USC Hosts Third Klarohay Ta! 2019 Local Candidates Forum
The third Klarohay Ta! Candidates’ forum for local candidates was held last April 8, 2019 in the Theodore Buttenbrunch Hall at the University of San Carlos (USC) Downtown Campus. The organizers, Mega Cebu in collaboration with Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc., the Commission of Election Region VII, USC, private and public sectors, as well as media partners, held national candidates forums previously in the month of March and once again invited local candidates for the month of April.
Atty. Ferdinand Guhilde, the election officer delivered his opening remarks, emphasizing the non-partisan aspect of the forum program as it is multi-sectoral and involves the academic community.
The mechanics and rules for the candidates and audience were then announced, including the question for the hopeful politicians to answer, which was: “what can you offer Cebu province in general, and Metro Cebu in particular as it experiences urbanization?”
The candidates present were from Mandaue city. Mayoral candidate, Luigi Quisimbing, vice-mayoral candidate, Atty. Carlo Fortuna, and running for the position of sixth district legislative representative candidate, Atty. Baldomero Estenzo, all from Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) attended.
During their on-going campaign, Quisimbing said that it is good, long and tiring. It is the same as any campaign period as they get to see firsthand the reactions of every sector in the community of Mandaue on their visits.
New in politics, Atty. Estenzo was asked about what got him into running for a position in the government. He said that somebody asked for him to run in congress and he could not turn his back in the opportunity to serve the sixth district. Also, running with Quisimbing and Fortuna, it meant he is in good company.
With the positions that they could hold, Fortuna sees that Mandaue could be greater if challenges are overcome. Quisimbing recognized the social imbalance in Mandaue, the progress that they could do in its infrastructures, and the need to balance economic progress and opportunities.
On the topic of road improvement and infrastructure development, specifically on transport and traffic management, Quisimbing said that traffic is a question of capacity since there are hundreds of cars and motorcycles in the city. He stated that widening roads, developing valuable interconnectedmass transits to take some vehicles off the road, and adapting non-convention traffic solutions in collaboration with Gothong such as water taxis are the solutions to the problem. There is also the upcoming project of an overpass, meaning traffic would be expected, with this, traffic discipline and alternative routes will be needed to deal with it. Fortuna stated that the establishment of service roads while an overpass is in construction would be helpful. Thus, the project shall not commence unless service roads are built. On the timeline of this project, it depends on the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). Due to the proposal for a tri-level overpass being denied by the DPWH, the mass transport system becomes the key.
Quisimbing went on to say that solving this problem cannot only be done with one solution, as having habal-habal motorcycles, tricycles and buses is a way to decongest traffic load. Fortuna mentioned the proposed rail system, the Urban Mass Rail Transport (UMRT) that connects Metro Cebu and Mactan as one of the infrastructure developments.
The closure of Big Hotel also came up. The mayoral candidate stated that Big Hotel does not exist as far as Mandaue is concerned because the contract was with a hardware company. He said that they gave as much time as possible for the company to secure documents but correct and legal actions must be done. In the end, the Commission on Audit (COA) was the final arbiter in the issue of the government property involved. The vice mayoral candidate backed this statement up, saying that it was a pure commercial transaction. When there is no business permit, then it must be closed.
On the plans for Cebu International Convention Center (CICC), Quisimbing proposed an entertainment complex that would be a “game changer” through public-private partnership. This becomes the new convention center, a high residential establishment for gaming, capturing massive employment generators and investors. Underground cabling could also be possible in this opportunity. He said that this would be the Mandaue Central Business District. Fortuna added, that Mandaue is the infinite city. On the legislative agenda needed on this, Estenzo said that assistance should be granted.
On the plans for the command center, Quisimbing said that a number of visitors have seen the beginnings of Intelligent Traffic System (ITS), whichis on-going. It is in process of transition. What they have right now is the old system which is weak and needs manual human intervention. However, together with Land Transportation Office (LTO), the ITS having artificial intelligence (AI), the issuance of traffic violations becomes fast and easy. It could be an improvement. In additiom, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency is working on not just capturing plate numbers but also facial recognitions that could help in reporting wanted suspects.
On the flooding situation, in collaboration with the University of the Philippines (UP), a drainage master plan was made. Fortuna said that there must be intervention for Cebu City. The water must be captured in the upland instead of letting all the water go to Mandaue, in which this could also be the reason of the flood in A.S. Fortuna.
The outfall in Butuanon River was also discussed. Fortuna said that not just sanctions, but collaboration must be done for establishments who violate and pour waste to Butuanon River.
Estenzo added that a single local government units (LGU) is not enough and an integrated movement must happen.
On the topic of environmental management specifically on health sanitation and waste management, the ban of single use plastics became possible as the youth also actively participated in this. As for the Umapad dumpsite, in decades of abuse and neglect, it has become fire-prone. With methane gas and plastics present, it was hazardous to residents, thus the complete rehabilitation of Umapad dumpsite came in. For the affected families, livelihood training programs are being provided. The wastes are then dumped to Consolation, strictly implementing in the community, the “No Segregation, No Collection Policy.”
On social inequity and lack of balance of income, the establishment of Hinabang sa Edukasyon, Livelihood ug Panglawas sa tanan (HELPS) was the solution according to Quisimbing. With the lack of social services, now they turn to invest ineducational, medical and livelihood assistance.
As for the shelter for the urban poor, Quisimbing said that it is not covered due to the land that is limited in Mandaue despite there being socialized housing for government employees approved by the president.
As for the loan legislative district, Estenzo said that the senate approved but the problem is lack of space, mentioned by Quisimbing, but they could look into tenement houses, going up instead.
On public safety, the question was “is the increase number of drug related killings of suspects good for mandaue?” Quisimbing stated that Mandaue is the safest city, the crime rate has fallen up to 36 percent and Mandaue is part of the top five in nationwide drug metrics. He also said that Mandaue is the most expensive place in Visayas to buy drugs due to successfully crippling the line of drug pushers.
On extrajudicial killings (EJK), Quisimbing said that it is prevalent because of the victory in fight against illegal drugs. He emphasized that no innocent bystanders were caught up in operations, all of which were drug pushers and drug lords.
On the issue of continuing drug rehabilitations, the church is active in helping according to Quisimbing. He said that intellectual and spiritual matter of behavior modification is needed. Fortuna recognized faith-based ministries and pastors that help them in dealing with the rehab, and that they are now the highest performing under counseling in terms of drug rehabs.
On family, Fortuna was asked if he has plans on getting married, and he said yes. As for Quisimbing, he explained his relationship with his grandfather. He said that people around his grandfather committed serious acts as means to attack him and unfortunate actions happened because of this. Estenzo tackled on family politics in Mandaue, specifically the clannish Mandaue, stating that Mandauehanons are intelligent voters and that they will select the best candidate for the position.
On governance, the previous side-by-side team up of Jonas Cortes and Luigi Quisimbing was discussed. “I was blamed for his corruption,” said Quisimbing. He stated that he was blamed for the corruption even though the anomalies and transactions were under Cortes’ administration. Estenzo, though being distant relatives with Cortes, said that he is happy to join Quisimbing and Fortuna as they are not tainted with corruption issues.
On vote-buying, Estenzo emphasized on educating voters. He introduced competence, commitment to public service, and character as the criteria to meet in choosing politicians. He strongly advised to refuse vote buying. Fortuna said that when economy becomes better, vote-buying won’t exist. Mandaue is 73rd in rank of competitiveness in the country before, and now they are in the 13th. Bringing more people and investments to solve insufficient incomes, and implementing programs could also give the people the luxury of choice, Quisimbing added.
On basic services, specifically the water supply and water shortage solutions, Quisimbing said that installing sewage septage treatment plan was planned. The project was then canceled because the land is unsuitable due to presence of methane gas. The development on water utilities and working together with agencies serve as the solutions.
The Bugsay as the symbol of bayanihan spirit and cooperation among LGU was then signed by the candidates to support Mega Cebu.
The next forum that will be held on April 10, 2019, the camp of Jonas Cortes, the mayoral and vice mayoral candidate from Lapu Lapu City and Municipality of Consolation are expected to attend.