The manner by which the City Council belabored the passing of a resolution “adopting” a senator closely allied with President Rodrigo Duterte speaks volumes about the influence of partisan politics on developmental policy-making in the city government.

The fact that there was hardly a debate in the chamber and that the body voted unanimously on the resolution was in stark contrast to the random sentiments of city residents online, with an overwhelming sentiment of those opposed to the idea.

For the Council to be of one mind about such a controversial issue and most, if not nearly all, their constituents standing squarely on the opposite end of the debate tells you there is a breakdown in communication somewhere.

Or none at all.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan is wired in pretty much the same way as the City Council. Last week, it weighed heavily on an ordinary town mayor, whose DIY style of governance wittingly or unwittingly projected him as a contrarian.

The decision of the SP to preventively suspend Narra Mayor Gerandy Danao was evidently a belabored political decision. There was no open deliberation in the chamber on what was a sharply defined legal question. Instead, there was a fait accompli beneath the closed doors of the chamber. To be sure there was to be no mixed messaging, only the presiding officer was to speak out and explain the unanimous vote.

This is not to say that party voting per se is a bad thing, particularly when the decision that needs to be made is clearly important in improving the lives of the constituency. Progressive governance becomes a difficult challenge when the essence of participatory decision-making is completely overwhelmed by partisan or even personal considerations.

These realities are not at all new, imperfect as our system has always been. In the context however of the current pandemic and the demand for progressive governance, this is clearly one which Palawan doesn’t deserve.


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