July 07, 2019
Politicians can prove to the electorate that they deserve the votes they had won by delivering on the promises they made during the campaign. Many of such pledges, unfortunately, remain undelivered or are broken, causing disappointment and the loss of faith by the people in their elected leaders.
There will always be exceptions to such mold of politicians, of course, and a rare breed sometimes emerges to surprise his constituents by doing exactly what he said he would do if given the chance to serve the people.
The new mayor of the city of Manila, the seat of government and a cultural hub, shows potential as being in that new mold. Francisco Moreno Domagoso, a former actor more popularly known as “Isko Moreno,” had promised to give his birthplace a new beginning by literally cleaning it up and ridding it of not just mountains of garbage, but of lawbreakers, the corrupt and abusive members of government and society. These include the lawless public utility vehicle drivers and other motorists, as well as the illegal street vendors that have caused perennial traffic jams in the Philippine capital.
Less than a week into his three-year term of office, Isko Moreno, who served as vice mayor under the city’s previous leadership, has shown how to put his celebrity status to good use, rallying people behind him and those holding the cameras in front of him as he went to work and accomplished his initial targets according to plan. He has been seen on TV and social media dealing with vendors to steer clear of the city’s streets, and destroying illegal structures that obstructed traffic. Later, news broadcasts showed the normally clogged streets of Divisoria, Recto and other districts of the city cleared of the mess.
Based on man-on-the-street interviews on TV and social media so far, people happily welcome him as the new leader of the city, a man who could be the real deal.
While it would be too early to tell if he could sustain his initial performance, given that he only has more than 1,000 days to restore the glory of Manila, it might be fair to say that he would certainly need the continued support of other public officials of the city government, the police, and his constituents themselves to fulfill all that he had promised.
More than the physical garbage in the city, a bigger challenge would be to tidy up the political trash and shenanigans left by the previous administrations that are reportedly just beginning to unravel before him.
The new Manila mayor obviously needs all the support that could possibly be given to him by the people of the city that saw him rise from a garbage collector that he was when he was just a boy, into the principal steward of Manila that he now is.
Even those in the so-called underground economy, including the illegal vendors who have been dislocated by Moreno’s relentless pursuit of the law and social order, could throw their support behind the reformer and game changer.
These street vendors have obviously lost their livelihood as a result of the cleanup drive. Who would need a prettified city if its small people go hungry, are idle and could become potential threats to the very peace sought by all Manileños and Moreno?
The city government could consider providing them new space — small alleys impassable to cars but only to pedestrians, where they could reestablish their presence and continue to conduct their trade — unmolested by those behind alleged protection rackets and where prospective customers could legally buy good merchandise by retail otherwise not found in shopping malls.
We hope to also see positive changes taking place in other towns or cities that have new leaders. These should include the cities of Quezon, Pasig and San Juan, whose mayors are all young like Moreno, with Vico Sotto of Pasig being the youngest at 30. They are expected to bring with them new energy, vision and enthusiasm as they proceed to deliver on the promises they made to their constituents whom they pledged to serve.
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