Edward Hagedorn: Gangster type now nature’s champ



HAGEDORN He turned Palawan into an ecotourism haven, its capital into the “City of God in a Forest.” INQUIRER PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Now that he is a reformed environmental champion, Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn has no qualms about admitting during campaign rallies that he used to destroy Palawan’s forests.

“We were the first loggers, the first mining claimant (in Palawan). We used to shoot down birds for no reason. We cut down trees regardless of their kind. I was a bandit before,” he said.

According to his 1996 biopic, which starred the late action star Fernando Poe Jr., before he became city mayor, Hagedorn and his brothers led a “gangster” lifestyle.

Hagedorn admits he had no plans of giving up his lucrative businesses, including illegal gambling, when he was asked to run for mayor in 1992.

When the then Palawan Bishop, who is now Pasig Bishop Emeritus Francisco San Diego, and former seminary rector Msgr. Jose Delfin asked him to sign a covenant to stop jueteng, Hagedorn recalled he merely obliged to get their support.

“I was planning to trick them. But my conscience hit me and I couldn’t do it,” he said.

Twenty-one years later, no one is more surprised than the 66-year-old Puerto Princesa mayor by the city’s and his own personal turnaround.


A changed life

“I’m very happy with how his life has turned out. He was a bad guy before. But his life has changed,” said Parañaque barangay councilor Cesar de Leon.

De Leon was interviewed at a recent campaign rally in Parañaque organized by Hagedorn’s childhood friends from his Tambo hometown where he was born in 1946.

While not one to wear religion on his sleeve, Hagedorn is unequivocal in attributing to Divine Providence Puerto Princesa’s successful turnaround from an unknown, backward city to an urbanized ecotourism showcase in such a short time.

He recalled that when he delivered his inaugural speech after his landslide win as Puerto Princesa’s first non-Palaweño mayor, he found himself rambling not knowing what he was saying.

“When I reviewed the tape, I saw that I had promised to stop all illegal activities in Puerto Princesa. Many were dismayed. I said out of gratitude I will protect the natural resources,” he said.

“That was the turning point of my life. So I think it was the Lord who put the words in my mouth,” he said.

He gave up logging and jueteng and went after the “untouchables” engaged in environmentally destructive activities.

Major attack of conscience

“I stopped when I became mayor. I just fell in love. I realized nature is very, very beautiful. I had a major attack of conscience,” he said.

Hagedorn went on to win two reelections for a nine-year term during which he earned for himself and Puerto Princesa a string of national and international awards for best practices on several fronts, including environmental protection, education and local governance.

By 1996, Puerto Princesa had become a Hall of Fame awardee as the country’s cleanest and greenest city.

At the end of three consecutive terms in June 2001, Hagedorn was able to sit again as mayor for a year because of a Sept. 24, 2002 recall initiative by barangay leaders against his successor.

To Hagedorn’s surprise, the Supreme Court, in a landmark decision on November 2002, ruled that he could serve  the unexpired term of the ousted mayor. Hagedorn went on to win three more terms.

Puerto Princesa formula

As his second three-term mayoralty ends in June 2013, Hagedorn is seeking to win national elective office for the first time, a last-minute decision, he said.

“I’m the only local official running for the Senate,” he points out with pride.

He said more than any of the present crop of senatorial candidates, he understands best the needs and problems of the community.

“A senator can’t do anything to make your life better except to make laws. But if the laws are not implemented by the local officials, that amounts to nothing. So no senator can claim they made lives better. But when they campaign you would think they will be the ones to do it,” Hagedorn told the leaders from all of Iloilo City’s 180 barangays who came to his campaign rally.

He shared Puerto Princesa’s “formula” for success in uplifting the lives of its residents while safeguarding the environment—discipline, peace and order, cleanliness, and people’s participation.

He said the success of any government-led project ultimately lies in the people’s cooperation.

“The people know if you’re just fooling them,” he said.

His vision: ecotourism

Dr. Pedro Francisco, the city’s chief veterinarian, recalls Hagedorn’s early efforts to literally clean up Puerto Princesa City through Oplan Linis.

Francisco recalled how when he was first assigned to the city in 1990, his classmates did not know where Puerto Princesa was.

“When they heard of Palawan, they thought of malaria and leprosy,” he said.

According to Francisco, back in 1992, Hagedorn had already envisioned ecotourism as a boon for the city.

“He said we preserve nature but we should have income. It turned out that our income lies in ecotourism. That was his vision. That’s why the vote for Puerto Princesa Underground River is a dream come true,” Francisco said, referring to the world heritage site’s being cited as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World last year.

“His vision for Puerto Princesa was very advanced. Because that was what boosted the local economy. Now that is the thrust of other local governments, of the national government,” Francisco said.

Campaign platform

Aside from pushing for antipoverty legislation based on sustainable development, Hagedorn said he will also work to strengthen local governance if he is elected to the Senate.

“The major culprit of environmental degradation and criminality is still poverty. I want to share our experience in Puerto Princesa City on how to deal with poverty,” he said.

The mayor who has served nearly 21 years in public office said he will push for four-year terms for local executives without any term limits.

He is also for increasing the share of local government units in national revenues.

“If you’re limited to (a maximum of) nine years in office, how can you follow up a long-term development plan,” he said.

“Let the people decide. If the (officials) are not doing anything good, why vote for them? But definitely three years is not healthy,” Hagedorn said.

Hagedorn said he will also move to strengthen existing control measures such as the power to suspend and recall elected officials.

To avoid abuse of the power to suspend, he said the interior and justice secretaries should be barred from running for office while the appointing power is in office.

Hagedorn’s wife, Maria Elena Marcelo-Hagedorn, is now running for mayor against the incumbent vice mayor, Lucilo Bayron, her brother-in-law.


City of God title

Puerto Princesa City has claimed the title, “The City in a Forest.” But recently the city council passed a resolution declaring it “The City of God in a Forest,” according to Hagedorn.

“Many people asked us about that. How can you not be thankful when in all calamities, Puerto Princesa was always spared. The typhoon only hovers above us and does not land. Is that not an act of God?,” he said.

A gold dove-shaped collar pin is the only outward sign of Hagedorn’s spiritual side.

Even that pin would have been inconspicuous if it had not become a fixture of his campaign attire.

Asked if the pin was a lucky charm (anting-anting), Hagedorn said he had worn it since 1986 when he came to believe in the power of prayer through Jesus is Lord leader, Eddie Villanueva, who is also running for senator as an independent.

“I always pray that the wisdom of the Holy Spirit will be on my shoulder,” he said.

“Many things happened in Puerto Princesa which were impossible. So many things happened in so short a time, even the awards,” said Hagedorn.

“You can see the hand of God,” he said.

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  • tekateka

    Dvmb pinoys prefer to be fooled… that’s how stvpid pinoys are… madlang pipol with brains of a jellyfish… they prefer showbiz junks!!!

    • Mario_Garcia

      Maybe you can make a difference… do something please.

      • Billy Reyes

        By saying like that he’s already making a difference

      • Mazza02

        No he is not. He is a typical whinger…..nothing but complaints and pang lalait but no solution therefore part of the problem.

    • Mazza02

      Baka ikaw young dvmb. Ang kabastosan ay isang kapatunayan ng pagka walang modo at utak ng isang tao.

  • go88

    Ask the palawenos about haggedorns nature, you may hear another story.

    • $44479964

      Why don’t you tell us?

      • go88

        Several unexplained murders involving the family, land grabbing left and right , big chunks of the Ampalaya fund … the brother and the nephew involved in a massacre, google ‘douglas and mark hagedorn’.

        Some of the locals call them the Ampatuans of Palawan, but the mayor is very good at projecting a clean image outside Palawan.

      • willydee68

        Kin liability ist not included in any law I’m aware of…

      • walang pakundangan

        i think so

  • josh_alexei

    Was Justice served for his past Transgression? You can not profess to be a changed man unless you have paid for your past sins…

    • QritiQ

      All of us are sinners and are guilty to have transgressed God and fellowmen. Have you paid for your transgressions?

      • josh_alexei

        Transgressing the law of God is yours to pay in Time, but the law of man should be paid while you are still breathing on this world of sinners and criminal…and he admitted his transgressions of the laws of Man…and most he got away with…I would not have made mine against the Mounted Police

    • willydee68

      Well, if no one complains… Where there is no prosecution, there will be no judgement. More than twenty years after, the period of prescription has surely passed. We’re not talking about felony here.

  • $18209031

    The guy should be handcuffed for raping the resources of Palawan. The wealth he gained from selling logs from Palawan has to be repayed. Those sins were unforgivable.

    • Nelson Baguya II

      you don’t know what your talking about.

    • Mario_Garcia

      Let he who does not sin cast the first stone.

    • Mazza02

      They should also target the illegal logging companies that buy and encourage these illegal activities.

  • boybakal

    Once a gangster always a gangster….

    • josh_alexei

      And given the opportunity to mingle among his fellow Gangsters in the Senate, he will be attempting to be the “Bossing” of them All…and with all his experience, the Senate will see its worst yet..

      • Politics without principle

        Kailangan ng senate ng matinding debates para mag-isip naman sila ng magagandang laws. Maganda iba-iba background nila. Matira matibay at madami idea, maiwan/matutulog ang habol lang ay pera.

    • walang pakundangan

      were you been a gangster?

  • Joe Kano

    Puerto is okay, but it’s hardly the eco-wonderland you might assume from some media reports.
    Much of it is crowded, smoggy, choked with tricycles etc.
    Might as well be on Avenida.

  • QritiQ

    In my opinion, it would be much easier for a Senator to be a great lawmaker if he/she was a well-accomplished Local Executive. This man, Edward Hagedorn, is one of them.

  • Nelson Baguya II

    both ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCATES: HAGEDORN & ZUBIRI. one have history and experience to tell, other is just plainly stories for campaign gain. So people choose brilliantly.

    • Politics without principle

      good statement.

  • KonsensyaNgBayan

    Edward Hagedorn is better than Jackie Enrile, JV Ejercito, Nancy Binay and Mitos Magsaysay combined!!…LET US VOTE WISELY!!! Vote 11 LP and include Hagedorn!!

  • buttones

    Well, they say “Every saint has a past and every sinner a future” [Probably in Congress, we have more sinners there than you can shake a stick at….]

  • Mario_Garcia

    He has my vote

  • dennis_genio

    Edward Hagedorn might be the country´s best choice for Ministry of Tourism! Hope President Aquino sense person´s “inborn qualities” kung saan ba talaga nararapat!

  • $8866117

    they live and die by the barrel of a gun, you’re time is up Mr. Hagedorn

  • ppc veritas

    Douglas and Edward Hagedorn are not
    only corrupt. They are serial killers. Among their victims, we can
    notice :
    Vice-Mayor Dong Batul. To disculp themselves, the city of
    Puerto Princesa offered a 1,000,000 pesos reward for the Dong Batul
    murderer. Officially, 4 “witnesses” targeting a policeman
    received this amount. In fact they received 10%. The real murdered
    and a NBI inspector shared the 90%. The Court of Justice canceled the
    testimonies because each “witness” was unable to recognize
    the 3 others “witnesses”. The real murderer is living
    actually in USA.
    Governor Socrates. Unexplained plane crash. Never
    his body has been found.
    Governor Reyes mother. Her helicopter has
    been shut down by a missile accordingly to the tribe
    Comelec responsible for Palawan. Shut down beside
    the Capitol
    Mayor Oliveros attorney. Shut down in Makati while he
    was asking for the recount of the mayoral election of Puerto
    Princesa. Edward Hagedorn win the election without counting, the
    mayor Oliveros having admitted publicly his defeat. Haedorn kidnapped
    the 2 Oliveros children to get this result.
    Treasure Hunter. the
    Hagedorn brothers steal 4 tons of gold from a treasure hunter in
    Santa Monica (Puerto Princesa). The treasure hunter complained but
    has been killed. His body has never been found.
    Wescom massacre. A
    whole family (except a child that was not at home on that time) has
    been killed in Puerto Princesa. The investigation showed that the
    family head loaned 30,000,000 pesos to Douglas Hagedorn. It seems
    that he does not like to pay his debts…
    Broadcaster Jimmy
    Ortega. Rumors said that the family of the Ortega murderer receives
    money from Hagedorn has long as he is in jail. Organizing this frame,
    Hagedorn killed a broadcaster denouncing his corruption (and the
    corruption of governor Reyes) and destroyed politically his enemy,
    the governor Reyes.
    Drug dealer “Chua”. Douglas hagedorn
    does not like the competition in the drug traffic…
    Hagedorn was
    also suspected to be the master mind of the killing of a pastor and
    some NGO activists.
    The Puerto Princesa police was unable to solve
    any of these murders because under authority of Edward
    Please do not vote for Edward Hagedorn (senator),
    Douglas Hagedorn (deputy), Hellen Hagedorn (mayor) and Mark Hagedorn

    • go88

      They are the ampatuans of Palawan.

    • jolly_baby

      Hagedorn is still the best among others. to put it in perspective if you call him evil, he is the lesser evil.

    • walang pakundangan

      broadcaster jimmy ortega? well majority of this blog is twisted……

    • jundemar cabeguin

      haha gagawa ng kwento mp pre

  • Gerald

    Go Sir Hagedorn!

  • Jose Manuel Cruz

    Admitting to past transgressions doesn’t give him a clean slate. If he is indeed sincere as a changed man, he must face justice for the crimes he has committed. But then, only in the Philippines where a man can admit to being a criminal and still win in politics.

  • Felix Cortado

    There are sinners, and there are saints. But Hagedorn isn’t either, he’s worse. He basically established his dynasty in Puerto Princesa by stepping on a lot of toes, a lot of them belonging to the poor in Palawan just to get where he is. And just by admitting to being a gangster doesn’t give him the right to wipe his conscience of it.

    What’s strange is the timing of his admission, right before the elections, so clearly, it’s not just about setting records straight, but using it as propaganda.

    • jolly_baby

      Actually the admitance is not necessary… just take a look what he has done..

  • w33k3nd3r

    This man has my vote.

  • boybakal

    As said…You can take a man out of gangster but you cannot take the gangster on the man.
    Much more, there is life after gangster.
    He is a changed man.From gangster to gangnam….he can dance too.

    Vote for Hagerdon….the self confessed gangster.

    • walang pakundangan


      • BoyBakal


  • CmdrAdobo

    Yet another corrupt politician. He was in discovery channel because of the puerto princesa topic. The documentary shows sabang and palawan in general. It was showing Hagedorn giving a lot of 100 pesos to people who big. It’s really a bad message that money was just given just like that. Where did he get this money?

  • john galt

    Why was there no mention of the 2001 gubernatorial elections? He ran against Gov. Joel Reyes and miserably lost. The people of the province of Palawan knows who this guy is really is. He has not changed his ways, In fact, if he really is well-loved in Palawan, why did he not run for governor this elections? It is because he knows he will be embarrassed again.

    By the way, his brother Douglas is running as well as his wife and son in Puerto Princesa. They are now building their dynasty but fortunately, the people have enough of them.

    If you want a comprehensive read about Hagedorn, google Newsbreak/Hagedorn/2001. You will be shocked how this guy operates.

    • jundemar cabeguin

      tanga kaya hindi tatakbo si mayor for palawan gov. dahil ang puerto ay HUC na

  • Ash

    Hurrah to the publicity propaganda of this Palawan evil in green disguise. PCIJ would do well in uncovering all the horror stories and on him and his entire family. The Ombudsman will do great to the people of Palawan in doing a lifestyle check on him. Informed constituents consoles themselves that karma comes in its full measure, nothing more, nothing less.

    Do our bayang mahal a huge favor, whatever you do, never write this man’s name in your ballots.

  • Victor Magallanes

    I am just wondering why this guy did not run for Palawan governor. He could have easily won it. Or can he? He once lost in a Joel Reyes and he never again ran for governor there.

    Puerto Princesa is not Palawan nor is Palawan limited to Puerto Princesa. Majority of the tourist destinations are outside the city where LGUs, despite not being credited for their efforts, continue to develop their tourism industry. In fact, there are tourists who skips Puerto and go directly to spectacular destinations.

    And what about the new wonders of the world? An SMS based contest bereft of any support from global institutions like the UNESCO who even disowned it. It was a publicity stunt created to generate money through SMS.

  • JerryDJesus

    Hagedorn Dynasty in Puerto. Killings unsolved. Puerto Malampaya funds not liquidated. Dos Palmas incident. Unabated jueteng. Want more?

    Hagedorn does not deserve the honor of being a government official. He has abused his powers for so long now. This man has no qualms of doing anything just to stay in power. He was, is, and will always be a gangster.

    • walang pakundangan

      who knows ? Is that your personal experience?

  • Veronica Sanchez

    Well-oiled PR machinery Edward. You got the whole country believing in you. But why can’t you get the people of Palawan to vote for you? Is it because they know who you really are? I cringe at the thought of you being elected as senator. Gangsters will really have a field day if you win. But I think that social media has helped unmasking your true character. People now have a medium to use to speak against you unlike in the past when the mainstream media were afraid of you or perhaps “payolized” (a word your operators used) to print or air anything that will hurt your reputation. By the way, how is Pepito Alvarez?

    • jundemar cabeguin

      excuse me 1 time lang si mayor tumakbo sa provincial level, sa puerto lang siya tumakbo, puerto people voted him for not less than 6 times

  • Fernestor Chua Batul

    best excuse ng mga politician “environmentalist” the most convenient and easiest issue to stand. 21 years mayor ng puerto princesa city si mayor Hagedorn with P1.4BILLION annual IRA, good thing meron God given underground river paano nlang kung wala?

  • SumSubstance

    I have questions for Mr. Thugedorn, and I hope he could
    answer and not create smoke screens regarding the following issues: What
    happened to the illegal recruitment of city laborers for Taiwan? How about the
    controversial Kapakanan livelihood project of the city government that did not
    go to the intended beneficiaries? And what really is the role of the mayor’s
    radio station dyER in dispensing financial assistance from the city government?
    These may be old, but since your ambitions have brought you to the national
    limelight, the real Palawenyos are now hoping you could shed light and come clean. If
    you think you really are clean and have changed. You see Ed, the whole country
    is too big for you to dupe.

  • Mitch Ilano

    “I was a bandit before,” – You still are! In fact your are Palawan’s most feared criminal. Everybody knows it was you behind Batul and Ortega’s murder.

    • willydee68

      Repeating an assertion again and again only leads to people getting convinced of it. Yet the assertion does not become truth without evidence.

    • walang pakundangan

      JTR is the man behind ortega, behind batul? Well a criminal is always a criminal

    • jundemar cabeguin

      tanga mo yung kay doc jerry ortega , mga reyes gumawa nun

  • Mateo Guinto

    Akoy isang pulis na na assign sa Puerto Princesa at masasabi kong di nagbago si Hagedorn. Pag ito ay naging senador, maraming mamamatay sa Palawan.

    • walang pakundangan

      isa ka na… magtago ka na

  • salzabala

    Once a gangster, always a gangster. He got away with killing vice mayor Dong Batul and now he is slowly getting away with killing Gerry Ortega. Once a killer, always a killer.

  • godadivas

    I’ll take a lucky gamble with an achiever like Hagedorn !

  • koolkid_inthehouse

    Hagedorn should be the senator.

  • Marcos5

    Protect Palawan at all cost….from foreign or domestic. Outside Palawan airport getting off the tarmac, outside you will see a big banner warning the communists and symphatizers not to step foot in Palawan or else…..

  • $8866117

    once a criminal always a criminal. hagedorn, jackie, tito sotto, erap.

    • walang pakundangan

      include your name…

      • $8866117

        wow, are you hagedorn, jakie, tito sotto and erap’s lawyer, if you are then, nothing to explain

      • jundemar cabeguin

        kong ayaw mo di wag kang bomoto

      • $8866117

        jun, right attitude.

  • BoyBakal

    He still looks like a gangster.

  • GustoKoHappyKa

    Nakaka awa ang Pilipinas kung matatalo si Hagedorn at mananalo sina Binay na wala naman alam kungdi maging alalay ng tatay nya…
    Vote Hagedorn!!!

  • sir jojo capapas

    I just came back from palawan for a week holiday….and I don’t think palawan is ready to cater the tourists needs……walang electricity at wifi, lubaklubak ang kalsada at walang HALAL restaurant / food…mapahiya tuloy ako to my foreign guests…..napaka over rated ng promotion. To the concern people of Palawan….VOTE WISELY….!!!

    • jundemar cabeguin

      anung tingin mo sa palawan singapore? , kong ganyan hanap mo di mo na papuntahin mga guest mo

  • g122y

    Mayor po ng Puerto Princesa si Hagedorn,hindi po Governor ng Palawan.ahaha

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