Both the new provincial and city government administrations are essentially of the same lineup from the previous administrations that now comprise the main cast of officials who are taking over the reigns of these local government units.
Governor Victorino Dennis M. Socrates was in the inner core of the 3-term Alvarez administration and has vowed during his inaugural to maintain the same vision they had pursued before.
Mayor Lucilo Bayron is continuing into his 4th term in the same office, having skirted the 3-term limitation imposed by law due to an interruption in his previous term. He has rebranded his administration from “apurado” to “mega apurado” if only to underscore a commitment to work harder and faster than he previously did.
Both are facing a challenge tougher than they have ever dealt with, which is getting the local economy back on its feet in a most difficult post-pandemic environment, given that measures still need to be in place in order to ensure that the COVID-19 situation does not regress into a new crisis.
Understandably, both administrations need to establish a constructive relationship with the new central government, if only to ensure they get the support they need for their local projects and initiatives. Local officials align with whatever is the ruling party; this has been a common practice all over, a particular characteristic of the country’s political party system. It will thus be less of a surprise if Palawan’s local officials join the bee-line to President Bongbong Marcos’ emergent coalition party.
It is important, however, to take note of the notion that the resurgence of an economy is not totally dependent on how a local government performs—that it is primarily responsive to factors of supply and demand. In the tourism sector, for instance, Palawan will remain a favored destination as seen in the natural resurgence of inbound traffic we currently see in places like El Nido, San Vicente, and Puerto Princesa.
Tourism, in the case of Palawan, is also strongly driven by private sector initiatives. They are the ones that have the resources needed to optimize Palawan’s natural attractions and draw visitors through their investments. The government’s key role has been to provide the policy climate to make it happen.
At this early stage for all incoming local government administrations, it may well serve to reiterate to our policymakers that the key to economic recovery is to allow independent factors that positively impact the economy to flourish. In more direct terms, everything is not and will never be completely dependent on the government.
Embracing this truth is a good start to effectively address the main challenges facing the government – that of getting the economy back on track.