Malabon’s pride
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - April 16, 2019 - 12:00am

Of the propaganda materials hogging our email address, one that impresses this columnist is the nature of concerns of Malabon City Mayor Antolin “Lenlen” Oreta III. 

I pick out the first true, not fake, declaration, as the improvement in the flood control program of the city. In the past the vehicle I was riding in would swim in flood waters in the city famous for its pancit Malabon. Since two years ago, when the rains came, there were no longer signs of main streets and barangays becoming swimming pools. This came about under the leadership of the mayor who with the Department of Public Works and Highways installed well-maintained pumping stations at flood gates. 

Senior citizens are the loneliest people in communities; retired from their jobs, or simply not having jobs at all, they feel useless and unloved even by kith and kin. But Mayor Oreta and his social welfare leaders have created the Senior Citizen Patrollers that make them feel useful and have a feeling of importance.

There’s the Senior Citizen Patrollers, in keeping with the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, Mayor Oreta launched a six-month employment program that provides employment opportunities for retirees or senior citizens. This is commendable, giving the elderly a sense of being useful in their communities. To date,  336 Malabonians aged 65 to 70 have been commissioned to aid in traffic flow control in 28 schools within the city. Each senior citizen patroller reports for work for two hours a day, two days a week. Two hundred fifty lolas and 86 lolos were assigned on roadsides along the gates of public elementary and high schools. They were chosen after the city department of health’s confirmation that they are fit to work, and their relatives’ consent. They underwent training by the public safety and traffic management office so they know how to organize traffic flow, enforce traffic rules and guide swift passage of pedestrians, mostly students. They receive compensation of P2,000 a month for their job. Already, hundreds of elderly applicants have lined up for the job when the present batch has finished their six months term.

Another program that the mayor is proud of but which other politicians may not be so keen about, is the “Karinderia para sa Kalusugan ni Chikiting”  or KKC, a 120-day feeding program launched last year in 21 barangays. It started with 514 underweight pre-school Malabonian kids as beneficiaries, ages 6 to 59 months, and two nutritionally at-risk pregnant mothers. Karinderias are involved in the program; with the city government’s P20 a day subsidy, they prepare a prescribed 30-day cycle “hot meal” menu which consists of meat, fruits and vegetables. 

Since Mayor Lenlen assumed office, the stunting rate among children has dropped by more than half – from 16.3 % in 2013 to 6.94% last year. The city government went the extra mile by providing the supplemental feeding program. 

Still there is the city’s program that has inmates in the city jail make use of their “free” time while in confinement. With training provided by TESDA, they bake pan de sal, pan de coco and Spanish breads, which in turn are marketed by Pandeladies – another livelihood program for young women, particularly solo-parents and teenage-moms. Wearing a uniform, the ladies place the breads in styrofoam boxes and sell them door-to-door via trolley cars.

The Pandeladies are provided with a P1,000 capital by the city to start them off as sellers of the jail inmates’ baked products. Last June, 20 ladies from barangays Catmon, Concepcion, Maysilo, Panghulo and Portrero were launched as the first batch of beneficiaries of this livelihood assistance program. They had undergone a thorough screening and orientation process conducted by the staff from the gender and development department. A hundred and thirty more beneficiaries are on the line to be dispatched under this impactful program.

Pandeladies is an extension of the “Pan de sal For Life” project conceived by the city nutrition action officer and mayor’s spouse, Melissa Sison-Oreta in cooperation with the Department of Labor, and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology. This was endorsed by the mayor to fulfil his advocacy for sustainable development and entrepreneurship.

Thanks for the unrelenting efforts of Mayor Lenlen, Malabon City was named by the Philippine National Police as having the lowest crime rate city in Metro Manila in 2017. The drop in the crime rate is attributed to the installation of streetlights in all streets in the city. The brightened streets are a big help in securing peace and order for city residents especially for those working at night.

Mayor Lenlen states with pride that his city is considered third among cities in Metro Manila with the highest number of barangays (nine of the total 21 or 43 percent) free from the proliferation of illegal drugs. This status citation given by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)’s Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Drugs (ICAD) was attributed to the local government’s unrelenting efforts to combat drugs, which is traced to the conception of its Malabon Araw sa Droga (MAD) battle cry.

The city was credited by PDEA for having the highest number of continuing preventive forums and education campaigns under its Drug Awareness and Consciousness Campaign facilitated by the City of Malabon Anti-Drug Abuse Council (CMADAC).  

The barangays declared free from illegal drug activities by the ICAD have no drug transit activities, clandestine drug laboratories and chemical warehouses, marijuana cultivation sites, drug dens, drug pushers and users.

It thus came as a surprise when President Duterte, at a proclamation rally, quipped that he would do something drastic if it did nothing to combat drug use in Malabon. The mayor has overcome his puzzlement at the president’s declaration, and holds his head high as he cites the ICAD’s declaration of many of the city’s barangays being drug-free. 

Lenlen’s political career started in 2007 as city councilor of Malabon. He was elected vice mayor in 2010, and served as acting mayor to replace the late Canuto Oreta, after he died of cancer in 2012. He was elected overwhelmingly when he ran for mayor in the next election. He is now running for his third and last term as mayor.

Lenlen is the second of four children of former Sen. Tessie Aquino Oreta and businessman Antolin Oreta Jr.

Born on Sept. 16, 1971, he attended Ateneo de Manila for his elementary and high school education. Then he worked for a bachelor’s degree in Japanese studies at Sophia University in Tokyo. He served as associate for Keppel Securities in 1995-1997, and assistant vice president dealer at Merrill Lynch. He also served as vice president for finance at Intra Strata Assurance Corp.

Lenlen wants to continue the legacy of his mother, the main author of the Early Childhood Care and Development Council (ECCD) Law.

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