ROCKINGHAM, North Carolina—As I wrote this, Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Rolando ‘Klarex’ Uy and other local and national officials headed by President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. are set to mark their first 100 days of office and while 100 days may be but a whiff of (fresh/fetid) air, it does set the tone for better or worse on what’s to come in the next three years.
And not a few people would agree or disagree with me that while nothing overtly major occurred during the first 100 days of Mayor Klarex’s administration, there are some indicators of what his three years in office would entail. Suffice it to say that a return to local personalized politics is cemented as Mayor Klarex seeks to win the hearts of the people through four days of outreach and in-house delivery of social services.
Let me explain for those unfamiliar with the city’s political landscape in particular and Philippine politics in general. In pledging to bring City Hall closer to the people, Mayor Klarex embarked on a four-day program worth of social services consisting of Tuesday visits to flag-raising programs of barangays, two ‘People’s Day’ open house service programs on Wednesdays and Thursdays and an outreach program dubbed ‘Klarex Nga Serbisyo Sa Baryo’ program also on Thursdays on selected barangays.
During his Tuesday flag-raising visits to barangay halls, Mayor Klarex would bring with him 500 food packs for indigent families in the area along with some City Hall department teams to deliver certain services to the residents there. It’s a sort of mini-outreach program, an ‘advance party’ sort of arrangement ahead of the ‘Klarex Nga Serbisyo Sa Baryo’ outreach program.
The two ‘People’s Day’ open house setup at the mayor’s office, in which Mayor Klarex will personally address concerns from visiting city residents will keep him busy for the whole day and thus outside appointments during these days would be quite tricky for his assistants (hi Ma’am Sheila Lumbatan) to schedule. And let’s not forget Mayor Klarex’s radio program on a local radio station where he also addresses concerns from visiting city residents and visitors.
According to my grapevine, there’s also this proposed Saturday radio program by the Klarex administration that also consists of responding to complaints or concerns by city residents that may or may not feature Mayor Klarex. So strictly speaking, that would be six days worth of delivering social services to Kagay-anons counting of course the radio program on Friday and the proposed radio program on Saturday.
Anyone who’s lived in Cagayan de Oro for at least the past decade or two would recall that this setup or style of governance harkens back to the days of two past mayors—the late Pablo ‘Ambing’ Magtajas to a certain extent but mostly similar to the late mayor and Misamis Oriental governor Vicente ‘Dongkoy’ Emano. And no surprise about the Emano influence since Mayor Klarex used to be one of Dongkoy’s most trusted allies before they parted ways in 2010.
To be fair, Mayor Klarex didn’t promise the sun, moon and stars when he ran and finally won the mayoral seat in this year’s elections. He explained in no uncertain terms that he isn’t a brilliant statesman type of leader, just a former barangay captain of the city’s most populous barangay of Carmen whose brand of governance is accessible public service to all. And to that end, Mayor Klarex is pushing all stops to deliver on his promise to the people of Cagayan de Oro.
By his own admission and self-assessment, it would thus be unfair to compare Mayor Klarex to his predecessor, former mayor Oscar Moreno, which even Moreno’s former city administrator Teddy Sabuga-a often pointed out. Both men have different styles of governance and due to his incumbency, I will focus my discussion on Mayor Klarex who at least agreed to keep some of Moreno’s people in key posts at City Hall.
To be sure, these officials whom Mayor Klarex labeled as department managers managed to keep City Hall on a stable course heading to the end of 2022 but expect them to be replaced as per reality of Philippine politics in which the incumbent leader gets to appoint his/her most trusted lieutenants in their administration. Case in point: the resignation of Commission on Audit (COA) official Jose Calida, a former subaltern of former president Rodrigo Duterte.
That said, I can only hope that Mayor Klarex surrounds himself with not only competent people of integrity and commitment to public service but political allies that can contribute well into actualizing his administration’s overarching goal of bringing City Hall closer to the people. Need I say something about the intrigues sown by his fiercest critics whose trolls are lambasting Mayor Klarex on social media?
I saw a Facebook post by someone who may or may not be a paid troll that juxtaposed two contradictory photos that may well illustrate the issues seen to hound the Klarex administration in the next three years: one photo showed the equipment allocated to City Hall’s disaster management department and the other photo showed heavy equipment positioned at a quarry site, referring to the Uy family’s quarrying/sand and gravel business.
The photos were labeled with the caption ‘Talk about irony.’ Talking about that at length without hearing the side of Mayor Klarex would be unfair so let’s leave it at that. As someone who covered Mayor Klarex in his early days as Carmen barangay captain to his ascent as first district congressman of Cagayan de Oro City, I am as invested as any Kagay-anon in wishing for his administration’s success.
I would like to believe that Mayor Klarex means well with his governance of the City of Golden Friendship and we just came out of this year’s elections so talk of politics should be set aside for now at least until 2024. Let’s see how he performs as local chief executive of Cagayan de Oro and determine if he deserves another three or even six years in office.
Effective, efficient and timely delivery of basic services to one’s constituents is to be expected from every local and nationally elected official and Mayor Klarex is no exception to that expectation held by every Filipino. But while it does win votes, I can only hope that, if given the opportunity to serve six more years, that Mayor Klarex grows beyond delivering social services to Kagay-anons and actually craft long-term programs that will empower and develop Cagayan de Oro City’s economic potential to the fullest. We need Mayor Klarex to grow into a visionary leader with the political will to make his vision for Cagayan de Oro City into a reality. A lofty expectation to be sure, but we can dream right?