BONGAO, TAWI-TAWI The Rewards of Reforming the Local Bureaucracy

BONGAO is one of the 307 islands and islets that comprise the province of Tawi-Tawi in southern Philippines. Bongao was so named because of the herons that heavily populated the islands in the past. “Bangaw” is the local term for heron. It has three major islands, Sanga Sanga, Bongao and Pababag. Bud Bongao or Bongao Peak stands like a sentinel over the main island of Bongao.

Before the coming of the Spaniards, the inhabitants of Bongao lived under several types of leadership based on the ethnic origin of the ruler. When the Americans took over in 1898, a “President” was appointed to oversee the administration of community affairs. Bongao was a mere political district under the province of Sulu. It was during this time that formal education was introduced in this part of the country with Arolas Tulawi as the first teacher. The first “President” of Bongao was Datu Halun Sakilan who ruled from 1898 to 1932. He was followed by Datu Wagas Halun (1932-1936), Panglima Jalilul (1938-1943) and then Imam Arabani Aplaha (1934-1944).

When the Second World War broke out, the term “President” was changed to “mayor” as the chief executive of the district. Since no election was held at that time, the position of mayor was still appointive. The following served as appointed mayors: Datu Wagas Halun (1945-1946); Sandakan Adjaluddin (1946-1949); Mangkabong Nasa (1949-1950); Imam Mudaala Annao (1950-1951); Imam Agihil (1951-1954); Dioeng Tadus (1956-1957); Epifanio Hernandez (1957), and Ibrahim Hassan (1957-1959)

In 1958, President Carlos P. Garcia issued Executive Order No. 355 creating the Municipality of Bongao. That time, Bongao was still part of Sulu Province. The EO took effect on July 1, 1958 with Ibrahim Hassan as the first appointed mayor. With him was Binging Ho who was appointed Vice Mayor.

When the first election took place in 1964, Binging Ho became the first elected mayor of Bongao. He remained mayor for 22 years or until the EDSA Revolution in 1986.

Upon her election as president in 1986, Corazon Aquino appointed Dr. George R. Lee Officer-in-Charge. In 1988, Sulay Halipa was elected mayor of Bongao, making him the second elected mayor since the municipality was created in 1958. He served for three consecutive terms, spanning a total of 10 years (1988-1998).

In 1998, Hji Sali E. Samsuya took over. He served as mayor for only two years due to his untimely death on August 14, 2000. By law of succession then vice mayor Albert Que took over. The fourth elected mayor, Que served for nine years. When his term ended in 2009, his son Jasper became new mayor.

QUICK FACTS

Tawi-Tawi is composed of three major islands namely: Bongao, Pababag and Sanga-Sanga. It has a population of 79,362 distributed in 35 barangays with the bulk of the population found in Bongao island in the barangays of Bongao Poblacion, Lamion, Pag-asa, Tubig Boh and Tubig Mampailam. According to Engineer Manuel G. Pampora, the Municipal Planning and Development Officer, the growth rate is estimated at 3.15 percent, to reach an estimated population of 123,178 in 2020.

Migration from other parts of Tawi-Tawi and other provinces or from neighboring Asian countries contributed to its increasing population.

Bongao is proud of its diverse culture. The original settlers are from the Sama tribe and they compose the majority of the population. The presence of Chinese who have lived with the Sama in the area for a very long time could not be taken for granted as they have contributed largely to the development of trade and commerce in Bongao. The Tausug tribe and migrant settlers from other parts of the country as well can be found in some of the barangays. Majority of the population is Muslim (95 percent) while the rest are of different religious affiliations.

How it all began

Annie Abdulmapor, Municipal Administrator, said that it took Bongao 10 years of struggle from the time Mayor Albert Que assumed office in 2000 to see results of the reforms they instituted. Before he took over, although Bongao was the center of trade and commerce in the province of Tawi-Tawi, the economy did not flourish and many people were poor. Much needed infrastructure projects such as farm-to-market roads and bridges were absent.

Because transportation infrastructure and services were inefficient, prices of basic commodities were high. Fruits and vegetables, for example, had to come from Pagadian City which is some 25 hours away by boat.

Because of inadequate local government support, the business community also failed to thrive as businessmen were hesitant to pour in investments.

The income of Bongao from local sources of revenue was minimal and basic services delivery was slow. Abdulmapor said that business application process was crawling and the delays were often caused by the absence of government personnel to handle transactions. It was also characterized by lack of facilities and equipment, and unsystematic office processes. The LGU personnel were poorly paid and majority lacked the proper training for the positions they were occupying. It didn’t help any that there was no budget to allow them to avail of skills training run by government or private institutions.

In 2000 Albert Que who was then councilor became mayor by way of succession. Even while serving as city legislator, he believed that the municipality had a lot of potential which were not tapped due basically to weak governance. As a businessman, he wanted to apply business principles in running the municipality knowing that as the center of trade in the province and its proximity to the state of Sabah in Malaysia, Bongao could very well take center stage as a business hub in Mindanao.

INNOVATION

Getting the private sector on board

As soon as he became mayor, Que’s first program of action was to ensure the proper management of financial resources and committed to increase the income of the municipality to be able to implement priority projects that will spur development and make the lives of the people better.

To do this Que hired Annie Abdulmapor, a certified public accountant, from the private sector to assess and make recommendations on financial resource mobilization and management. Key LGU personnel were sent to other towns for exposure and to learn about projects that can be replicated in Bongao. They also availed of the trainings on Transparent and Accountable Governance and Human Resource Management and Development Program (HRMDP) to enhance their capacities. They also participated in government trainings and seminars on Local Government Administration and Governance. Modern technology was also tapped as the municipality started computerizing different LGU departments for prompt and efficient transactions. Fund sourcing and raising counterpart funds for implementation of development projects were unrelentingly conducted.

Helen Sabayani, head of the Assessor’s office, said that after 2010 they continued the information campaign on business permits, licenses payment and realty taxes. The municipality has diligently shared its collection with the barangays and the province.

Of the total tax collected, one percent goes to the Local School Board which is one of the priority projects of the municipality. As a member herself, Sabayani is involved in ensuring that the projects have adequate funding. She cites the feeding programs, pilot schools and training of teachers as among those that were given funding from the tax collections.

Sabayani believes that they were successful in reaching their collection target because they were able to explain to the people, through the years, where their taxes were going. It was a long and painstaking effort which sometimes led to threats on their lives, but when the taxpayers saw improvements in the

way the municipality was run and how they were able to benefit from these, collection became easier. Since 2006, the Bongao LGU has conducted massive information campaigns through radio plugs and business tax mapping to identify businesses not paying real property taxes. It may have taken them a couple of years but she can say now that businessmen have learned that government certifications are necessary when they want to avail of services from government.

Bongao derives its income from trading and agricultural activities. Sabayani said that agriculture is faring a whole lot better now after farm-to-market roads were built. She said that farmers in Barangay Lapid-Lapid are now doing a lot of business with the nearby municipality of Panlimasugala due to better roads and a bridge connecting the islands. The vegetable farmers no longer have to go down from their farms to cross the other island by boat, which is tedious and costly, after the bridge was built.

Recognized as having an effective financial management system, Sabayani said that personnel in the finance department of the LGU know their responsibilities and are held accountable for all transactions done in their office. Sanctions for erring employees regarding business transactions are enforced. The Galing Pook ARMM 2010 magazine noted that before “the income of the LGU from local tax collections was not adequately monitored. The collectors were reportedly handling money unprofessionally. They bring home the collected cash with them and even use the money for their personal needs.”

Sabayani said that the local Bids and Awards Committee with the participation of civil society representatives continues to function efficiently and procurement rules and procedures are complied with especially as the LGU is receiving funding assistance for special projects from the national government and international donor agencies.

Public awareness and CSO participation as governance norms

Abdulmapor said they value transparency and accountability. To earn the trust and get the support of the people in Bongao, she said people are informed that they can access information on the activities of the LGU. They hired a Municipal Information Officer to take charge of information dissemination on what the local government is doing down to the barangay level. It also opened public access to financial transactions and contracts at the offices of the Municipal Accountant, Treasurer and other offices.

The Comprehensive Development Plan which was crafted with the help of Civil Society Organizations (CSO) has become an effective guide in the development direction of the municipality. This was conducted with the assistance of the Local Government Support Program in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (LGSP-A). Bongao Administration and Fiscal Reforms were among the major development thrusts that were prioritized by the LGU. The objectives of the development plan were to enhance the capacity of LGU personnel on effective financial management systems, efficient customer services and streamlined civil application processes; to hire appropriate number of LGU personnel; to standardize the salaries of the LGU employees; to be able to generate more local revenues through efficient tax assessment and collection system; to implement the LGU’s priority development programs that respond to the needs of the people.

Yvonne Banua, Municipal Assistant Treasurer, said that one percent or Php250,328.14 derived from local tax revenues went to fund the Local School Board. Bongao received an Internal Revenue Allotment of P8,910, 266 per month in 2012, lesser than the amount it got in 2011 which was 9,172,102 per month.

Because of the increase in income, the number of competent LGU personnel has grown, its offices are now computerized and personnel salaries have been standardized. As a result of all these and with the capability building sessions for personnel, the LGU has improved its customer services, business process application and financial management.

It has also fully utilized the 20 percent Development Fund to implement small projects while a portion is set aside as counterpart fund for bigger projects funded by national or international funding agencies.

Among the major projects implemented out of the 20 percent Development Fund in the previous years were: a) installation of 200 street lights; b) acquisition of seven dump trucks and compactors for the collection and disposal of garbage; c) enrollment of 5,000 indigents in PhilHealth; d) rehabilitation of the municipal building; e) rehabilitation of the Rural Health Unit building for improved medical assistance; f) Bongao public market building which also serves other island municipalities.

Economic activities have become vibrant with the increase in business establishments. In 2010, the first mini-mall in Tawi-Tawi, Midway Plaza Mall, was opened following the earlier opening of a medium-sized department. Grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, mobile phone shops, Internet cafes and banks with ATMs can be found in the downtown area. There are three banks in Bongao: Land Bank of the Philippines, Philippine National Bank and Allied Banking Corp. and numerous pawnshops and lending institutions can be found in the poblacion (town center).

In 2010 Bongao became the recipient of the First Galing Pook Award for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao for Administrative and Fiscal Reforms for Local Development. It was especially cited for effective monitoring of local tax collections, efficient management of resources, hiring of competent financial and LGU personnel, computerization of systems, standardization of personnel salaries, capacity enhancement programs for personnel for improved customer services, access to public information through Information Management System, procurement processes, involvement of civil society organizations, people’s organizations, national line and regional agencies in the preparation of the Bongao Comprehensive Development Plan, Executive-Legislative Agenda (ELA) and other LGU plans.

Bongao, classified as a fourth class town in 2000, became a second class municipality in 2010.

Doing the right thing the right way

Mayor Jasper Que, who was elected at the end of his father’s third term, has also prioritized health and education as a strategy that would lead to sustainable development. While continuing his father’s programs, the younger Que also emphasized the capability building of personnel and the strengthening of the Local School Board and Local Health Board.

Bongao values education and believes that sustainable growth is only possible if there is a strong backbone of professionals and human resources at its disposal.

In 1980, the literacy rate of Bongao was 60.3 percent and this increased to 78.1 percent in 1990. Literacy rate among males and females in 1980 was 60.5 percent and 60.2 percent respectively, which consequently rose to 80.2 percent and 76.0 percent in 1995. A total of 38 percent of children six years old and above had elementary education; 19 percent had reached secondary education and only 6.8 percent finished college. An alarming 20.8 percent of the population, or two out of 10, have not set foot in a classroom.

Ismi M. Sali, DepEd (Department of Education) ARMM supervisor of Bongao District 3, said that keeping children in school is difficult because parents simply pull them out when there is work to be done or if they need an extra pair of hands. Sali is in charge of the largest district in the municipality which is composed of 29 schools, 18 of which are primary schools.

This situation is highlighted in the Luuc Banca Elementary School in Barangay Pagasa, a Sama and Tausug community. The three-room school is located only a couple of meters away from the resettlement site where more than 100 Badjao families live. It has 253 pupils for school year 2012-2013 and Sali’s district is doing its best to keep the number of pupils steady as the school year draws to a close. He said that for school year 2011-2012, only 12 reached Grade 6 out of about 200 pupils who started Grade 1, yet this is an improvement from the figure in 2007-2008 with only four pupils finishing elementary grade.

The school sits at the coastline and is connected by wood planks to the Badjao relocation community which is but a stone’s throw away. During high tide, the waves lap its wooden fence but Sali said these do not reach the classrooms. With only three classrooms, multi level teaching is used which adds to the difficulty of pupils in learning their subjects. Add to this the practice of Badjao parents of pulling out their children from school, oftentimes without the knowledge of the teachers, if they need them for errands or work. In the national test, only 34.14 mean percentile of the pupils passed English, Math, Pilipino, Science and Makabayan.

This problem has been presented to the Local School Board and Luuc Banca Elementary School is one of the schools identified as priority for assistance by the municipality. The LGU has appropriated a budget for additional classrooms but construction is still on hold as the municipality still has to get a

deed of donation from the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) priests who own the land where the school is situated. The road leading to the school also needs to be repaired as it becomes impassable during the rainy season. Sali said that this is one of the reasons for the poor turnout of pupils at all grade levels.

One of the activities the Local School Board is doing to mitigate the dropouts is to enroll children in a feeding program. Sali said that most of the pupils would go to school if they know that there is food available for free. With the assistance of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and the USAID, the feeding program is aimed at sustaining the attendance of schoolchildren. And this strategy has worked very well, Sali said.

Since 2010, the LGU has expanded membership of the Local School Board to include non-government organizations, civic organizations and the religious sector. Teachers were trained how to effectively teach pupils and books were distributed to four pilot elementary schools of Bongao.

For further capability building, four district supervisors and principals enrolled at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in Makati City for the Mindanao Bridging Leadership Program. It was a valuable training, Sali said, because they were able to approach problems with a fresh perspective and new tools for analysis.

There are tutorial lessons in four pilot elementary schools that target non-readers. This is done every Saturday and the teachers for this program are trained especially to handle the class. To encourage pupils to come, a feeding program is also provided. In 2012, a tutorial lesson in English proficiency for 50 students of a public high school was cited by the Local School Board for its very successful program: The English Access Micro Scholarship Program funded by the US Embassy in partnership with the non-government organization Synergeia Foundation.

Administrator Abdulmapor said that the Local School Board is now looking at ways to improve the participation of pupils in schools and to encourage them to stay until they finish Grade School. She said there are three state colleges where students can go if they would like to pursue higher education: Mindanao State University–Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography, Tawi-Tawi State Agricultural College, the Mahardika Institute of Technology, and the Abubakar Learning Center Foundation College.

Allen Pasaforte, Secretary of the Mayor and a member of the Local School Board (LSB) said that there are four districts central, first, second and third covering the whole municipality. The LSB asked the supervisors to identify the low performing schools so that it can pilot a project which began on November 30, 2011. The LSB then launched a tutorial with a feeding program as a supplement. Every Saturday, the supervisors and principal monitor the reading skills of the pupils who were identified as being unable to read and comprehend. The teachers who are assigned to do tutorials are paid Php500 from the LSB funds.

She said that in the first year, they saw tremendous improvements in the reading aptitude of pupils and that these inspired them to continue with the project in 2012. They are now working on the schools considered as the second priority and hired 15 teachers as tutors. The teachers also join the LSB meetings to update the members on the status of the project and to share what they have observed so that this can be documented. Pasaforte said that one strategy to keep the students in school is to get the commitment of parents for their children to attend the session from 8-11 in the morning every Saturday.

She said that while there are success stories, there are still challenges in some of the school districts. In the Badjao communities, it is still difficult to keep the pupils from leaving the school. “Parents just pull them out from the classrooms, sometimes even without the knowledge of teachers,” Pasaporte said.

One has to also contend with different cultural values, Pasaforte said, and one drawback is that children don’t go to school if they feel that they can’t get anything in return – whether food or material things. This is the reason why the LSB has to run a feeding program or provide free snacks to encourage them to go to school. They are also provided with free school supplies and materials. To be able to reach the Badjaos, there has to be cultural sensitivity and acceptance of their difference, Pasaforte said.

Strengthening the local health board

Dr. Sangkulan Laja, head of the Rural Health Unit, said that there is still a need to strengthen the primary health program so that they can prevent the outbreak of diseases. Like many local government units in the ARMM, they lack doctors and medical personnel, he said, adding there probably are only five doctors in Bongao.

To reach out to far flung areas, Dr. Laja said he has a radio program that addresses the health issues facing people in remote communities but acknowledges that this is not enough. He said the mayor has been very receptive to health issues and has pushed for the organization of five-member Community Health Teams composed of midwives and community leaders for each group.

Maternal and infant mortality used to be very high in Bongao, Dr. Laja said. It was difficult for the RHU to ask mothers, especially from the Sama and Tausug tribes, to seek the help of professional health care workers during pregnancy and when they were due to give birth because of their cultural beliefs. To hurdle this challenge they trained traditional “hilots” (traditional healers) and had them registered with the Department of Health as barangay health workers. They were trained to provide assistance to midwives in birthing facilities. Having their “hilots” during birthing made it more acceptable for the women to go to the health centers or birthing clinics. Dr. Laja said, this has brought down the mortality from 13 to 15 per month to zero since June 2012.

In Barangay Pahut, there is a birthing clinic which serves mothers in five nearby barangays. Since June 2012 they have provided maternal check-ups in the two-room facility which is run by midwives, nurses and a doctor who is on call. There is also a traditional health worker who is accredited with the Department of Health to help in the delivery should a mother request for her. Their birthing room is modern and another room is reserved for the mother after she delivers her child. Free food is provided for the mother and her companion for the duration of her stay. Usually, the mother and child return home a day after delivery. The budget for the medical supplies and food is provided by the municipality.

To help in transporting patients from their homes to the clinic, a tricycle-ambulance was fabricated to comfortably ferry mothers who are about to give birth. Like the clinic, the vehicle is available 24 hours a day. This service is free of charge and the two midwives are paid by the local government.

The RHU is also conducting an intensive campaign on birthing and promotes exclusive breastfeeding especially among mothers in the islands. They have learned social mobilization since the Department of Health cannot provide adequate resources and manpower to provide for the health needs of the people.

Dr. Laja has served the municipality for seven years and he said that the campaign on health and sanitation is gaining ground but they need more resources for the program to really take off. He said that they need technical assistance such as capability building and more training for barangay health workers; salaries for midwives and other health workers; medicines for immunization of infants and TB. He said that under the previous mayor (Albert Que), malaria was controlled. Now, he sees a growing health problem relating to what he described as lifestyle diseases.

Footbridges and other stories

The municipality has prioritized construction of school buildings with the limited funding available. One of the projects it has completed since 2010 is the construction of a proper drainage system in the poblacion. The problem of overflowing water and flooding in some parts of Bongao during heavy rains has caused vehicular accidents and inconvenienced residents. The LGU built a drainage system that impounds water coming from the elevated portions of the island and opened a waterway to Aguada de Bay at Ridjiki Boulevard.

With the ARMM Social Fund, the LGU was able to construct footbridges in the barangays and construct a day care center in Pakias, a two-classroom school building and day care center in Luuk Pandan, a two-unit school building, and 65 units of plastic water tanks in Luuk Tulay.

With the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) the local government also was able to build a peace and development center and a small wet market in Tubig Tanah. A one-room school classroom and a barangay health station were constructed and the Bolobok National High School access road in Sanga Sanga was rehabilitated. In Sumangat, the project also assisted in the construction of a peace and development center, barangay health station and a concrete footbridge while in Lapid Lapid, the project provided farm machineries and the construction of a farm-to-market road and rock causeway.

Bongao has also received assistance from then Senator Miguel Zubiri in the construction of a one- classroom building in Luuk Pandan while Sen. Allan Peter Cayetano helped fund the construction of a barangay health station in Tubig Boh.

The construction of a birthing clinic in Pahut and Tongsinah was supported by the Zuellig Family Foundation while the LGU was able to refurbish the Office of Senior Citizens building in Pagasa with support from Vice-President Jejomar Binay.

The challenges of local governance

While on the one side things are looking rosy for Bongao and its people in the arena of governance reforms and better delivery of services, a new and bigger problem threatens to cast a shadow on these gains.

Despite intensive campaigns against human trafficking and the dramatic rescue of those who have been victimized by the pernicious phenomenon, citizens and leaders of Bongao acknowledge that there is a need to further strengthen current anti-trafficking mechanisms.

According to Rosabella Delfinado, head of the Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force in Bongao, it is increasingly difficult to stop trafficking in persons despite the fact that most of those who are victimized are minors who become slave laborers, prostitutes or organ donors.

Young men usually end up in Kolapasawit, Sabah to work in palm oil plantations 18 hours a day for a meager Php200. On Christmas day 2012, the Task Force rescued 16 young men who were working in deplorable conditions on a fishing vessel in Sabah. All of them came from the province of Bohol in the Visayas and were lured with the promise of a better job in Malaysia.

Young women and men who were intercepted by the Task Force since 2007 were mostly recruited through the Internet. They were offered jobs as restaurant or hotel crew but ended up in prostitution. The victims do not only come from Mindanao but also from as far as Tarlac, Quezon City, Rizal province, Baguio City, Pampanga, among others. Recruiters usually offer jobs in Malaysia, Jordan, Lebanon and Qatar telling them that going through Bongao is the easiest way to reach their destination.

Delfinado said that most of the victims arrive either at the Sanga Sanga airport in Bongao from Zamboanga City or at the ports through interisland boats that ply the waters between Zamboanga City, Jolo, Siasi and Bongao.

She said that this could just be the tip of the iceberg but they are hamstrung by meager resources to actually engage in a full blown operation against traffickers. Some of the funds allocated to the Task Force come from the municipality’s GAD fund and some supplies from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). At the same time the Task Force is also hampered by the lack of trained personnel not to mention threats to the safety and security of its members.

“Most of the victims are from other regions and we simply do not have enough funds to provide them with food, shelter and a way home,” she said, much less help them to file cases in court.

When the victims are rescued, the Task Force has to provide temporary shelter, food, medical assistance, psycho-social therapy, and transportation for the victims. Some also require security as they fear their employers will run after them.

Delfinado herself works as full time Municipal Assessor and her job as head of the Task Force is taking a toll on her performance. Recently she was out until dawn rescuing two minors who came from Sabah. One could not stop dancing and singing while the other one was huddled in a corner of an abandoned house, clutching her dress and wracked by sobs of despair. She said these girls could have been drugged. They were sent to the DSWD for psycho-social assistance and temporary shelter. The Task Force is still uncertain where these girls come from as they were not very lucid when they were interviewed.

She said the problem of human trafficking should be addressed not only by the local government of Bongao but also by the province of Tawi Tawi and the ARMM regional government. She said that to stop trafficking, massive education should be done through various media platforms, especially social media which makes it easy for recruiters to lure vulnerable Filipinos. The notion that it is easy to cross the border to Malaysia and other countries through a backdoor like Tawi Tawi should be debunked, she added.

Like trafficking in persons, Bongao is also facing the challenge of illegal drugs. With its proximity to other Asian countries, the local government is aware that the municipality could be an entry point for illegal substances and needs to mount an intensive campaign to counter the problem. But here’s the rub, the lack of resources including manpower has the LGU in a quandary. Yet given its ability to mount reform initiatives within the bureaucracy it may not be too farfetched to think that the war on drugs and human trafficking will be on track sooner than expected.

SUSTAINABILITY

Breaking tradition

It takes political will to break a tradition of patriarchy and apathy. It took a businessman as leader to break old concepts that communities are nothing but a ruler’s vassal slaves bereft of self-determination and that those born poor are forever destined to be so.

Annie Abdulmapor, who was appointed Municipal Treasurer during the time of former Mayor Albert Que in 2000, said it took a steely resolve to make fiscal reforms possible. Those early years when government officials acted as though government funds were at their own personal disposal were traumatic even for a strong and determined crusader like Abdulmapor.

She said that transparent governance and engaging people in making decisions and planning their own development provide them a sense of ownership thus encouraging their participation. She cited the Local School Board as one of LGU’s reform successes with the principals, teachers, local government, and just recently, parents, coming together to ensure that schoolchildren will have the best education that is at par with, if not better than, others in the country.

Sooner or later Bongao will no longer be a backwater town but an economic hub in the southern part of the country given the changing economic and political constructs in Southeast Asia that are seen happening in 2015.

Abdulmapor said they are optimistic that with the kind of leadership they have the reforms will be steady and the gains sustainable. That optimism is well founded given the fact that Mayor Jasper Que has demonstrated a commitment to reforms not only by continuing the programs initiated by his father but in expanding the arena for more meaningful citizen participation through local special bodies and informal engagements with civil society.

 

 

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