Some people in Legazpi City are walking on a tight rope because of the axe hanging over the head of Geraldine Rosal, the elected mayor of Legazpi City. According to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), she is disqualified for violating the election rules for allegedly engaging on vote buying. But before the second placer, Alfredo Garbin, took his oath of office, the Supreme Court issued a status quo ante order. That means Rosal will sit as the mayor until everything is settled.
Geraldine’s husband, Noel, was earlier disqualified for Albay Governor because of the same case. Unfortunately, Noel was not as lucky as Geraldine because the former was a sitting mayor when he allegedly violated Section 68(a) of the Omnibus Election Code and “gave money to influence, induce or corrupt the voters”.
The cases of Geraldine and Noel are not isolated cases. In fact, almost all local government officials are guilty of the same with some doing the act in benign manner. Or, some officials do not have aggressive opposition who are willing to move heaven and earth and seek the disqualification of the sitting and suspected incumbent guilty of Section 68(a).
To eradicate, if not minimize cases like the Rosals, the Congress could pass a law requiring reelectionists, starting with the local chief executives, to automatically resign from their public posts at the start of the campaign season. The local government will then be manned by the local government administrators who should be hired as career officials and not as employees who are co-terminus with their hiring authorities.
It should be stressed that local government administration plays a crucial role in the daily lives of citizens. Hence, the efficient and effective management of local government is essential to maintain the smooth functioning of the community. This can be done by provincial, city or municipal administrator especially during the election campaign season.
Because of their roles, provincial, city or municipal administrator should therefore be career-based administrators and hired through a competitive selection process that emphasizes experience and qualifications. This means that they should have more experience and understanding of the issues that affect the community and have taken the time to study the community. They should must have earned degrees, certificates, and other professional development courses that equip them for the job, unlike co-terminus appointees.
With careers as their long-term goals, career-based local administrators will be motivated to learn continuously and improve their skills to serve the community better. Co-terminus appointees, on the other hand, may not have the necessary skills or experience to effectively manage local government affairs. Their only qualification — the trust and confidence of their appointing officials — in this case, the local chief executives.
Continuity and consistency are key to local government administration. The local government provides a lot of essential services and policies that are indispensable to the community, and any mismanagement can significantly impact the community. Career-based administrators provide stability and continuity in the administration of the local government especially during election seasons. As career officials, they may not have to worry about changing political tides because their jobs are not tied to the election cycle or the whims of any particular leader. This eliminates the potential for frequent changes in management, creating stability and consistency in the administration of local government. The community enjoys an ongoing relationship with career officials who can maintain continuity throughout successive local government officials.
Another significant advantage in hiring career officials as city/municipal administrators is that such individuals can run the local government with minimal interference from elected officials. Co-terminus appointees are closely tied to the officials that have appointed them, and thus, they may find themselves forced to make decisions that serve the interest of the appointing official more than the community. This reduces the effectiveness and efficiency of the local government administration. Career-based administrators, on the other hand, understand the issues that affect the community and are equipped to make informed decisions that benefit the community as a whole since their continuity and reliability do not depend on politics.
Elections provide the people a platform to use their voice and select their leaders. To be able to choose effectively, there should be no interference particularly in the form of inducements in cash or in kind that could influence, induce or corrupt the voters. But, it doesn’t mean that the local government services should stop. This could be done by the career-based provincial, city or municipal administrators.