Score card
DEMAND AND SUPPLY - Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) - May 20, 2019 - 12:00am

There had been a lot of cheers in social media for two of the winners in LGU contests in Metro Manila. Vico Sotto in Pasig and Isko Moreno in Manila were seen as Davids winning against political Goliaths.

Isko defeated no less than a former president, Erap Estrada, for control of Manila. Vico defeated a political dynasty that had been entrenched in Pasig for almost three decades.

The surveys showed Isko leading over Erap. Indeed, he was leading over one other former Manila Mayor, Alfredo Lim. It has to be more than youth and good looks to win over these two political heavyweights.

I was amused by some observations in social media pushing Vico and Isko as potential presidential candidates, less than 24 hours after they were elected mayors. They have to prove themselves first.

Vico, in particular, has so much to prove because he is seen as young and idealistic, inexperienced in the way of our dirty politics. Many people saw him as the anti-politician… the one who will give the citizens of Pasig reasons to trust their local government again.

Vico seems to have imbibed the “man for others” attitude of the Jesuits in Ateneo where he studied. He has also been active in the youth ministry of Victory Christian Fellowship since he was a kid. The values of the group will make it difficult, if not impossible for him to be a typical corrupt politician.

Best of all, Vico has a plan. He vowed that once elected, he would address the disparity of wealth between the east and west parts. Pasig currently has a P10.7 billion budget—a figure, he says, is among the largest in the country.

“The east side of Pasig is a whole different city. There’s really a disparity of wealth,” Vico told ANCX. “The use of resources is questionable. Most of the programs are geared toward short term dole outs, there are no long-term anti-poverty plans.”

To kick-start, Vico wants to allocate a fraction of the budget to implement universal healthcare. He told ANCX he would enable even private hospitals to provide free medicine and laboratory examinations for patients.

He is right. He doesn’t even have to reinvent the wheel. That’s what Makati residents are enjoying now. Makati may have more money than Pasig, but Pasig shouldn’t be too far behind.

Vico wants to cut down on infrastructure spending, as hundreds of millions (if not billions) are currently being spent on public works like among others, sports centers. Vico also thinks informal settlers of Pasig deserve better. He will also work to improve traffic conditions.

President Duterte has called Pasig drug infested. Vico plans to address that too, in a way that deviates from the usual Duterte approach.

He told ANCX: “As mayor, I would focus on the demand side, create rehab centers and drug testing facilities, which are all part of the Universal Health Care program that I’m forwarding.”

As for Isko, Business World columnist Andrew Masigan called him the candidate with a plan. When Andrew interviewed Isko before the elections, he impressed the BW columnist with his plans for the city of Manila.

Isko, on the other hand, offers no quick fix solutions. He admits that it would take 15 years to bring the city at par with the likes of Pasig. He is committed, however, to lay the foundation of urban renewal from day one.

Isko told Andrew that at the heart of his urban renewal plan are three pillars: Infrastructure development, attracting businesses and urban housing.

As a former “squatter” during his childhood years in Tondo, Isko has prioritized building vertical mass housing complexes to maximize available land. He wants people to live near where they work or go to school. He doesn’t want relocation to outlaying provinces.

Isko wants to re-purpose the 12-hectare Pandacan oil depot that is strategically facing the Pasig river. Through a joint venture or PPP arrangement with the oil companies, Isko proposes to build a new CBD called the Pandacan Greenfield City.

He is thinking of a skydeck and pedestrian skywalk to connect the planetarium in Luneta to Liwasang Bonifacio and onwards to Escolta. This will mark the urban renewal of the old town.

The idea is to convert Escolta into a retail and entertainment hub similar to Clark Quay in Singapore. Owners of buildings in Binondo will be given a 10-year property tax holiday should they renovate or rebuild.

There is one more hopeful note. Isko said he would stop the plan of Erap to convert the Arroceros mini forest into a sports gym. Manila badly needs more, not less, trees to alleviate the impact of pollution on the well-being of people.

So far those are broad strokes. Vico and Isko need a scorecard so citizens can grade their performance regularly. On one side are the objectives or promises. On the other side is the graded progress on a range of zero to 10. A qualitative section explaining why progress is good or not as fast would be helpful.

Vico should go back to Ateneo and ask Ronald Mendoza of the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG) to help him prepare a score card to monitor his progress.

It shouldn’t be too different from a project he did for ASOG that “promoted good governance and encouraged citizens to join and monitor projects done by the government,” as he explained to the Manila Times in March 2016.

That Times story recalled that ASOG project immersed Vico in civil society work, an experience he said he is proud of. He can put all that into practice now as Pasig mayor.

These are very early days. For now, they should mind their back. Political dynasties don’t usually know how to lose gracefully. The reluctance to concede despite the large margin should be taken as a warning.

Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is Follow him on Twitter @boochanco

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