Management by stupidity (Part I)


In case you haven’t noticed yet, Iloilo City has been drifting aimlessly for quite some time now, unable to gain momentum in the march toward rapid progress despite loud battlecries of “My City, My Pride”. Despite its huge potential, Iloilo City has been relegated to eating the dust of other major cities in the country. Its growth is barely above stagnant.

Cebu is so far away it would seem we are living in the jungle. Bacolod, hampered as it is by a one-crop economy, is steadily pulling away. There are indications small towns like Kalibo might even overtake us. Even the component city of Passi is quietly taking giant strides and surpass Iloilo City in terms of government infrastructure.

What ails the city of Iloilo? Why, in spite of its many great sons and daughters (we just have to mention Senators Franklin Drilon and Miriam Defensor Santiago to drive home the point), isn’t it pulsing with the steady beat of a dynamic city and race to take its place as one of the key economic centers of the country? Why is rapid growth so elusive?

It’s not that we lack resources. Senator Drilon has been pouring huge sums of his pork barrel to implement major projects in the city: bridges, port terminal, slaughter house, and just recently, a system of roads and river parks to decongest our worsening traffic. We’ve seen huge investments by Mega World and Mang Inasal founder Edgar “Injap” Sia. Ayala Land Corp. has completed its techno-hub in Mandurriao.

Something is obviously missing.

Right, something big is missing. It’s called leadership.

For the last ten years now, Iloilo City was hobbled down by a failure of leadership. And rampant graft and corruption that has persisted in City Hall has nailed it to an almost inert mode like a heavy and rusty anchor in a calm sea. Our leaders have consistently been high on promises but terribly short on delivery. Worse, we are now seeing what I would describe as “management by stupidity”.

That the city government has been mired in massive corruption is bad enough. But I am more worried about the lack of direction, and bad leadership, that is being displayed by City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog. The guy is a nightmare. He doesn’t know a thing about management and leadership. In decision-making, I rate him a “failure”. All he has really done is put up billboards all over the city with his picture pasted on them, and the slogan “My City, my pride” written on top of it.

Mabilog has also demonstrated no political will. He reneges on his promises. And as if these weren’t enough, Mabilog likes to keep official transactions in deep secrecy. Against this backdrop, he declares that he wants an “open, transparent” City Hall where citizens know exactly what is happening in the local government.

Leadership is a relationship based on trust between the leader and the led. Trust is founded on a leader keeping his word. A leader who breaks a promise so often is certain to lose that trust. He ceases to be leader once that happens. And it is a stupid leader who deliberately allows that to happen. The stupidity is aggravated when that stupid leader refuses to admit he breaks promises routinely. More stupid is the act of that leader to say things that are illogical and untruthful.

This is what we are seeing at the City Hall under Mabilog.

We’ve seen an individual obsessed with power, who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. The construction of the Iloilo City Hall project is a classic example. When he assumed office, Mabilog was surprised to learn that the P368 million contract awarded to F.F. Cruz and Co./Freyssinet Filipinas Inc. joint venture wasn’t going to finish the project. Everybody believed we were going to get a brand-new City Hall with that amount. That was the intention in the first place. And that was what was advertised in the “Invitation to Bid” made by the city government under his predecessor, Jerry P. Trenas.

Instead of complaining that Iloilo City was being short-changed in the deal, Mabilog saw an opportunity to grab a spade and scoop out huge chunks of public funds, too. He pretended not to have noticed the irregularity in the first contract and proceeded to design his own scheme to bury the city in debt, and corruption. This was the “upgraded” designs he ordered for the completion of the project, bringing the cost from the original P455 million estimate to a whooping P710 million.

With just the word “upgraded”, Mabilog thought he had the perfect formula for a money-making enterprise.

Stupid.

It’s stupid because the people could readily see through the corrupt scheme. It’s stupid because Mabilog believed he could fool the people. It’s stupid because he believed he was too brilliant to be exposed. (To be continued)

 

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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