Communication is important.
This is a lesson that officials of the City of Dumaguete may have learned the hard way when it faced a public outcry for its failure to inform the public about the sudden implementation of a mere P20 tax on bicycles, among other things.
The backlash had netizens going as far as reminding the people who not to vote for in the next election.
Twenty pesos may not be much these days, given that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has even issued a coin for it. But the kerfuffle has everything to do with the manner of its implementation.
The well-intentioned City Treasurer’s Office must have thought that because this was a 1997 Ordinance, the public information drive done way back then must have been enough to comply with that requirement. Sadly, it wasn’t.
The setback also forced Mayor Ipe Remollo to backpedal on the implementation of the Tax Ordinance.
Admitting that the public may have forgotten about this law because of its inconsistent implementation, the Mayor also scored good points when he recommended for a review of the Tax Ordinance to conform to safety and practical considerations.
On the back side, however, the Mayor couldn’t resist attacking the media for failing to keep the public reminded about this 25-year-old law. He said the local media failed to inform the public about old laws that have not been implemented, and had been too busy instead focusing on the controversies at the City Council.
Knowing the Mayor’s style, he was perhaps saying these tongue-in-cheek, but it may also reveal a flaw in how seriously the City government takes its responsibility in informing the public adequately, and in a timely manner.
The Dumaguete City Information Office can, of course, do its job in keeping the public informed through the various media.
But it is not the media’s role to take over the tasks of the City Information Office as mouthpiece of the Mayor.
Those are two different things.