Makati ‘sisterhood pacts’ more frivolous than generous?
This is a reaction to the news story titled “Binay camp defends 670 sister city pacts” (News, 7/9/15).
It is a quite shocking revelation that by entering into “sisterhood pacts” (with 670 local government units so far), Makati, the premier financial center, has “conquered” nearly 50 percent of the archipelago’s 1,490 municipalities (source: National Statistical Coordination Board; LGU Facts and Figures, 3/31/14). The percentage undeniably could skyrocket if the criterion for choosing the “would-be sisters” were their status as “4th- and 5th-class municipalities,” as alleged. Have those municipalities so stagnated, making no progress at all, so as to deserve “used” or second-hand donations like books?
The Binay camp’s spokesperson, Joey Salgado, has dutifully invoked a section of the Local Government Code of 1991 to justify the sisterhood agreements. But complementing the sisterhood pacts with the use of the Makati Friendship Suites adds credence to allegations that the “generosity” is in fact in “aid” of someone’s or some family’s political ambitions. And we are not even certain if the use of the facility was confined only to officials and residents of Makati’s sister LGUs.
The number of Makati’s sister LGUs dwarfs by ten times the 69 sister LGUs of Manila, Quezon City and Davao City combined. And yet these cities, with a combined annual revenue of P26.2 billion (source: latest Commission on Audit reports), or five times Makati’s P11.1 billion (Manila, P10.1 billion; Quezon City, P11.5 billion; Davao City, P5.6 billion), can afford to support a lot more sister LGUs than they already now have. Are Mayors Erap Estrada, Bistek Bautista and Digo Duterte so insensitive to the plight of “poor municipalities” that they resist embarking on a sisterhood pact-signing spree like Makati has done?
Makati’s policy of accepting all applications for an LGU sisterhood pact is not only counterproductive; it in fact spreads the benefits too thinly, and with nearly 700 sisterhood agreements, most likely, they have become frivolous. Shouldn’t Makati focus its civic solicitousness on Makati residents instead and limit the number of its sister LGUs to a reasonable level (like Manila has done), and choose only the poorest of the poor municipalities—and make the use of the Makati Friendship Suites exclusive to Makati residents?
—MANUEL Q. BONDAD, Barangay Palanan, Makati City