Region 12 leaders push for good governance

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 18 Sept) – Local government leaders in Region 12 have renewed their commitment to promote a culture of good governance and pursue the principles of transparent and participatory leadership in all levels of governance in the area.

The region’s provincial governors, city and municipal mayors gave such commitment on Wednesday during the Region 12 Summit on Good Governance held at The Farm Resort Convention Center in Koronadal City.

The summit, which was organized by the Regional Development Council (RDC), was attended by officials and representatives of the region’s 54 local government units.

Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

In a declaration passed at the conclusion of the summit, the area’s local officials expressed support to the country’s membership to the Open Government Partnership and its commitment to the principles of the of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations Convention against Corruption and other international instruments related to human rights and good governance.

They acknowledged that people in the region have been demanding more openness in governance, wants greater participation in public ways and advocates moves that would make their governments more transparent, responsive, accountable and effective.

The group recognizes that local government units in the area are currently at different stages in their efforts to promote openness in government and that each pursues approaches consistent with national priorities as well as the aspirations of their constituents.

“We accept responsibility to strengthen our commitments to promote transparency, fight corruption, empower citizens and harness the power of new technologies to make (our) governments more effective and accountable,” they stressed.

They vowed to uphold the value of openness in their engagements with their constituents in terms of service delivery, management of public resources, promotion of innovative practices and in the creation of safer communities.

“We embrace the principles of transparency and open government with a view towards achieving greater prosperity, well-being and human dignity in our localities and in an increasingly interconnected world,” the group said.

In specific terms, the officials committed to increase the availability of information about their socio-economic, political and administrative activities; support civic participation in decision-making; and implement the highest standards of professional integrity throughout their administrations.

“We commit to espouse these principles in our engagement and work to foster a global culture of open government that empowers and delivers for the people as well as advances the ideals of open and participatory government,” they added.

Among the officials who personally signed the declaration were South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes; Koronadal City Mayor Peter Miguel; Tacurong City Mayor Lina Montilla; Tupi, South Cotabato Mayor Reynaldo Tamayo; Polomolok, South Cotabato Mayor Honey Lumayag-Matti; Aleosan, North Cotabato Mayor Vicente Sorupia Jr.; and Isulan, Sultan Kudarat Mayor Diosdado Pallasigue.

In a press conference, Fuentes said the passage of the declaration showed that the region’s local government leaders are “really committed” to achieve good governance.

She considers the declaration as a big challenge for them to perform better and adopt the necessary reforms in governance.

“I believe most of us in government have the desire to set improvements and change how things are done in response to the growing and dynamic demands of the people for transparent and accountable governance,” she said.

Arturo Valero, RDC-12 acting chairperson, said the unanimous adoption of the declaration shows that the region’s local government officials are united in terms of the promotion and pursuit of good governance in the area.

He said the declaration complements with the council’s aspirations to make Region 12 as a model for good governance.

“Hopefully it will eventually help transform Region 12 as one of the leading regions in the country in terms of good governance,” he said.

Valero, who is also the regional director of the National Economic and Development Authority, said the RDC-12 will later use the declaration as a gauge in the evaluation as to “whether we are making a dent in terms of good governance in the region.”

“If it turns out that we are failing and there are areas that need to be strengthened, we will then come up with new strategies or activities for them,” he added.