By Jhon Louie B Sabal

Candidates for Cagayan de Oro City’s top post presented their respective platforms and plans before the AB Economics and BS Business Economics students of Xavier University in the recently concluded 6th Coffeenomics Series held at the Museo de Oro grounds.

The event was held as part of the XU Economics Week Celebration with the theme “Principal-Agent Challenges in Economics: Reconciling Public Interest and Political Agenda in Cagayan de Oro City.”

“Xavier is supportive of such discussions and we hope that we can really enlighten our students to take their duty and right as citizens and exercise it in the best possible way,” XU president Fr Roberto Yap SJ said. He encouraged students to be “principled partisan,” to support a candidate who promotes social justice for the advancement of the common good.

Addressing local issues

The mayoral bets did not face off but were invited to talk about their platforms separately, each headlining one session of the Coffeenomics Series. They were asked about their proposals to address some of the major issues in the city.

On informal settlers

Former Mayor Vicente Emano couldn’t make it to the event because of a prior commitment, but he was represented by erstwhile City Councilor Ian Mark Nacaya. Nacaya touted the Piso-Piso Program for enabling the poor and homeless to have their own housing lots for only P1. The program, which their party plans to continue should Emano win, will facilitate the establishment of various resettlement sites across the city, Nacaya said.

On the contrary, incumbent Mayor Oscar Moreno of the Liberal Party criticized the Piso-Piso Program of Emano because he thinks it is designed to “control people.” Moreno emphasized the developments in localized housing being initiated by his administration for the past three years and said that he will distribute land titles to the beneficiaries of the Piso-Piso Program.

For Second District Representative Congressman Rufus Rodriguez, the problem of the growing informal settler in the city is linked closely with unemployment. He plans to address unemployment by setting up a one-stop shop to ease the process of acquiring business permits. As well, he said that his administration will implement “progressive taxation” to make sure that the wealthy get to have a bigger share in taxes. Rodriguez also bared plans for the city government to pay for 90% of the land for the informal sector, alongside providing funding for livelihood programs such as handicrafts and rug making.

On traffic woes

Rodriguez plans to form the Traffic Advisory Council to create a multi-sectoral solution to the problem of worsening traffic in the city. He is proposing to tap the barangay tanods and raise their monthly honorarium by P1,000. He urged the civil society groups’ support to help the Road and Traffic Administration (RTA) and barangay tanods.

The construction of new bridges and rural highways is on the agenda of Emano’s team should he be able to mount a successful comeback. Nacaya said these are the Pelaez Bridge, South Diversion Road, Kagay-an Bridge, Puntod-Kauswagan Bridge and 17 other rural bridges, and two fly-overs in the city.

Moreno sees “honest-to-goodness policy implementation” as solution and plans to continue the Hapsay Dalan campaign if re-elected as mayor.

On the environment

The incumbent mayor called the non-approval of the present city council of the budget for the rehabilitation of the Zayas landfill as a form of “political bondage,” but he is confident that the proposed closure of the dumpsite will finally be realized if candidates for the city council from his ticket will be elected.

However, Moreno took pride in having a stronger City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council under his administration. New equipment, such as including early warning devices have been installed in disaster-prone areas.

Rodriguez, too, said that he would empower the local DRRM council and declare CDO as a mining-free and log-ban zone to help mitigate disasters in the region.

On health issues

Moreno presented the development of the JR Borja Hospital under his term. He said that the City Hospital is already earning up to P120 million compared to P10 million before he was seated as mayor. He also plans to expand the Philhealth coverage in the city, emphasizing that under his term, 45 health centers have been accredited under the maternal health package. He is planning to add 6 more if re-elected.

Rodriguez intends to “nationalize” the City Hospital so that funding can be outsourced from the annual budget of the Department of Health. He also plans to double the capacity of the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) by improving its equipment and to establish hospitals in Tablon and Lumbia to cater to the needs of constituents from far-flung barangays.

Meanwhile, Nacaya said that in order for our hospitals to grow in number, the emphasis must be in attracting investors.

Students’ questions

Each of the candidates was asked questions by XU students and some faculty members.

One of them is on Moreno’s dismissal as mayor in line with the Ajinomoto tax adjustment fiasco earlier this year. He claimed that what happened was a misunderstanding of the initiative to make tax collection and income generation in the city comprehensive. He acknowledged the efforts of city treasurer Glenn Bañez, who was also included in the dismissal order. When asked to rate his performance as mayor, Moreno replied that the answer lies in the people. What he knows is that he did his best as mayor for three years.

Rodriguez was asked to comment on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, which he said is “already dead and waiting for whatever plans of the new president.” He clarified that there are provisions in the BBL that are unconstitutional and need to be revised and amended. Rodriguez said he will support any move for the resumption of peace talks with the National Democratic Front.

Emano’s health condition and whether he will be healthy enough to actively campaign and serve should he win confronted Nacaya who assured the students that the former mayor is in good shape to govern the city.

Nacaya also shared Emano’s plans to negotiate for Build-Operate-Transfer projects that will redevelop Carmen and Cogon markets and the City Abattoir. In addition, he said that they plan to revive the Divisoria Night Café.

Below is the summary.

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with photos from XU Department of Economics Facebook page

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