Elections 2016: Makati at the crossroads
They have three choices for mayor, but Makati residents know the battle is mainly between two: the vice mayor who took over the city’s top post nine months ago with vows of a thorough house-cleaning, and the sibling of the dismissed mayor whose family has dominated the local government over the last 30 years and taken pride in the city’s growth as a commercial and corporate hub under their watch. But then, the third candidate—a man of the arts—may embody a yearning for change away from the old ruling cliques.
As part of a series leading to the May 9 elections, Inquirer Metro has asked the candidates about their plans to address the perennial issues of traffic, peace and order, and informal settlers—three of the most pressing concerns that affect residents and nonresidents alike.
Of late the center of national attention because of the riveting, politically charged scrutiny of its public spending, the city of just over half a million, of whom 397,587 are registered voters, finds itself at the crossroads.
MAR-LEN ABIGAIL ‘ABBY’ BINAY, 40; incumbent congresswoman
On traffic. Makati’s central business district is easily congested during rush hour. The long-term solution is an effective mass transport system within the city. Though this system, people who work here will no longer need to use cars and will have a viable option to go around the city while at work. Our long-term plan is to have the first subway system in the Philippines. But an immediate solution is to expand the existing bus service for city employees and residents, which was started by my brother (Junjun) to cover more routes during rush hour.
On peace and order. I plan to make Makati a fully operational WiFi city. Considering that much of the city already has fiber optics, infrastructure and good internet connection, barangay halls can serve as hubs for WiFi interconnectivity which will not only provide free internet to residents but also allow linkups among the barangays, City Hall, the police and other government agencies. This will include connections with existing and soon-to-be-installed security cameras and other emergency devices. The WiFi connection will lead to shorter response time, quicker apprehension (of criminals), and stronger deterrence.
On informal settlers. There are actually no informal settlers in properties owned by the city. However, there are informal settlers in private properties. For them, the city shall extend all assistance necessary to uplift their lives through possible land grants, partnerships with the National Housing Authority and Social Housing Finance Corp. The city will also ensure that court orders are fairly and properly implemented within the city.
ROMULO ‘KID’ PEÑA, 46; incumbent mayor
On traffic. The most traffic-congested areas in Makati, especially during the rush hours, are Ayala Avenue, Buendia/Gil Puyat and Chino Roces Avenue. For Ayala, we would like to establish a monorail system in partnership with the business sector, stakeholders and other countries like Japan, France and New Zealand. There are already blueprints for this project with the help of these countries which will make the central business district as the model.
A pedestrian project along Buendia is necessary because strict adherence to traffic rules both by motorists and pedestrians will help ease traffic buildup.
We will also push for organized vending along Chino Roces, especially in areas like Don Bosco and Makati Cinema Square which become congested not only when there is flooding but also when illegal vendors set up stalls along the street.
We recently regularized 67 casual employees of the Public Safety Department to give traffic officers security of tenure. Their benefits are now assured to (discourage them from engaging in) extortion.
On peace and order. It is my aim to improve the rescue capability of the city especially during emergencies and disasters. If the people of Makati will help me in the coming elections, it is my goal to buy a helicopter for the city to help in search and rescue efforts.
We also plan to gather all sectors in a convention that will tackle the fight against drugs. My administration also hopes to bring back the control of the Makati Anti Drug Abuse Council (Madac) to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. There are also fewer riding-in-tandem criminals in the city because of the 160 CCTV cameras installed in different areas.
My 10-point agenda includes plans to provide additional motorcycles for policemen and an effective radio system for faster response to crimes and emergencies.
On informal settlers. An in-city relocation for informal settlers is the ultimate goal of my administration. The Macda compound in Guadalupe is our target for the relocation of these families. We are also reaching out to the owners of Laperal Compound for a similar project. We hope to guarantee that these residents will have jobs to sustain their families and help them send their kids to school. I also want to exercise the most humane way of relocating informal settlers. Proof of this is my constant visits to Makati Homeville, the city’s relocation site in Calauan, Laguna, where basic necessities like electricity and water were installed under my watch.
JIMMY JUMAWAN, 53; arts and music teacher, playwright-director
On traffic. There are a lot of heavy-traffic areas Makati like JP Rizal and the roads going to Buting in Pasig City. One of the main causes of traffic are illegally parked cars which occupy streets and prevent other motorists from using alternative routes. My solution would be the strict implementation of a “no garage, no car” policy. Residents have been so used to parking their cars along the road, even vehicles that are already in disrepair. I will also add more traffic enforcers.
For the stretch of Edsa that covers Makati, I think a flyover from Guadalupe to Magallanes will be very helpful to motorists.
On peace and order. I plan to add high-definition CCTV cameras and streetlights for the easier apprehension of criminals. Once captured, they will be jailed in a modern facility where they will have individual rooms and allowed to watch TV provided that the only programs shown are about the teachings of Christ. I think they need this for their reformation, for them to realize that they have done wrong.
On informal settlers. I am for in-city relocation. I envision a housing program that is free for all informal settlers in the city. All they need to give in return is the assurance that they will take care of their homes and live decent lives. I also want to give them jobs, livelihood programs and skills training so they can support their families.