Still beaming with smile despite a bout from flu, we visited the Mayor of San Pablo City Vic B. Amante in his simple but well appointed office inside the eight story new Capitol Building for a chat. As usual he is jolly in the exchanges of pleasantry with us over a cup of instant coffee. Occasionally he turns pensive and serious whenever we talk about his administration.
We showed him some statistics we gathered. The data are results of survey commissioned by one national political party, the other is by an aspiring candidate in the province of Laguna and the last was done by the national organization for what ever interest it has it is only known to the group. We thought he will be glad to see them.
We did not delve much on figures because (we did not expect it) the mayor is hesitant to accept the results of his public acceptability as a mayor reflected in the survey done in San Pablo City. According to him the percentage is shockingly too high. No past politician in the history of the Philippine ever had such high rating in term of popular acceptability. He rather prefers to feel in person by going around the satisfaction of his constituents in the manner he runs the city hall.
True he has established several annexes to the existing high schools of the city. Thousands graduated every year at a minimal cost to parents. These would be college students end up in Dalubhasaan ng Lunsod ng San Pablo another laudable pet project of Mayor Vic. The City subsidizes the college to provide tertiary education to poor students of the city. However, because of the quality education offered by the Dalubhasaan even the well of families are sending their kids to this school. The students from the suburban areas sad to say even cheat their residence just to be accommodated and be enrolled.
He stressed that in areas where private entrepreneur failed, refused or afraid to venture because of high risk and low profitability, the government must come in and invest to fill in the gap. That has been his policy ever since he enters the arena of politics. The reason why his low cost educational institutions came to being. The closure of services of a private school sparked the needs to save the dislocated student with no school to go.
Not only that, the high cost of getting ill compelled him too to increase the budget for health services. Always, medicines for common illness are available in the government health offices for the poor. For those in need of confinements the Indigency Office is ready to assist and shoulder the expenses of those who cannot afford to defray the high hospitalization cost. The disbursements ran to millions of pesos. The city suffers much. Yes the cost is high but the value of saving human lives is priceless. The gleams and beams from the eyes of parents or relatives whose kin was save from the edge of death cannot be equated by what ever the government may save in trying to hold back expenses for some meaningful endeavors.
The concept of city manages hospital after some accounting of expenditure cropped up from the imagination of the Mayor. The city should have one. He has now the blue print and bent on implementing the program. His emphasis is on his vision that no San Pablo or any one for that matter who is in San Pablo City must be deprived of medical services by reason of poverty.
Over the successes of his public service programs the Mayor has not the look of satisfaction. According to him still the local government is one of the biggest employers. He is looking forward for a better San Pablo where the private sectors have the greatest stake in providing livelihood or employments.
The modern land fills and waste segregation; the city latest venture may spark a new kind of business opportunities. True it is still in its infant stage but he believes in a thousand mile travel starts with a one small step. Little by little people will realize that there is money in many little endeavors. He is encouraging and supporting small but imaginative entrepreneur most likely those engage in agriculture base industries.
This is one of many ways according to him of bringing back to the mind and heart the dignity of industry and hard work. He refused to encourage mendicancy a strategy most scheming politicians employ to buy loyalty. They never want their place to progress to suppress immediately any threat to their own political and economic dynasties.
His program for small scale businesses drives the mayor to be more careful in allowing the invasion of giant malls like SM , Robinson, Rustan etc. He is prudent in trying to foresee the consequences of competitions between these corporate titans to the small local capitalists. Will he side with the consumers who can buy high quality goods from more efficiently manage establishments at a cheaper price or be protectionist of the local investors? His options are open but he refuses to rush his decisions. He is trying to balance the gains vis-Ã -vis the social malady brought about by changes. There could be in migration needing more infrastructures which may not be offset by the employment to be generated thus creating more problem than solution to present predicaments
In the final analysis he is very emphatic in saying he will feel fulfilled in his administration only if his Indigency Office became irrelevant, when the students are enrolled in Dalubhasaan ng Lunsod ng San Pablo and the great majority if not all of his constituents can afford to be confined in city hospital suites and not in crowded wards.
These are legacies he wants to leave to the people of San Pablo City. Tall order but doable according to him. He has only to be bold and decisive in pursuing his vision. He may or may not be able to complete these ambitious projects but it is his contention that somebody must start so that other has something to continue. TO START IS NOW. DO NOT DO FOR TOMORROW WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR TODAY FOR TOMORROW WILL NEVER COME UNLESS IT IS TODAY!!! We were surprise to hear such sensibility from a man besets by several cases from his detractors trying to put him down in vain. Are these detractors being fair to him and most especially to the people of San Pablo City who will be much, much benefited by his relentless efforts to pursue meaningful governance? (Sandy Belarmino VP SLPC)