Renato Tibon .
THE City of Gold as it is fondly called and varyingly acclaimed as the Gateway to Mindanao, the City of Golden Friendship and the River Rafting Capital of the Philippines, Cagayan de Oro is a highly urbanized chartered city with close to 700,000 inhabitants boosted by the influx of families moving in to new communities, modern subdivisions and condominium facilities dotting its landscapes since real estate development started in 1983.
Ideally located at the heart of Northern Mindanao divided by the great Cagayan River and classified as District 1 to the West and District 2 to the East, it is a melting pot of multi-ethnic and diverse cultures, prominent among them the presence of Muslim enclaves with conspicuous domes of Mosques and their children attending non-sectarian schools and prominent universities. It is equally home to many migrants who took up residence as workers or employees of multi-national companies or students of big colleges coming from neighboring provinces.
A burgeoning city of modern Malls, Cafes, high-rise hotels and condominiums with industry, commerce, trade, and tourism potentials, it is ranked among the Country’s Top Ten as most competitive, liveable and resilient cities. Surrounded by a breath-taking, panoramic terrain that’s an estate developer’s dream, from beaches to the verdant hills and mountains overlooking a tranquil Macajalar bay, it is veritably a portal through which the soul of the country’s second largest Island is laid bare.
We can sing paeans extoling the city’s inherent beauty, the friendliness of its people, its tourism appeal and economic advancement, yet, we feel, something’s lacking, flawed or not “hapsay”.
Long-time residents bewail perennial problems in traffic, flood, waste disposal, mismanaged public markets, unannounced outage of electric and water utilities and recurrent peace and order instability, all giving the city a black-eye, afflicting the city’s political, economic and social make up.
New and transient habitants are appalled at the utter neglect they see around the streets littered with carelessly thrown plastics and uncollected trash that are practically non-existent at major cities like Iloilo, Cebu and Davao.
Uncouth and ill-disciplined traffic enforcers are lording over choice shaded locations while vehicles are stuck at junctions with dysfunctional traffic lights. With lackadaisical enforcement of laws, it draws out instead apathy and cynical response from residents.
Even ease of doing business is still suspect because of delay in processing, steep costs in obtaining permits and licenses and the unreasonable high taxes imposed. These concerns are disquieting and belie whatever the city has gained through the awards it got over the years.
I say, all this negativity is unfair to the city. Since the time it attained a chartered city status, infrastructure programs, tourism initiatives, sound economic policies and the like were introduced by honest and strong-willed leaders whose ideas of government service were untainted by selfish interests. Now, the city is run by an administration facing corruption and mismanagement charges, cases that will keep focus away from serving their constituents, further arresting the city’s development and march to progress.
I say, Cagayan de Oro deserves better initiatives, better developmental programs, better implementation of laws and certainly better leaders. It all depends of course, on the people’s decision come election day.
Will Kagayanons hand power back to the same politicians with tired and unsound ideas of governance in exchange for perishable moolahs or will it be open to real change and install city-bred leaders with the heart and integrity of public servants?
I am endorsing therefore the candidacy of Mr. Performance himself, the dynamic and proven representative of District 2, Cagayan de Oro City, Rufus Bautista Rodriguez, a veteran fighter in Congress who vows to pass vital laws and to continue with his major infrastructure program particularly the extension of the present Coastal Bypass and J.R. Borja roads to the eastern side of the City, greatly reducing transport and travel time and easing off traffic in the city.
With determination, political will and vision, hallmarks of true leadership, he, along with the candidates of the CDP-Padayon political coalition, are what CDO rightly deserves.
(Renato Gica Tibon is a fellow of the Fellowship of the 300, an elite organization under Centrist Democracy Political Institute [CDPI] with focus on political technocracy. He holds both position as political action officer and program manager of the Institute. He is the former regional chairman for Region 10 and vice president for Mindanao of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines [CDP].)