Renato Tibon .
“You’re not just voting for an individual, in my judgment, you’re voting for an agenda. You’re voting for a platform. You’re voting for a political philosophy.” (Colin Powell, American Statesman and former US Secretary of State)
IT is difficult to separate the man from his work. In surveys and random conversation with those in the know, the name Rufus Rodriguez is synonymous to congressional performance so that concreted roads, pathways, pedestrian overpasses and conspicuous infrastructures around Cagayan de Oro City are casually attributed to him. No wonder he got a very high Voters’ Preference for Congressman rating in the recent XU-Kuro (Xavier University – Kinaadman University Research Office) Survey results conducted from April 4 to 11, 2019 with Rodriguez getting 59.2 percent, a convincing and significant margin of 40 percent over his nearest rival, Alam Lim at 19.4 percent. Other independent surveys showed him on top of the list with similar high percentage consistency. Clearly, these affirmations are not just for the individual as much as for Congressman Rufus B. Rodriguez’s achievements that resonate in the people’s minds. For District 2 constituents, he is Daddy RR to the youth sector especially among his scholars in different colleges and universities in the City and Mr. Performance, not just to his supporters but to all City residents who directly and indirectly continue to benefit from his work.
A political agenda is generally formed from social issues affecting a community. People expect their elected leaders to deliver on their promises when they were still candidates. In the absence of a political party affiliation, these wannabes offer themselves with motherhood manifestos and soapbox lines that don’t reflect the people’s agenda. Thus, many of them failed on their bid to convince voters and get elected. Candidates with political parties have the distinct advantage of knowing their members and constituents’ demands and aggregate them to form policies and programs which they can legislate and implement when they are in position. Congressman Rufus Rodriguez had this distinct advantage and succeeded to deliver what the people truly aspire for: buildings and classrooms plus scholarships to enhance Education; increased hospital bed capacity at NMMC plus more Barangay Health centers to bring basic healthcare services closer to people; infrastructure such as roads, bridges and highways to facilitate movement of goods and ease urban traffic; funds sourced out from responsible government agencies and private partnerships for employment and livelihood projects such as Worker’s Income Augmentation program, Special Program for the Employment of Students and Tulong Pangkabuhayan for displaced workers (TUPAD); funds to enhance Agricultural productivity such as purchase of tractors, livestock and seeds for farmers and fish cages, fishing boats and fishing nets for fishermen and the construction of vital farm to market roads to bring the products expeditiously to consumers; and funds for environmental protection such as tree planting programs and construction of roads leading to tourism sites. These and other national laws with local applications were enacted during the three-term period of Congressman Rufus.
In the same survey conducted by XU-Kuro, employment and livelihood as economic issues came out on top, followed by peace and order concerns such as proliferation of illegal drugs exacerbating worsening criminal activities, illegal parking along main thoroughfares and highways causing traffic jams despite the availability of numerous albeit dysfunctional traffic lights and ill-trained RTA personnel. Rounding off other community concerns are feeble delivery of basic services such as clogged drainage and canals contributing to urban floods, lack of water supply and roads in the hinterlands, problems in local governance such as city-level and barangay-level corruption, inconsistent implementation of barangay ordinances and environmental issues such as ineffective garbage disposal, and neglect in sanitation and river and creek cleanliness. These are the apprehensions of ordinary kagayanons reached by the surveys but are generally reflective of the sentiments of the people of Cagayan de Oro.
As the City’s Representative in District 2 for nine consecutive years (2007-2016), Congressman Rufus Rodriguez is acutely aware of what the City lacks in terms of health, education, employment, dwelling, infrastructure and other basic services cited in the surveys. Thus, it was easy enough for him to breeze through and articulate his political plans during the PAG-ILA forum on congressional candidates’ platforms held recently at Xavier University and sponsored by the school, Lihuk and other private institutions. Despite the conspicuous absence of candidate Alam Lim, the forum was able to elicit response from the candidates present and draw out reactions from the audience. Without any doubt, Cagayan de Oro needs a most articulate, competent and experienced legislator in the person of Congressman Rufus Rodriguez.
Jesuit educated, Congressman Rufus’s idealism hews close to the Centrist’s advocacy of heeding the call to help the poor and marginalized sectors of society and upholding the core value of human dignity. His political philosophy is thus anchored on HEED – Health, Education, Employment, Dwelling and infrastructure development to address the most basic concerns of his constituents. Anyone who has seen him debating on the floor, gesturing, arguing and winning his point with a booming voice matched only by the integrity of his convictions would agree, he is our man in Congress. Congressman Rufus Bautista Rodriguez – Representative, District 2 Cagayan de Oro City.
(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].)