ILOILO City – Today, the first day of the period for the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the May 2019 midterm elections, Mayor Jose Espinosa III and his line-up are sending out a clear message to all: their group is organized, well-oiled and strong.
After hearing a 6 a.m. mass at the San Jose Parish Church, Plaza Libertad, Espinosa’s group will march to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) office at the Iloilo Terminal Market.
“I am more than ready to face a new mandate this 2019 if given the chance by the people of Iloilo City. I have shown my brand of public service devoid of corruption or dirty politics,” said Espinosa yesterday.
Espinosa’s line-up is composed of veteran public servants. His tandem for congresswoman is former city councilor Perla Zulueta, a feisty anti-graft crusader in the Sangguniang Panlungsod, while his vice mayoral running mate is Councilor R Leone Gerochi.
His confirmed candidates for city councilor are incumbent Eduardo Peñaredondo, Candice Magdalene Tupas, Mandrie Malabor, Lyndon Acap, and Leizl Joy Zulueta-Salazar, and former councilor Rodel Fullon-Agado.
Espinosa and his line-up are running under the Nacionalista Party led by Sen. Cynthia Villar, an ally of President Rodrigo Duterte.
At least 5,000 supporters are expected to join Espinosa and his line-up march from Plaza Libertad to the city Comelec office.
Elected vice mayor in the 2016 elections, Espinosa became the city mayor beginning October 2017 by operation of law after then mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog was dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman for ill-gotten wealth.
“I sat as city mayor last Oct. 30, 2017 with a humble heart, knowing that this overwhelming opportunity should be faced with sincere commitment and transparency,” said Espinosa.
In less than a year, he was able to implement a flagship program – the community outreach called “Pag-ulikid sang Syudad.”
“This is my brand of leadership and public service,” said Espinosa who is running against “graduating” congressman Jerry Treñas.
“Pag-ulikid” brings the city government’s frontline services direct to the villages. It includes free health check-up, legal consultation and distribution of sports equipment to the youth sector and wheelchairs and canes to senior citizens and persons with disabilities.
A first of its kind in the city, according to Espinosa, this program was conceptualized to make it easy for residents to avail themselves of government services, especially those who find it difficult to go to the city hall.
“Public service is always about people, not politicians. I have stressed the importance of the ‘Pag-ulikid’ program to all city government department heads and employees and they are one with me in embracing this brand of service,” said Espinosa.
So far, “Pag-ulikid” has visited 55 barangays and served over 70,000 residents.
The program targets to cover all 180 barangays of Iloilo City.
Meanwhile, the city government has been harvesting national and regional awards since 2017 under Espinosa’s watch. Among these are the following:
- 1st Place, Highly-Urbanized Cities – Most Improved Local Government Unit (LGU) 2018 Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index Awards, during the 6th Regional Competitiveness Summit by the Department of Trade Industry at the Philippine International Convention Center, Aug. 16, 2018
- Most Bike-Friendly City in the Philippines – by Phil-Bike Awards 2018 at World Trade Center Manila, Sept. 9, 2018
- 2nd Runner-Up, Outstanding LGU Highly-Urbanized City Category – 2018 National Literacy Awards by the Department of Education
- Finalist, 2018 Galing Pook Awards, for Iloilo-Batiano River Development Project, by the Galing Pook Foundation
- Clean Air City Award 2017 / Clean Air Champion, by the Clean Air Philippines, at the Iloilo Convention Center, Nov. 29, 2017
- 2017 Seal of Good Housekeeping, by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)
- Finalist, 2017 Most Business-Friendly LGU Awards, Level 1 Category, by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry
- Best Performing City in Western Visayas – 2017 Excellence in Local Governance (EXCELL) Awards, by the DILG
- Champion – Excellence in Environmental Governance, Regional EXCELL Awards for 2017, by the DILG
- 2017 Seal of Child-friendly Local Governance with the highest score of 98 percent in Western Visayas, by the Council for Welfare of Children
- Filariasis-Free City in Region 6 in 2016 and 2017, by the Department of Health (DOH)
- Most Outstanding Local Government Unit, Highly-Urbanized City Category – 2016 Western Visayas Local Health Systems Award, by DOH
- Top-Performing City – National Tuberculosis Program in 2016, by DOH
- 1st Runner-up, Excellence in Administrative, Social and Economic Governance – Regional EXCELL Awards 2017 by DILG/PN