ILOILO City – “No increase in taxes!”
Thus said Cong. Jerry P. Treñas when asked yesterday what he would do if elected city mayor on May 13. “I will freeze taxes on real property,” he told Panay News, “for three straight years.”
Immediately upon assumption of office until yearend on 2022, said Treñas, he would also declare a moratorium on business permits, percentage taxes and other fees payable to the city government.
“We have to spur economic development through business activities especially in these difficult times,” Treñas explained, “We have to elevate the city to the next uswag level.”
“Uswag Iloilo!” is the campaign battle cry of the congressman and now mayoral candidate, which in English is “Prosper Iloilo.”
“For the city to prosper,” Treñas said, “we have to keep the people healthy and well-equipped to earn a living. We have to build a hospital for the poor, upgrade our public markets to level up with the malls, complete drainage projects, build high-rise condominiums as relocation sites and build senior-citizen and youth centers.”
In fact, as congressman, he has already put up seven Youth Centers that cater to out-of-school youths, youths with disabilities and special needs, and target social problems like drug addiction and alcoholism.
Manned by trained volunteers supervised by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, these Youth Centers also extend practical skills training and counseling. These are also equipped with recreational and sports facilities.
The aforesaid are among the dreams that Treñas – known for walking his talk – would like to further materialize through “WHEELS” that would roll on his Uswag roadmap. Each letter in the acronym stands for an implementable program.
“W” would stress public welfare, safety, emergency response, effective drainage system, housing projects for the poor and traffic management.
“H” is for “Health and Sanitation” aimed at improving access to medical and dental services, properly maintained city toilets, potable water and sustained feeding program especially for children.
“E” is for education that would enhance assistance to public schools and daycare centers, upgrade the Iloilo City Community College (ICCC) and Technical Institute of Iloilo City (TIIC) and provide continuing education.
“E” mirrors the next mayor’s model of “Environmental management” that would rationalize the Iloilo Esplanade’s operation, improvement of all plazas and coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Department of Health (DOH).
“L” for “livelihood” means finding ways and means to provide employment and livelihood opportunities for the poor; and would find ways and means to intensify tourism and investment promotions; promote Iloilo City as meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions (MICE) capital; intensify programs for employment, entrepreneurship and livelihood trainings; and modernize slaughter house and public markets.
“S” caps Treñas’ idea of “Sustainability” aimed at the non-stop delivery of all government programs, projects, activities and services.
Most Iloilo City residents still remember that, before he became congressman for the first time in 2010, Treñas had served as councilor; and then for three terms as mayor from 2004 to 2010.
It was he who coined the slogan “Think Big! Think Iloilo!” in 1992.
In 2006, he visualized “Iloilo City: Premier City by 2015.” That vision has come true.
He said that at the rate it is growing, by the year 2028, with good governance Iloilo City would have inevitably gained national recognition as one of the “top three best urbanized cities in the country in terms of livability, competitiveness, viability and governance practice.”
“Leveling up,” Treñas said, “is necessary to cope with the higher cost of living. Where the people are poor, there’s an increase in criminality and social problems like drug abuse and prostitution.”
Incidentally, the seventh and latest survey of Random Access Consultants (RACI) done on March 30 and 31, 2019 among 600 residents of 60 barangays showed Treñas surging ahead with a 63.8 percent majority over opponents Mayor Jose Espinosa III with 26.7 percent; Pacita Gonzalez, 6.3 percent; Mel Carreon, 1.7 percent; Efren Gimeo, 0.5; Steve Abitang, 0.3; and Rudy Bantolo, 0.3./PN