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HomeTourismHistoryOn the ‘People’s Day’ of Mayor Klarex

On the ‘People’s Day’ of Mayor Klarex

ROCKINGHAM,  North Carolina—In between some vacation with family and friends I’ve been monitoring the national and local news and one item piqued my interest.

Namely, it’s Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Rolando ‘Klarex’ Uy’s pledge to hold a two-day ‘People’s Day (Adlaw Alang sa Katawhan) in which he will meet with his constituents at his office to address their concerns starting next week.  It’s unoriginal to be sure—the late president Ramon Magsaysay opened the doors of Malacanang to the poor—but I have to admire the mayor’s intentions to be ‘closer to the people’ as he put it by meeting them up close and personal.

Not long after, I’ve heard from the grapevine that some of his staff are being flooded with requests for free medicines, free medical services, free processing of birth certificates, scholarships, etc. Already there are comparisons being drawn between him and his former ally, the late mayor Vicente Emano who also had this practice of meeting people at his office in some days of the week.

Then again, we have to realize that it’s been two years into the COVID-19 pandemic and the most frequent complaint and concern by Kagay-anons had been ‘ayuda (assistance) or to be blunt, doleouts.  That’s something that Klarex’s predecessor, former mayor Oscar Moreno, had been hounded with at the onset of the pandemic by his bashers and political foes and was used as a propaganda tool to great effect in the past elections.

In contrast to Moreno’s emphasis on the city’s health care system, Klarex can be seen being kept busy sending food aid and water not only to his constituents in the city’s first district during his time as congressman but also to city residents in the second district.  And after winning this year’s mayoral contest, Klarex is determined to pursue his populist agenda by offering incentives to the city residents as reflected in his inaugural speech.

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From offering food aid to augment the city’s garbage collection to promising food aid to those seniors in exchange for getting vaccinated, Klarex is certainly not having any hesitation when it comes to giving assistance.  Since his days as a barangay captain of Carmen, the most populated village in Cagayan de Oro City, Klarex’s generosity is both laudable and concerning.

Recently I learned that he gave some cash to police officers whose performance was above par and while I won’t begrudge these cops of their reward,  the fact that the police were already granted salary hikes by former president Rodrigo Duterte should put some perspective on why incentives need not be the sole motivation in expecting quality service from our public servants.

So here we are with the ‘People’s Day’ or ‘Adlaw Alang Sa Katawhan’ and how the staff of Mayor Klarex would handle the gargantuan task of addressing the concerns of the ‘kabus’ (indigent/poor)—since we can reasonably expect that they will constitute the bulk of those that will head to the mayor’s office on Wednesdays and Thursdays which Klarex scheduled for them—would be quite the logistical and organizational nightmare at least within the first few weeks.

Coincidentally or not, the mayor also scheduled a Friday radio program in which he will also address the public’s concerns similar to the ‘Isumbong Mo Kay Tulfo’ TV program by now Social Welfare Secretary Erwin Tulfo.  These two populist initiatives would be a great help no doubt but as to whether this will only result in increased mendicancy and dependence among Kagay-anons on government services is something to be seen in the next few years.

Then again, the Universal Health Care Act which seeks to expand the national government’s health care services to the Filipino people is something of a ‘crutch’ that may foster a state of dependence among the poor even if part of that law is also geared towards encouraging preventive health care. The Klarex administration is said to be committed to implementing the Universal Health Care Act but how to balance it with the demands of assistance by constituents—well, we have to wait and see.

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That said, I still think the ‘People’s Day’ would be a great idea that can be translated into a sustainable program if calibrated and implemented well and it may not even rely on Mayor Klarex’s presence for it to succeed.  Pardon my imaginative mind, but I see this program as something of a political gambit that can work well for Klarex in his re-election bid of 2025.

That said, I would reserve my assessment of the ‘People’s Day’ at least until the first few weeks of implementation.  For now, let’s set aside whatever reservations and ask the public, the Kagay-anons, to support this if only for their benefit.

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