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Crowded agenda

WHILE the eyes and ears of media are focused on the next President’s ability to quickly fill up some 18,000 positions of national import, we have to wonder if the newly elected/reelected local officials spark a similar enthusiasm among their voters?

What lies beneath is where local government’s presence or intrusion shows in its might and right to use and abuse its powers, just ask any plain citizen trying to get hold of a license, permit, receipt, a piece of paper as small as a documentary stamp or as large as a TCT, and let’s see how governors, mayors, and councilors will be singing in tune with the hallelujah chorus of Team Duterte.

As the cabinet-to-be focuses on big-ticket items like infrastructure, finance and the economy, justice, foreign policy, etc. – issues that Every One considers too far from their kidneys to be relevant – the 19 million who caused Digong’s victory would feel more secure if their mayors inspired the same aspirations for a more caring government (make that local government).

What matters to them is not what goes on in the castles-in-the-air of Big Government but down in the streets (transportation, traffic), in their homes (beauty, peace and safety), in public hospitals (where free services may not amount to much), in the city or municipal hall (where buying a document of no value to anyone but yourself spells an ordeal of mysterious delays – the tyranny of clerical scrutiny!).

In the 2016 elections, two city mayors fought for supremacy, Davao winning over Makati, but they are only two examples of the urbanization that has been creeping up on us over the last half-century. With relentless migration into the cities spawning congestion, poverty, crime, and the rest of the symptoms of urban sprawl – urban crawl is more like it in Metro Manila – our leaders have been spectacularly dumb and mute in giving the crowded cities more breathing space.

It’s a crowded agenda, all right. Manilans are not the only ones worthy of immediate solutions – not that their mayors think like urban planners – but Mr. Duterte, while our rural cousins beg for 100 percent priority, city slickers can only wish their mayors were more like you.