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‘Yolanda’ offers tip on electing right leaders

10:02 PM December 02, 2013

The recent tragedy brought about by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in Tacloban City once again underscores the importance of electing effective and ethical local government officials. Our country’s Local Government Code vests our local officials, particularly  city or municipal mayors, with much authority, power and responsibility. During such calamities, local government units are tasked to immediately respond to the needs of their constituents.

In the past, we saw that when local officials were not prepared and clearly not on top of things, terrible things happened—just like during Tropical Storm “Sendong” when hundreds of people died in Cagayan de Oro City in December 2011.

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It is in times of disasters when our country sorely misses local officials of the likes of the late Jesse Robredo who served as mayor of Naga City for a total of 18 years. In the years he was mayor, several supertyphoons struck Naga City, but never did we see a situation where the city and the local

government units were caught unprepared. In fact, the people of Naga City always recall that Mayor Robredo himself would be the first one to go out and clear up the debris on the streets left by the typhoons.

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When we elect good leaders, we can sleep soundly at night knowing that they will always look after our safety and welfare.

The contrasting ways local leaders responded to calamities and their impact once again stressed the importance of taking our local elections more seriously, and of pushing for electoral reforms with the end-view of ensuring that we elect the right kind of leaders who can and will provide genuine public service to the people—because as we saw in Yolanda and Sendong, corruption and bad governance can literally kill thousands of innocent lives.

—HARVEY S. KEH, lead convenor, Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership, [email protected]

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