Columns from Malaya and Abante – Edition 2009 – 356
Lito Atienza Wants Manila – Again!
“Manila has deteriorated once again under the present local administration with its lack of vision and program of government.”
by Ducky Paredes
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary and former Mayor Lito Atienza, the only undefeated Mayor of Manila, was elated that, on filing his Certificate of Candidacy (COC), a large crowd of Manileños greeted him, shook his hands, clapped and urged him on. After a Thanksgiving Mass at Quiapo Church, Atienza marched to Comelec’s local office along Arroceros Street with his Buhayin ang MayniLA ticket to file his certificate of candidacy for Mayor of Manila.
Lito sees his candidacy as heeding the cry of Manileños to restore his urban renewal and sustainable development program and replace the present administration, which totally neglected the city and its residents:
“Manileños, especially the poor and other marginalized sectors, have not only witnessed but experienced genuine progress under my administration’s Buhayin ang MayniLA program. We had a vision and it was pursued and delivered. For nine straight years (which is the only allowable maximum term limit for elected local officials under the Constitution), residents enjoyed, among others, health centers and hospitals with adequate equipment, facilities, free medicines and services as nutrition programs were also in place.
“Young underprivileged Manileños were given ‘no tuition fee’ quality education with competitive standards. Businesses were thriving as jobs and livelihood opportunities were generated and city hall processes were streamlined against red tape and corruption. Manila was always safe then because law violators were not only apprehended but punished as well. Garbage, likewise, were regularly collected and roads were well maintained. The city had a clean, healthy and progressive environment to live in.”
Inheriting a low revenue collection of only P2 billion annually from his predecessor in 1998, Atienza, through innovative reforms, raised the city’s revenue to P8 billion. Atienza’s income-generating efforts were highlighted when he was cited in a center spread published 2006 financial report of no less than the Commission on Audit (COA) and Department of Finance (DOF): “The city enjoyed a very healthy economy when taxes were effectively collected and efficiently delivered back to Manileños.” Atienza left a P2.6-billion fund after Lito’s term as Mayor ended in 2007.
“Manila has deteriorated once again under the present local administration with its lack of vision and program of government. For three years, the Lim government has deprived Manileños of the right kind of life they deserve by removing and destroying what my administration worked hard for the people in nine years.
“Chaos and squalor in all parts of Manila were tolerated once more that shooed people and opportunities away from the city. Ang ibinigay naming tunay na pag-asa at liwanag ng kaunlaran sa Maynila ay muli na namang nagdilim sa mali at di-wastong pamamalakad. Noon, Maynila ang nangunguna at sinusundan. Ngayon, napag-iwanan na naman ang lungsod. Despite great opposition from residents, non-government organizations and the church, they (Lim administration) even railroaded an ordinance (8187) which allowed and ensured the permanent stay of “highly pollutive and extremely hazardous industries” in the capital, including the oil depots in Pandacan which placed the lives of Manileños in grave danger and made Manila the most polluted and toxic city in the world. I consider it the highest form of insensitivity against worldwide efforts to fight pollution and global warming. Plus, the massive syndicated graft and corruption which effected the sale of prime public properties to favor some individuals and personalities,” Atienza stressed.
Atienza was born and raised in Manila. He rose from the ranks starting as a barangay tanod (watchman). He moved up to kagawad then, barangay chairman. He was elected Assemblyman, despite being an opposition candidate, representing the City of Manila at the Batasang Pambansa during Martial Law and served as National Housing Authority (NHA) General Manager during Cory Aquino’s presidency. Atienza was elected Vice Mayor of Manila in 1992 and, in 1998, became the only Vice Mayor ever elected Mayor of Manila. He has defeated political giants in Manila including current Mayor Alfredo Lim in 2001. In 2004, he garnered the largest lead vote against an electoral opponent ever recorded in Manila’s political history.
Atienza’s governance has always hewed to his steadfast belief on the value of life. He was unanimously elected anew as President of Pro-Life Philippines, being the longest serving head of the organization. Atienza has consistently been at the forefront of upholding and protecting the value and sanctity of life. Lito dismisses the idea that poverty is caused by population growth; he sees this as a mere “alibi for failure.”
During his turn as Mayor, Atienza ensured an improved quality of life for Manila residents by bringing out the full potential of each and every Manileño. He firmly believes that development, good governance, and the equal distribution of opportunities are the necessary elements to sustain a healthy growing population and would bring people to their best state.
The other candidates under Atienza’s Buhayin ang MayniLA ticket are: Bonjay Isip-Garcia for Vice Mayor; for district 1 Councilors – Dennis Alcoreza, Edwin Simbulan, Eduardo Solis, Danny Isiderio, and German Nuñez; for district 2 Councilors – Marlon Lacson, Numero Uno Lim, Ivy Varona, Boy Laxa, Nida Buenaventura-Panti, and Ike Hernandez Villegas; Letlet Zarcal for district 3 Congressman; for district 3 Councilors – Joel Chua, Ramon Morales, Larsil Silva, Robbie Oca, Don Neil Dela Peña, and Alejandro Gomez; for district 4 Councilors – Gerino Tolentino, Jocelyn Quintos, Susan Beltran, DJ Bagatsing, Caloy Trinidad, and Robin Aquino Padilla; Amado Bagatsing for district 5 Congressman; for district 5 Councilors – Cora Gernale, Cristy Isip, Rafael Borromeo, Robert Ortega, Joey Cabreza, and Harry Huecas; Benny Abante for district 6 Congressman; and for district 6 Councilors – Joy Dawis-Asuncion, Joey Uy, Caloy Castañeda, Vladimir Cabigao, and Casimiro Sison
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According to a recent survey, Lito Atienza is presently running third behind incumbent Mayor Fred Lim and former policeman and Peace Adviser Sonny Razon. Of course, the campaign has not yet begun and Lito has not yet begun campaigning and did not do so as a non-candidate prior to filing his CoC as Sonny Razon did.
My take on the Manila elections is that it will be a dogfight exclusively between Mayor Lim and Former Mayor Atienza.