Election 2016: With 6 choices, Pateros poised for fresh leadership
THE MAYORAL election in Pateros presents a scenario not so common among local races. The incumbent, Jaime Medina, is on his last term and not fielding any member of his family to be his successor. The top local government post is therefore up for grabs among six contenders who can usher in a new brand of leadership for the small town of just under 70,000 (based on the 2010 census).
The candidates include two current councilors (one of them a former beauty queen-actress), a former vice mayor (who is Medina’s anointed one), a businessman, a pastor, and an also-ran in the last mayoral contest. They are the choices for the town’s 33,938 registered voters.
This installment of the Inquirer Metro series leading to the May 9 elections focuses on the lone municipality among the 17 local government units making up the National Capital Region. It presents the candidates’ plans for addressing three issues affecting residents and nonresidents alike: traffic, peace and order, and informal settlers.
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DAISY REYES, 39; incumbent councilor, former beauty queen-actress
On traffic: The worst traffic conditions here can be experienced on B. Morcilla. The problem in Pateros is that we keep on using our streets for two-way traffic when there should be more one-way streets. Although many will oppose my decision, it should still be followed since I am their leader. What I think is right should be followed. Second, there are a lot of tricycles but some of them are “colorum” (unauthorized), so we plan to get rid of them.
On peace and order: Whatever the national government says in promoting peace and order, we will follow and adopt it in the local government. The problem here is the rising number of drug pushers. My solution is to make everyone undergo a drug test. I want them jailed immediately once they are caught and we will have a separate jail for them.
On informal settlers: The informal settlers in Pateros mostly live near the river. For their safety, we have been relocating them to Baras and Montalban (in Rizal province). Providing housing for the urban poor is part of my platform, but we need the national government for this because, while we provide the land, it is in charge of building the houses.
JORGE NICDAO, 52; incumbent councilor
On traffic: We have three major choke points: on the Ususan (Taguig) side, Comembo (Makati), and San Joaquin (Pasig). The problem is that we are being exploited as a terminal for these three cities and the municipality is not giving enough attention to traffic management. I intend to ban all trucks, tricycles and public utility vehicles that are not legitimately operating in Pateros. There will be complete traffic management along these boundaries. Traffic in Pateros is so frustrating that I intend to implement revolutionary traffic schemes. There are no one-way streets here, for example. Our roads are so narrow and we cannot do road-widening projects anymore since residential areas are already packed.
On peace and order: Drug pushing is rampant here. I will set up a Mayor’s Action and Command Center that will operate 24/7 to receive complaints and requests for services (police assistance, ambulance, medical treatment). I will also focus on creating civilian volunteer groups in every community who can help authorities keep the peace, gather information and apprehend drug pushers. I will personally visit depressed areas, for I grew up in one. Another way to address criminality is to improve the road access to communities for unhampered police operations.
On informal settlers: There are informal settlers here but not that many. I have been president of an urban (poor) federation and chair of the urban planning and development (committee). I intend to purchase all pieces of idle land here for low- and medium-rise housing projects.
DELFIN DELA ROSA, 51; pastor
On traffic: The worst is on Almeda Street, at the center of the municipality. Our roads are really narrow and the establishments (including schools) along these roads don’t have parking areas. For now, I don’t see road-widening projects as the solution, but law enforcement and discipline. We will need the help of the police, of course; they must be visible and enforce loading and unloading regulations. We will also not allow private vehicles to just park anywhere.
On peace and order: Being a preacher, I have two plans for this. The first involves self-rehabilitation. We will have chaplains or pastors to advance this kind of solution. They will conduct Bible studies and teach values to schoolchildren. I believe this spiritual approach is one weapon against drugs, criminality, teenage pregnancy, irresponsible parenthood, and other problems in this society. I have been to depressed areas and feel sorry for the children as morality and quality of life have sunken so low.
I will focus on depressed areas when it comes to peace and order. Hence, in my second plan, we will set up 24/7 police outposts, closed-circuit television cameras, and streetlamps in these isolated areas. These measures will also make them safer for health workers whose services are needed there.
On informal settlers: We have so many informal settlers especially near the river, but I don’t see their removal as the solution to their poverty. My plan is to train them to become entrepreneurs and provide them capital. There will be a building specially used for my “Produktong Pateros” livelihood program. Our municipality is known for Alfombra (slippers), salted eggs, balut, and shoes, so we will capitalize on these specialties in drawing up training courses.
WILLIE BUENAVENTURA, 49; former vice mayor
On traffic: This falls under my 10-point agenda for the next three years. Our Community Mobility System should improve traffic flow in Pateros through community participation. Together with the barangay councilor for peace and order, we will intensify the campaign to clear the streets of all obstructions. A regular monthly meeting will be held to monitor its progress. Given the slim prospects for road widening projects due to lack of funds, our next solution is to identify areas for new road networks. We will reopen talks with the next mayor of Makati for the construction of the other half of Aguho Bridge, which can serve as an alternative route going to Bonifacio Global City.
On peace and order: As a doctor, I always abide by the saying that “an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.” Part of my program will be the installation of additional CCTVs connected to a center monitored by our police and traffic management group. This is apart from the intensified police visibility and support from our barangay tanod. We will provide emergency and safety training for our tanod, and make sure that their health insurance will be included in the yearly barangay budget.
On informal settlers: This is not really a major problem in our municipality since most of our urban poor associations already have approved subdivision plans and are already in the stage of gaining ownership of the land they (occupy), except those who encroach on the banks of the Pasig River tributaries. We will continue to assist these associations until they finally get their land titles.
On alleviating poverty, we still believe in the saying that “If someone asks for fish, do not give them fish but rather teach them how to fish.” Under my administration, we will improve the most important asset of Pateros—our people. From what we have learned during our consultations with the different sectors before the start of the campaign, one of the top issues concerning our kababayan is finding jobs. We have come up with programs to better equip our kababayan to be more competitive by providing the right opportunities for personal development through education and a better business environment.
Our Balik Eskwela Program and Education to Employment Program target youths who could not enroll in regular schools due to financial constraints. We will enhance our Alternative Learning System in cooperation with the Department of Education, which has been very successful in helping our youth finish high school. We also aim to provide additional “in-demand” courses at Pateros Technological College and Pateros Manpower Training Center, the latter accredited by Tesda.
Under our Central Business District Gateway Program, our target population will be our skilled workers. We will provide training for those who wish to improve their skills (including persons with disabilities, senior citizens and mothers who wish to open a small business at home), thereby making them more competitive, since we are in the middle of three big cities that can provide jobs for our laborers. We will pursue our plan to have a Skilled Workers Directory to help our workers meet employers’ requirements or find jobs in these cities that match their skills.
RAMON ROXAS, 46; businessman
On traffic: B. Morcilla Street is the business center of Pateros. No vehicle will be allowed to park along that street in order to ease traffic flow. The same goes for M. Almeda Street, being the national road of Pateros that also connects Pasig and Taguig.
On peace and order: First, police visibility must be present at all times in every street. Second, we will fully utilize and add more CCTVs to cover the major streets as much as possible. Third, we will require every business establishment to install CCTVs within their leased premises. Lastly, regular police checkpoints in all entry and exit points of the municipality.
On informal settlers: We will be focusing on our (local) economy by encouraging micro-, small- and medium-scale enterprises to put up their businesses in Pateros. They will be required to hire at least 80 percent of their workforce from Pateros residents; the rest could come from outside the municipality. We will set up the New Pateros Cooperative, which will then give rise to a “Lively Hood Center” that will assist every Pateros resident who wants to have a family business.
IKE PONCE, a candidate who ran for mayor in 2013, did not respond when asked to present his platform in this series.
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