2002 Winner
Goa, Camarines Sur, The Philippines
The Galing Pook Awards in The Philippines
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The Galing Pook Awards in The Philippines

The local government of Goa, Camarines Sur had almost been rendered incapable of delivering basic public services to its constituents due to a budget deficit of P2.8 million, and an even higher debt of P4.5 million. A closer look at books and bank records revealed that the numbers do not tally. There appeared to be little or no accounting controls being implemented. Worse, the sensitive post of municipal accountant was not even given to a real accountant. Without the funds, even the salaries of government workers could not be paid on time. The delay of one to three months was not uncommon, resulting into a demoralized workforce. Government employees went on frequent breaks, and were often arrogant and tactless in their dealings with the public. Corruption was rampant and taxpayers relied heavily on political connections to collect refunds or avoid payment. To top it all off, the municipal hall seemed to reflect the government’s state of affairs with its old and dilapidated structure.

Such was the situation the municipality of Goa was in when Marcel Pan assumed the post of mayor in 1998. It was a daunting task but Mayor Pan resolved to eliminate corruption in Goa, and deliver basic public services once again to his constituents. He knew he would make enemies along the way but it was a gamble that he took, which he believed was for the good of the entire community.

The first order of business was to trim down the workforce. From 131 employees, it was reduced to 96, with the Office of the Mayor having the leanest staff of all. The axe fell heaviest on the politically sensitive Municipal Treasury Office, where the number of employees was trimmed to 9 from 27. Even the municipal treasurer’s head was not spared, and was relieved from service upon the recommendation of the Commission on Audit.

The general workforce underwent training and employees were given incentives to obtain college degrees. Some were given scholarships and grants. As a result, the attitude of municipal employees went from lazy and unprofessional to client- and output-oriented. Not only were salaries paid on time, government workers were also provided with computers, nice offices, and uniforms.

Responding to accusations that the reorganization was politically motivated, the municipal government created a Personnel Evaluation Board, a Placement Committee, Personnel and Selection Board, and a Grievance Committee to address all issues related to the reform. Department heads and rank-and-file employees were both sufficiently represented in these boards.

A year after the reorganization, the municipal government posted a huge turnaround in its finances. Total income rose 46% in 1999. Savings from the retrenchment alone amounted to almost P1 million. The deficit of P2.8 million in 1998 gave way to a surplus of P2.8 million in 1999. As a result, major priority development projects on infrastructure, education, agriculture, computerization and capability programs for municipal employees were implemented.