Efficiency and the General Welfare of the City

DUMAGUETE CITY – In many occasions, Mayor Ipe Remollo reminded city officials, officers, and workers that his political position is transient and that he does not seek their loyalties to him.  

Instead, he counsels everyone to be loyal to the general welfare of the city. 

I appreciate such leadership quality because while it undermines the bane of our traditional patronage politics, it also enhances the efficiency of achieving his planning goals for the city.  

I shared to him my observation that unconsciously his political sense and sensibility even in the midst of unexamined criticism and opposition by alarmists exemplifies the basic economic principles of resource allocation founded on Pareto efficiency and Kaldor-Hicks efficiency.

That is, without realizing Pareto’s efficiency principle, the good mayor recognizes that it is extremely difficult to make any change without exacting a negative effect at least on one person. And like Pareto, he is so convinced that an optimal can be found where at least one party benefits and nobody is made worse off.  

And so, the trick is to find the Kaldor-Hicks efficiency option where the net gain produces more benefits than costs for the city.  Theoretically, it will also enable the city to compensate potential losers from the net gain.

For me, this is an important reason why, one can’t simply criticize or oppose based on motherhood and blanket statements of environmental alarms without taking into consideration the specific issue the Mayor is dealing with or the specific alternative intended to ameliorate the problem at hand.

That’s why one must be guided by facts and evidence.  

Consider this.  

The Silliman University administration building ground adjacent to Rizal Boulevard used to be flooded during the so-called “ber” months (September-December) when seawater is dumped by surging waves hammering the seawall.  Until the LGU under the leadership of former Mayor Chiquiting Sagarbarria reclaimed, rip-rapped, and heightened the seawall.  

Now, the university is protected from the surging waves. 

Did the university or environmentalists huffed and puffed about its imagined environmental impacts?  

Did the university or environmentalists ever say “thank you” to the LGU?

You see, the many good efforts of the LGUs are seldom recognized, acknowledged, or appreciated.  Critics would rather condemn than say the magic word. 

Why is that?   

For one, it is not part of our value system to verbalize gratefulness. 

But a deeper reason is the alarmist’s latent function of covetousness—that vehement desire to possess something.  Sometimes with a bit of encouragement from political players, it manifests itself into multiple configurations. 

For example, it is turned political by hopeless aspirants who covet elected positions or financial by “fly by nights” seeking funding for their invented advocacies or psychological by attention-grabbers who seek an outlet for their demanding hubris.

And yet the alarmists must realize that the LGU not DENR or PRA has the final say over matters related to allocation of resources—that is, conceptualization, funding, and implementation of LGU’s planning projects.  

Needless to say, that the mayor’s plans and projects are legally compliant and supported by the City Council and all 30 Barangays and their respective Barangay Captains—all for the general welfare of the city.

As the mayor’s long time pro bono or “puro abono” urban planning consultant, let me give you a heads up.  He plans to integrate open space, underground utilities, and wastewater treatment facility in the reclaimed area to make the boulevard sanitary and swimmable again.

I must say, that’s Pareto efficiency and Kaldor-Hicks efficiency in action.   

And so, for those who still want to oppose the Mayor’s efforts, I dare them to present to him their own specific and hopefully measurable arguments in person or group. Then, give him the opportunity to rebut every argument. 

Otherwise, you shut up or pack up.

READ: Two laws empower LGUs to reclaim

About the author:

Efren Padilla
Efren N. Padilla is a professor and director of Urban Studies Program at California State University at East Bay. He is also an urban and regional planning consultant. Send feedback to: efren.padilla@csueastbay.edu