partner with the barangays to achieve its SWM targets and how the city can empower the barangays in terms of resources.

Day 17 and 18 – The SWM Team shall present their findings, initialy strategies and reommendations. The DENR and other agencies must be part of the team and the panel to evaluate all the strategies. There has to be more emphasis on segregation at source by creating ways to incentivize compliance, seriously designing recycling and upcycling programs and conversion of waste to useful items to approximate the global call for zero waste. In the coming months, I shall make way for discussions about alternative and creative schemes.

Day 19 and 20 – The final output of the SWM Team shall be presented to policymakers, public officials and various agencies and most all the citizens or Bacolod who will become part and parcel of the vision for an integrated approach to SWM in Bacolod. Clear and specific timelines and success indicators shall be put in place.

CHANGE is not just about changing people. It is about changing mindsets and systems. We only have one city, one Earth. We have no right to destroy it. If we understand our mission, we know we can do it.

Here is a link to my privilege speech 11 years ago as a city councilor – concerning this matter for reference:

CHANGE: First 100 Days (1) – Organizational Development

Part 1 of 10: My proposed first 10 Days – Visioning and Onboarding, Strenghtening Stakeholders to Ensure Good and Results-Centric Govenance

Change is inevitable. Apparently in Bacolod, the current administration repeatedly insists “We don’t need change.” A repetitive campaign slogan that many swallowed hook, line and sinker.

From the side of the public, the dangerous thinking of not needing change is fanned by an almost debilitating belief that all politicians are the same. Hence, whoever sits will never change anything. Everyone is rotten. We are all looped like hoops in a string. That the system is rotten so everyone should might as well take the money and forget what happens tomorrow. Well guess what, I refused to be classified. I do not easily follow patterns, neither do I fall for fads.

My theory (and many will brush it aside as simply that) is change is a must. To improve from Point A to Point B is change. Sadly, this city has no room for proper discussion except the usual mud-slinging we all expected to witness during the campaign period. Although I tried my best to present all the stategies and ideas for seven months, the same was drowned by the noise and frenzy of political exercises. The intellectual (mostly non-functionals) called us clowns in a circus – they were simply too good to even care about what politicians say. On one hand, the poor masses looked at us like messiahs. In the end, the more potent potion was the smell of crisp peso bills.

Nonetheless, the most important battle is the battle we fight inside us. When we look at ourselves in the mirror and ask – did I fail? For me failure is relative. More often in life – you either win or you learn. In my case, I learned a lot. I have improved my ability to stand in the crowd without losing myself. I know what I want to do and I know why I want to do it. My mission is to see that changes happen in this city. I failed in getting the chance to do it – but I did not fail in making a stand, up to the end.

This is my first 100 days plan based on the platform I presented to the People of Bacolod. Since the election is now over and I failed in my bid, I am simply sharing this for academic purposes. As the current administration says we don’t need change. So be it. Hence this piece is for other mayors of other cities, who may want to use the ideas in this article as reference. So please indulge me, after all this is just an academic piece, and for the jaded eyes, a rant. (But I would appreciate permission before use.)

Day 1 – Present and explain in detail in clear, precise and concise terms the VISION – what and where Bacolod will be on June 30, 2022: A smarter, stronger, humane and inclusive city of the future. I will share the goals in terms of numbers (how many jobs to generate, what roadmaps to prepare, what are the systems to put in place or to improve, if existing) Outline and explain the MISSION – what are the major objectives in the key areas (business and commerce, health and environment, local governance, culture and values, among others). Gather initial suggestions and empower both public and private sector leaders in achieving the vision.

Day 2 – Initiate an Organization Development (OD) Process to revisit, review and strengthen the work ethics and organization culture of city government employees to improve and professionalize delivery of public service.

Organization development (OD) is the study of successful organizational change and performance. OD emerged from human relations studies in the 1930s, during which psychologists realized that organizational structures and processes influence worker behavior and motivation. More recently, work on OD has expanded to focus on aligning organizations with their rapidly changing and complex environments through organizational learning, knowledge management and transformation of organizational norms and values. Key concepts of OD theory include: organizational climate (the mood or unique “personality” of an organization, which includes attitudes and beliefs that influence members’ collective behavior), organizational culture (the deeply-seated norms, values and behaviors that members share) and organizational strategies (how an organization identifies problems, plans action, negotiates change and evaluates progress). (Source: Organizational Development Theory)

Day 3 – Create and meet with various key task forces in the city, such as but not limited to to:

Cluster 1: Road, Traffic, Disaster and Risk, and Security and Safety management Task Force

Cluster 2: Housing, Drainage, and Social Services Task Force

Cluster 3: Environment, Health and Sanitation Task Force

Cluster 4: Infrastructure, Business Environment and Talent Development Task Force

Cluster 5: Values, Governance, Transparency, Accountability, and Citizen’s Participation Task Force

Cluster 6: Tourism, Hospitality, Heritage, History, Arts and Culture Task Force

Cluster 7: Sectoral Development and Empowerment Task Force

Cluster 8: Barangay Empowerment and Development Task Force

Cluster 9: Legal, Contract and Ordinances Review and Implementation Task Force

Cluster 10: Digital Services and Automation Projects Task Force

Each cluster shall be given concrete timeframe to review current situation, identify problems and challenges, recommend strategies and solutions to address these. They shall be encourahged to create sub-clusters to address specific areas of concerns.

Day 3 – Review OD reccomendations from Day 2 and act on necessary changes to improve organizations efficiency.

Day 4 – Meet with all department heads to drill down the vision and get more ideas.

Day 5 – Create sectoral desks to address concerns of each sector.

Day 6 – Meet with and present vision to all barangay officials and gather more ideas and solutions. Identify specific priority projects for each barangay.

Day 7 – Meet with Sanggunian Panlungsod members and listen to concerns of each Commitee. Identify and review ordinances that urgently needs to be implemented. Identify proposed ordinances that are necessary for Bacolod. Outline various support needed by each committee. Create the LEDAC (Legislative Executive Developmemt Agenda Committee) to initialize discussion for an Executive Agenda to be merged with a Legislative Agenda to create the ELA (Executive Legislative Agenda)

Day 8 – Initialize physical immediate reforms such cost-cutting measures for energy consumption in all local government facilities, strict implementation of solid waste disposal in all public facilities. Digitize files to save space and many other ways to improve flow of air inside the government center.

Day 9 – Meet with key leaders in the private sector and identify various development roadmap for the creation of new business and industries in Bacolod. Address long standing private sector concerns and open the doors for continuing dialogues with the private sector to explore solutions.

Day 10 – Recieve, review, and act upon all recommendations and proposals collated during the first 9 days. The idea is to ensure that all recommendations improve access of ordinary citizens to public services, equitable distribution of support services to all sectors, and facilitate the smooth flow communications between different stakeholders. The first ten days are aimed at strengthening the working relations between various sectors and to but ensure the proper onboarding of all participants to the vision.

Change is inevitable. But whether we change towards disaster or oblivion or change towards higher grounds is another thing. I am hoping the academics who scrutinize public service like a laboratory rat enjoy this piece.

To be continued.

Note: Photo was taken at the Felisa Dumpsite, Bacolod City

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters ” – Colossians 3:23

The Journey Towards Change Starts Within

A Post-Election Reflection of Atty. Jocelle Batapa-Sigue

When I decided to run for office last October 7, 2018, I already knew that decision will be another life-changer for me. It was a decision I need to make because I believed in the vision of creating positive change for Bacolod. I already knew it will be extremely difficult, but I am made of a different stuff – my heart is fired up with ideas that I want to see come alive. That desire to hold in my hands proof of concepts that many can only imagine with their minds.

I am challenged by the mission of re-inventing the city – making it smarter, stronger, humane and more inclusive.

During the filing of the certificate of candidacy for mayor last October 2018

I set several conditions before I decided to run. None of these conditions required money contrary to what my critics said.

Excerpts from my scribbled notes when I decided to run last October

It began as a journey of one seven months ago, but since I took the step, more than a hundred thousand people have walked with me.

Walking along one of the footwalks for Bacolod during the campaign

Despite all the major storms I have braved in my life, I am still here today – grateful for every experience. Thankful to everyone I have met along the way. They provided me with inspiration.

With volunteers and supporters in one of our night rallies

There were those who I met for the first time – people I do not know but wished to help bring about change. There where longtime friends who extended support because I have been there for them somehow and they believed in my vision. There were those who has advocacies and causes aligned with my vision, those who believed in the same strategies I wish to explore. There were those who never shared any of my advocacies in the past but came forward to join me. There were those who sent their support and well-wishes directly to me – begging for anonymity for one reason or another.

At our Opening Salvo
Talking to women in the barangays

I also felt the support of family members – and my decision to run for mayor brought us all together and made us even closer. Private citizens from all walks of came to offer their assistance for my campaign. It was not as huge as what was expected of a mayoralty candidate, but I was a stickler for rules anyway and wants to stay within the allowed campaign expenses (even when it means experience so much difficulty in ensuring the resources go a long way).

Selfie mode with supporters

It took me a few months to summon my courage to enter the political arena again and resume my public persona in November and December last year. Having decided to finally step out of politics in 2016 was like an oasis. I enjoyed every second of it. The three years I have spent in the private sector was somehow too hard to sacrifice but I felt the Lord has mission for me that I needed to forget myself.

Beating the heat of the midday sun to reach as many communities

It was inspiring to know well the candidates in my slate – some I knew before while others are new to me. I could not ask for a better team. People will always gauge our slate based on traditional metrics like popularity or money – but my team was composed of genuine and sincere people who has so much ideas to share.

Brainstorming time with slate
Visiting the Sum-ag River
Taking a quick snack break
Sharing food with the community

When I started to make the rounds in January, I realized in my heart I need to see all these again. The Lord knows I am always moved to tears or is very angered by the sight of helplessness and hopelessness. But I have seen it all again. This time even worse.

As the days went by, my resolve to stand firm and move forward became stronger. As people began to pin their hopes on the solutions I offered, I became bolder in expressing my message. The heat of the sun was was almost unbearable. I was expecting to fall flat on my face from dehydration or sunstroke at any moment – but maintaining a cheerful disposition, while sweat and tears were freely streaming down my face. All I wished was not to let my team down.

Campaigning at the weekend markets
My daily handshaking routine in the barangays
In one of our pocket meetings where I get to present my vision

Since I am a night person, I stay up to prepare my materials for the next day only to feel very sleepy the following day. Yet I have tried my very best to wake up and shake hands in all the barangays – excited to meet our supporters, our volunteers and have coffee with them. I already missed them as of this writing. Minus the heat of the sun. I can endure the long hours of walk especially in the company of my volunteers.

Listening to a supporter about problems in her purok

What really proved to be a test of patience for me was the paid trolls of the opposing camp. Some with real names. I was praying every night for them to stop – asking what in the world would these people have against me personally. But dirty politics is cruel. It goes beyond the issues to strike your person. It was like the Devil playing computer games – destroying my name, my family and everything I hold dear. Such deception is among the tool of the Devil. Such a test of faith and courage for me to endure the pain for every lie and device. But the Lord always says vengeance is His.

I wanted to move forward more positively and take the opportunity to share the messages I wish to spread instead on dwelling on the negative.

Enjoying the company of children in the barangays
Talking to women in the barangays

Honestly, I was very interested in knowing the problems of each community, sitting for hours just to discuss how we can provide solutions, and oftentimes oblivious of the fact that I need to campaign and win first.

Today, I have long list or plans, programs and solutions that I wish to roll out. I am blessed to have met people who sincerely want to help bring about these programs to reality so we can witness positive changes around us. This is what I do best – bring people together to work on a mission. The next few years will be inspiring and exciting.

I have firmed up in my head based on empirical data – the solutions for solid waste management that will not only make us compliant with the law, but also protect our environment from eventual degradation, lessen our horrendous cost from public funds, and provide livelihood to people. Solutions addressing homelessmness in Bacolod, boosting job generation targets and access to basic social services and primary health care. In my talks, I have presented how ordinary citizens can participate in designing and testing these solutions – aimed at saving public funds but solving real problems. There are many things we can do – and I wish I had the chance to do those things as mayor. However, nothing can prevent us in the private sector to pursue our goals of impacting our communities.

As a friend says, we have to lose the battle to win the war. This is my journey towards change. I realized the vision of creating a smarter, stronger, humane and inclusive city is not only meant for Bacolod. My journey has made me smarter, stronger, more humane and inclusive as a catalyst, a leader, a changemaker. I pray too that everyone who shared my journey has become that.

The long tedious journey to change begins with each and everyone of us

Having survived seven months of an electoral process marked with a lot of extreme difficulties, I and everyone who aspired for change deserve to understand. This is not about winning or losing – this is about correcting the processes.

People will always say I am doing this because I lost in the counting – that is a usual reaction. But what about asking – whether election results in the Philippines is as a result of one big commercial enterprise. And ordinary voters like me are here to simply legitimize the scam.

Whatever the results of the elections, the more important task is to save all the votes casted by people who believed in the cause of change. Of improving this city. Many people went out of their way to vote, to brave the rains, the waiting time, the long queues, the heat.

For the first time in history, massive vote buying activities were administered in all barangays in Bacolod by barangay officials the day before the elections. People were lining in the streets like ants waiting for their turn to receive money. Volunteers were calling and messaging about the vote-buying in their areas. They have reported to the police COMELEC and to authorities. Some volunteers were already crying on the phone out of helplessness. Again, critics will say – all sides are doing it. That is not a justification and I do not subscribe to vote buying.  I have won three times as councilor and has never bought single vote.

The massive vote buying activities smoke-screened and diverted the public’s attention from the long queues, defective VCM, SD cards, and ballots and the sudden power outages all over Bacolod in the afternoon. In some barangays it lasted for only ten minutes, and in some for more than hour. The power outages happened in big barangays in a sporadic manner in the afternoon, without prior announcement, without any weather disturbance, on a Monday, on election day.

We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. There are so many discrepancies that I wish to no longer dwell in this line of discussion but to my main point – CHANGE DOES NOT HAPPEN OVERNIGHT. It takes a long process to really see the effects of change – the change that stems from the human heart. For change to happen – everyone of us must understand and embrace our roles.

With supporters after a long walk
At the official endorsement meeting of retired generals
At the opening mass for the campaign
With young people planting mangroves
Inspiring young boys to dream big
Always ending our walks with a cheerful and grateful heart

I have tried my best to abide as much as I can with everything in the rulebook because I know change can only come about when leaders abide with electoral laws. I always believe the end will not always justify the means.

We need to amplify the right metrics in choosing our leaders to hold them accountable for their actions and inactions every election using objective criteria. Only when Bacolodnons use the right metrics and keep to fair and legal practices in electing their leaders can this city have good leaders.

We need to have strong church and civic leaders to really instill the proper way of selecting leaders. The media need to cleanse its ranks and really understand its roles in creating change. Unless we have strong institutions run by leaders with integrity, it will be very difficult to effect change.

We only have ourselves to blame for what is to come – the future is crucial. Even large organizations need to change, to pivot in order to survive disruptions. So does a city. The defeat I suffered last May 13 is not mine alone. It is shared by everyone who aspires for change.

I have survived until the end carrying the message of change where citizens are treated as stakeholders, a community where leaders shall openly work with everyone to achieve positive and concrete outcomes. There is no defeat but only victory for people who have stood with me until the end. There is no concession for a cause that continues on – the dream of lifting up this city from patronage politics where every institution is controlled by money and favors and has no voice to assert their concerns. A city where laborers are forced to share their earnings for political ends. A city where people cower out of fear of retaliation for their political choices. I cannot accept and concede to this system.

I cannot concede to a defeat in an elections controlled by money, manipulations, lies, deceits, patronage politics marred with numerous unlawful practices, to which persons responsible simply turned a blind eye.

At our Opening Salvo

I have taken the first step towards the journey. I have used the stage given to me to send the message that people need to to transcend and fight even themselves – face the monsters that they have created in their heads. The enemy is inside us – the mindset of tolerance to poor and substandard governance, hopelessness and lack of will to fight systemic flaws of society and the selfishness to always think about the inconvenience of standing for change.

I have fought a good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.

– 2 Timothy 4:7

The journey is long and tedious. I have made my decision last October – it is now for every Bacolodnon to make.

The journey has just begun

We have all won against our own fears! I am proud to be part of this!

Madamo guid nga Salamat, Bacolod!