Roxas, Robredo aim for inclusive growth through grassroots governance

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Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel Roxas II and running mate Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Each of the more than 1,400 towns in the Philippines will get from the national government a funding of every year for use in projects that would help it modernize itself.

The amount would depend on the population of the town, computed at P1,000 per individual.

That's part of the plan that former Interior Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas would implement should he make it to Malacañan in 2016.

And each town would get the money — tagged as Walang Iwanan Fund — regardless of the party affiliation of its officials.

"Hindi kailangan humalik sa singsing ng kahit sino," Roxas said in Town Hall, a CNN Philippines' program where he and running mate Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo were the guests on Thursday (December 10).

[Translation: "And nobody has to kiss anyone's ring."]

The show, which was anchored by Pia Hontiveros, took place at the Mini Auditorium of the Far Eastern University in Manila with some students, teachers, and school officials making up the audience.

It was livestreamed on the CNN Philippines Facebook page and taped as live for airing on television on Saturday (December 12).

Roxas explained the "Walang Iwanan Fund" in reply to a question asked by Hontiveros on how his administration would achieve "inclusive growth," which seemed to be a popular issue among all the candidates.

Inclusive growth through grassroots governance

Earlier in the show, a student asked both candidates what innovations they would introduce to improve grassroots governance.

Both candidates referred to the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, whom they said already started implementing grassroots governance when he was still mayor of Naga.

There was nothing novel about this approach, they said.

Roxas said they would just give local officials incentives so that they would tackle peace and order, health care, environmental issues, and people at the fringes of society.

In effect, the administration would just give them a checklist.

"Nang sa ganoon to-do list na lang sa kanila," Roxas said. "Hindi mag-iisip pa sila ng kung anu-ano pang mga programa. Nandiyan na yan at ipapatupad na lang nila."

[Translation: "In this way, we're giving them a to-do list. They would not have think of programs. They're already set and all they have to do is execute them."]

Robredo said the thrust of their administration would be to empower people. In fact, she pointed out, she had already filed a People Empowerment Bill at the House of Representatives.

Citing her husband's experience in Naga, she said he changed the mindset of the people, from being "just beneficiaries of government" to partners with a stake in the development of their city.

The people changed from being "a very critical constituency" to "a very collaborative" one.

"They became stakeholders in the successes and failures of government," she said.

Another student asked what their style of decision-making style would be.

Both said they would encourage participation the concerned people so that they could get "the best inputs."

"But at the end of the day, someone has to make a decision," Roxas said. "And I'm ready to do that."

He added, however, that the easiest decisions would have to be made the lowest level and need not reach the top.

Same values, different problems

A Facebook user asked through the Digital team, consisting of Paolo Taruc and Paulo del Rosario, how his administration would be different that of President Benigno Aquino III, considering that Roxas had vowed to continue with Tuwid na Daan, or the Straigth Path, principle.

Roxas said the values are the same, but the problems would be different.

"Yung Tuwid na Daan [is] a set of values — tapat, mahusay, epektibo, malinis. Hindi naman nagbabago yan eh. These are the same values na dadalhin natin sa ating pamamahala. The problems will be different."

[Translation: "Tuwid na Daan is a set of values — sincere, competent, effective, clean. Those will not change. These are the same values that we will carry over in our governance. The problems will be different."]

Aquino started his term when the Philippines was really down, Roxas said.

The president first had to fix various institutions to remove high-level corruption.

Now, he said, corruption had become limited to the lower ranks of government.

In 2016, he said among the problems the government would have to tackle was ensuring inclusive growth and speeding up infrastructure development.