GOD willing, the city of Manila will experience another first in 2022. That is, having a lady mayor at its helm.
Mayor Isko Moreno says he is a thousand percent sure that Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna is indeed ripe and more than ready to take over the governance of the country’s capital city, citing her qualifications, dedication to duty and love for Manilans.
So confident is he that Manila will be in such good hands with Lacuna, that Moreno had decided to take a shot at bringing to the entire nation the kind of changes and progress that their tandem had brought in Manila in a period of just two years.
This is so, because in all major projects, programs or measures that the city administration had undertaken, Vice Mayor Honey was there to support and take active part, specifically when the two of them led the crafting of the social amelioration package that now gives monthly cash allowances and other benefits to senior citizens, solo parents, college students and persons with disabilities.
The mayor is happy that incumbent Vice Mayor Honey and her vice-mayoral candidate, actor-turned-politician Yul Servo, are not being complacent in any way, despite their extreme edge over their opponents. Servo, by the way, is currently the Congressman representing the third district of Manila, who served as city councilor for three straight terms or a total of nine years, before he plunged into the Congressional race for the first time and winning it handily.
Asked why they think Manilans will go for their tandem, Lacuna and Servo are in unison in declaring that apart from their qualifications, they are the only ones who can assure the continuity of all the pro-people programs that have been started by the administration of Mayor Isko and whose success, the mayor himself consistently attributes not only to himself but to the active participation and support of Vice Mayor Honey, in her capacity not only as the ‘number two man’ in City Hall but also as a lady doctor, a ‘sister’ and as Presiding Officer of the 38-member Manila City Council.
Many programs initiated by the Moreno-Lacuna tandem needed the nod of the Manila City Council and it was always Lacuna who ensures that the mayor gets it in no time, by holding emergency sessions that even run through the night, specially for ordinances that are aimed at alleviating the condition of the poor and underprivileged.
Fate had it that before the pandemic struck, Moreno had assigned Lacuna to handle the health aspect of city governance, putting under her direct control and supervision all the city-run hospitals and health centers and everything else that had anything to do with the city’s health situation.
The mayor tapped Lacuna’s being a lady doctor to the fullest and brought out the best in her when he tasked her with handling the city’s mass vaccination program, along with Manila Health Department head Dr. Poks Pangan.
Not only was Lacuna able to keep up with the speed expected by Moreno in vaccinating as many as possible, but she even exceeded it, putting Manila on top of all other cities when it comes to number of people who had already been vaccinated. To date, the city government of Manila has vaccinated over 132 percent of its qualified population with first dose and more than 121 percent with second dose.
Lacuna’s highly-efficient handling of the mass vaccination program enabled the mayor to focus more on all other pandemic-related problems so that they were all amply addressed with the vice mayor consistently there to participate in the brainstorming and needed council proceedings.
The city provided food security program provided basic food supplies to all of the some 680,000 families for several months at the height of lockdowns and strict quarantines while students and teachers were provided with free gadgets and bandwidth to enable them to participate effectively in their online classes.
Seven housing projects were also begun along with the building of new school buildings while the new Ospital ng Maynila and the new Manila Zoo which will be at par with those abroad are also expected to be opened to the public at least by yearend.
Lacuna’s rise to power and expertise in handling the pandemic was honed by years of experience also as a city councilor and former head of the city’s social welfare department and also by her motherly instincts. Manila was way ahead and bested even the national government in establishing numerous quarantine facilities, providing free swab tests, establishing drive-thru swab testing and even vaccination, putting up a molecular laboratory and cold storage facility for the vaccines and the construction of the COVID-19 Field Hospital, among others.
The political clout and strength of Lacuna was validated by the speed with which she and Servo were able to form their slate, majority of whom are political bigwigs and incumbents and which comes complete with six Congressional candidates and 36 candidates for councilor. There are even many councilor hopefuls who did not make it to the cut and yet willingly continue to align themselves with the Asenso Manileno ticket of Lacuna and Servo.
Jokjok (from Linda Robles of Maricaban, Pasay City)
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