COMMENTARY: The piece

march 10-16, 2011

Addresses on the states of the municipality, of the city, and of the province are being rendered nowadays in compliance to a provision of the Local Government Code.

Asuncion Mayor Joseph Nilo Parrenas was almost on the verge of saying that for his part the rendering of State of the Municipality Address should be abolished. Minutes before he rendered his SOMA last Thursday and before a group of mediamen the mayor said that if he had his way he better not render a SOMA, but he was quick to add that his municipal sanggunian did not want him to forego his SOMA. And therefore he had to report before various stakeholders.

The media missed asking Parrenas for his explanation. Or maybe he just wished it and was coy in telling about his good preparation to deliver his SOMA as we learned later that he earned not one but many applauses from his audience. He had it so good and well. And after his rendition came the usual handshaking and congratulations and salo-salo.

His first thought of not wanting to render a SOMA was maybe just wishful thinking. But he’s not alone as we heard about similar gripes from a few chief executives over the ritual being just a thing for compliance to the provision of the LGU’s bible. The code though offers a caveat that SOMA and the like can be dispensed with.

But the executive addresses on the state of governance should be a must as these cite and highlight accomplishments and lay the directions, thrusts and identify challenges of the municipal, city or provincial administrations.

SOMA, SOCA or SOPA is one important document that collates and sums up what has been done to the taxes paid by the people to the government. Or it collates and sums up what the has been done by the government officials and workingmen for the good of the people. But it is not only a summation document. It is a process. Like the yearly budgetting process which starts with a budget call, the making of the SOMA, SOCA or SOPA generates actions from sections, divisions and departments to make, consolidate and submit accomplishments from the ranks to where the bucks stop, the office of the governor or of the mayor. It is laborious to the one assigned to consolidate as it is more laborious to the one assigned by the mayor or governor to draft the entire piece and submit for his review, addition and deletion of items- and approval.

Fortunately, however, the piece most often comes up from the previous years’ SOMA/SOCA/SOPA templates and most often, address writers only plug in new statistics for recurring accomplishments of the LGU that keeps on running regardless of changes and differences of administration, and embellish only the piece with a best introduction and closing statements apt to the leadership, principles, thrusts, slogans and character of the one who stands before a motley crowd of stakeholders, the one who delivers and reports that the government unit he is leading is right well on a good track and trailblazing to give the best for the most number of his constituents.

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