By URIEL C. QUILINGUING, Contributing Editor .
MEASURES intended to attract investments, create jobs and livelihood opportunities, extend assistance to farmers, provide access to health services, skills development and free education were common in the political platforms of aspirants for Cagayan de Oro’s 16-seat legislative council.
These poverty-related concerns surfaced during Tuesday’s Commission on Election-sanctioned Pag-ila Candidates’ Forum for the 49 city council candidates at Xavier University Little Theater that a nonpartisan network, Lihuk 2019 Movement, organized.
“We must find ways to attract investors. More investments mean more jobs and once there are many jobs, there will be more food then we will have stable families,” said first-district city councilor George Goking, who is seeking reelection in the May 13 elections.
Goking, who was one of the 30 candidates in the forum and from the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, said the city must create a climate conducive to business, the environment must never be sacrificed and consumers’ welfare and protection ignored.
Official list from the Commission on Elections show 49 filed their certificates of candidacy for the City Council.
But independent city council seat seeker Celso Bag-ao, who took cognizance of the paved roads that now connect the city proper with the remotest upland villages, yet opined that these (roads) are useless if there’s no farm produce just because farmers are left on their own.
Farmers, candidate Moreno Daba III said, must be provided with the services of a field school so that they learn proper farming techniques, aside from farm inputs and implements. Coastal residents engaged in fishing should be taught how to maintain fish cages to improve their fish catch.
Reelectionist councilor Jay Pascual, a grandson of the late former mayor Pedro Roa, said farm tourism may also be promoted to augment farmers income since tourists now, with the paved roads, have access to the upland farming areas.
Pascual, who served as village chief of Tignapoloan, said he would continue to lobby for speedy processing of ancestral domain claims and in the issuance of land titles to members of indigenous people.
Former land transportation, franchising and regulatory board regional director Mandangan Darimbang, now aspiring to become city councilor, said farmers must adopt modern farming technologies to keep farm productivity.
Darimbang also proposed for the establishment of buying stations for agricultural produce so that farmers need not bring down their harvests by themselves.
Independent candidate Jerry Sabanal said farmers must be provided with irrigation and market support.
Radio commentator turned politician Zaldy Ocon, now seeking his third and final term, said land titling in the hinterlands must be pursued even if claims and rights are often questionable since many claimants have already sold the lands.
When a common question was raised, on what law or laws the city council should enact to ensure food security and self-sufficiency, Ocon said only Congress can enact a law and the city council does not have that responsibility.
In fact, Ocon, who is seeking his third and last term, said in the vernacular there there is no need for changes since everything have changed and what is left is to pursue and improved what has been done.
Nixon Baban, another independent candidate, said he would author an ordinance for the adoption of Cagayanon first policy at City Hall when it comes to personnel hiring.
Baban said the ordinance governing the management of public markets should be revisited so that the city government can make up its mind whether she is constructing a public market or a mall.
Meanwhile, Suzette Magtajas-Daba, pointed out that the current city administration consider education as the long-term solution to poverty, hence some 2,500 have been enrolled on various short-term skills development courses at the City Technical Vocational Institute.
Daba said the local ruling party’s bias for education is clearly manifested by the construction of multi-classroom school buildings.
But Rhona Canoy, daughter of former mayor Reuben Canoy who is on her campaign trail for the city council, urged other candidates and those present in the forum to think outside the box, that what is essential is not the impressive building structure but what is happening inside the classroom.
Canoy, who is under the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, said education is the foundation for anybody who wish to improve quality of life.
Her co-party mate, also as city council hopeful, Mary Ann Fernandez said she would enact laws that can create livelihood and job opportunities so every skilled individuals and college graduates must not be jobless.
Agnes Paulita Roa, who is seeking mandate under Padayon Pilipino local party, said she would “revive” tourism in Cagayan de Oro since the city has, for sometime now, become a jump-off point for foreign and local visitors to Camiguin and Bukidnon.
Another common question was on public market management and this was what incumbent councilor Ma. Lourdes Gaane, who is up for fresh mandate, said bigger space should be given for the ambulant vendors.
For this, former Nazareth barangay chairperson Jocelyn Rodriguez warned law enforcers who wish to clear the streets from ambulant vendors that they should be treated humanely and their goods they were selling should never be seized and thrown as garbage.
Xavier University’s advocacy director Nestor Banuag Jr., who is the local chairperson of the National Movement for Free Elections and main convenor of Lihuk (Lambigit Igsoon para sa Hiniusang Pag-uswag sa atong Katilingban), together with Lihuk secretariat head Dianne Kristie Anislag facilitated the forum.
Candidates fora for candidates for district representatives and city mayors/city vice mayors, also to be held at XU Little Theater, are set tomorrow, and April 30, respectively.