13 THOUSAND JOB SEEKERS

A whooping 13,000 applicants vying for jobs with the local government of Muntinlupa……  and judging by the manner in which they have responded, JRF’s team got caught with their pants down.

The fact that the previous administration did everything they can to make Mayor Fresnedi’s life as hellish as ever for the next 3 years, in so many ways ranging from the most petty such as unattended garbage at Pacwood compound (which until now is wreaking havoc to the noses of residents at Villa Carolina and nearby areas), to the more important such as leaving the city’s treasury bare and debts amounting to hundred millions of pesos, has literally escaped the consciousness of many Muntinlupenos.

One of the most evident anomalies in local governance is that in an election year, the mayor-elect assumes office in July, 6 months after the current budget has been in operation, a not that serious of a concern if the outgoing and incoming mayors are from the same political party which is more often not the case.

JRF did not run for mayor blindly, he knows what and who he went up against and surely is aware that the next 3 years would not be a walk in the park.  But for whatever reason, the magnitude of the mess that he inherited boggles the mind of even the more simpletons amongst us.

For the next 6 months, this administration is left holding the bag empty as it is which brings us to the question of – where is the money?

INTERNAL REVENUE ALLOTMENT (IRA)

The Internal Revenue Allotment or IRA will continue to be a dependable source of funds. This is our share from the national government released every quarter of the year (still close to 40% of 300 million plus).

TAX AMNESTIES

Already a work in progress based on recent pronouncements from City Hall, covering tax amnesty for real property tax and business permit taxes and fees due to the local government. This measure would need a City Council resolution or ordinance declaring the amnesty and duration. Score 1 for JRF

LOCAL GOVERNMENT BONDS

Ra 7160 authorizes the City Government to float bonds as an alternate source of funds. These can be offered to civic-minded but wealthy individuals, groups or corporations. These are short or long-term instruments of indebtedness that the present administration should not ignore.

PRIVATE-PUBLIC PARTNERSHIPS (3Ps)

3Ps need not be in multi-million peso projects. Experience in many developing countries show partnerships between the private and public sector are successful in even simple barangay-based projects.

ECONOMIC ENTERPRISES

Economic enterprises are LGU- administered facilities where services that require direct payments for its use – samples of which are public markets, satellite public markets, transport terminals and more recently as a growing trend in many LGUs – local hospitals.

Quality health and medical care is not a monopoly of privately-owned hospitals in terms of personnel, services and equipment. Many public hospitals now offer medical services for those with money and are charged accordingly but still at competitive rates.

There are many others such restructuring of the loans from DBP and LBP, these initiatives can be acted upon by JRF’s team now that cash flow is a serious concern and being espoused now and again by those who are supposedly in the know as one of the major reasons for the difficulties facing JRF and his team.

At the end of the day what is important is that the administration comes up with a rational response to the number of mumblings heard all around. Politics in the Philippines has always been one of patronage, whom-you-know and not what-you-know.

We can’t blame the administration for giving priority to loyal supporters using its own particular brand of patronage as its yardstick to measure who gets what first, but come to think of it, even these supporters themselves have their own perceptions and tools to measure the corresponding response of the present occupants of City Hall and anything that deviates from these even though how small can be treated as an outright let-down.

The word on the street nowadays is that even known Aldrin supporters were able to squeak past through the cordon of yellow guardsmen in the run up for positions at City Hall.

Blood is thicker than water others would say, but in this case blood is indeed thicker than politics.

City Hall Down!

White House Down the upcoming movie with Channing Tatum and Jaymie Fox as lead actors is all about the fall of America’s seat of power from terrorists – the White House.

In a similar sense, Muntinlupa City Hall is the seat of power and authority for this bustling metropolitan city. The torch of leadership will pass on from outgoing Mayor San Pedro to Mayor-elect Jaime Fresnedi in a few more days.

Not only is San Pedro relinquishing the position of mayor to JRF, but more evidently, a HUGE AMOUNT OF PROBLEMS that a lesser man would shun away from and as if this is not enough, San Pedro and his cohorts are so obsessed in making JRF’s life so miserable that nothing is too small for them.

Schools and other academic institutions operated by the local school boards are left to fend for themselves. Garbage collection is at its worst as well as services at Ospital ng Muntinlupa (never been great to begin with), to name a few.

Public service has gone to the dogs. This is the legacy that San Pedro wants people to remember him by, undeniably committed by his loyal subalterns of which he is fully aware and cannot escape from.

Public service that we Muntinlupenos already paid for in the form of taxes that San Pedro’s administration has continually heaped on us in connivance with his puppets at the City Council led by his mutt, Vice Mayor Comedian.

Aldrin San Pedro, you should be ashamed of yourself. Regardless of the truth or falsity of the allegations thrown at you by the government’s star witness, what the people of Muntinlupa is now seeing does not speak well of a person who has occupied the top most position in the city for 6 years.

City Hall is down for the count and fortunately only for a few more days.

Good riddance Mr. San Pedro and if there is still a little decency left in you, can you do the world a favor by relocating from Muntinlupa? Any other city or municipality would be very lucky to have you.

What goes around comes around they say and …..

Karma is a bitch.

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JRF, what’s on your mind?

Seriously nobody knows for sure.

Amidst all the excitement of the coming inauguration and oath-taking ceremonies a week from today, foremost question in everybody’s mind would be what is going through Mayor Fresnedi’s head. Let us speculate:

Thoughts about people his predecessor’s. What to do with employees who will be found involved in the malfeasances, misappropriations, and other lapses of judgment during the previous administration and punishable under pertinent laws; MANY WHO DIDN’T WAIT FOR THE AXE TO FALL ALREADY RESIGNED THEIR APPOINTMENTS. JRF: Do I go after them? Make them accountable?

His own – What to do with the thousands of supporters who have asked for opportunities to get employed at City Hall (career, co-terminus, contractual or casual). Not to mention those who themselves committed abuses (perceived or otherwise) during his previous 9-year term. JRF: Do I bring them back? Who is best for the job?

Thoughts about MONEY – half of the year gone, it is not hard to surmise that half of this year’s budget is already spent, but as fate would have it, nothing was spared in the last 45 days after the elections. If a rumor going around is to be trusted, even the budget (more probably MOOE) for the next 6 months was not even spared. JRF: Where is the money? How can we raise more?

Thoughts about pROPERTIES – how much office equipment is now gone? Do I order an inventory of all assets undertaken? Aldrin San Pedro as outgoing city chief executive is entitled to a sum of money as separation pay and guess what? Mayor Fresnedi is the only official authorized to finally approve ASP’s clearance from all money and property accountabilities. JRF: Do I clear him of any accountability? File cases?

Thoughts about pOLICIES his predecessor’s. For sure any policy issued through executive fiat not consistent with good governance shall be revoked or rescinded. How about those issued by the City Council? The opposing camp has the majority including the vice mayor. JRF: Will it be a tug-of-war? Push and shove? How do I get the cooperation of the Sanggunian Panglunsod who with the exception of the first-time kagawads are respondents to the graft and corruption cases filed by an insider who is now a witness for the government?

Quite a lot for just any one man to carry on his shoulders and on top of all the mess that the previous administration is hell-bent on dumping on his head… which led me to recall Leroy Eimes take on what is a leader and I quote:

“A leader is one who sees more than others see who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others see.” — Leroy Eimes

 MAYOR JRF, IKAW NA!

Bawal ang Plastik…. An Encore

ImageThe City of Makati is the latest convert to the growing list of local government units (LGU) in Metropolitan Manila where the use of plastic is categorically banned.

Muntinlupenos proudly holds the distinction of leading the way for other cities to follow when the ordinance more commonly called the “Bring Your Own Bag Law” was enacted prohibiting the citywide selling and use of plastic and Styrofoam containers.

As if that is not enough, our efforts were recognized when we won the much coveted Galing Pook Award, a well deserved honor that we should all be proud of. For all of outgoing mayor Aldrin San Pedro’s perceived and alleged wrongdoings, this feat is one feather in his cap that nobody can deny he also deserves to have.

The Galing Pook Foundation is an institution in itself whose mission is give recognition to excellence and innovation in local governance believing that the continued progress and development of our country is dependent on how well local government units are managed and how well cities and municipalities reinvent themselves.

Evidently we in Muntinlupa adopted in so many ways to comply with the no-plastic law and a lot has changed in the manner by which we look at our city, communities, and surroundings; and in each of ourselves as far as environment protection and disaster mitigation is concerned.

The unregulated use and disposal of plastic, Styrofoam and other plastic products is seen as one of the causes of flooding in most of Metropolitan Manila (aside from so many else such as informal settling at riverbanks and other waterways) a regular occurrence that we hope we will not experience again in Muntinlupa.

Riding on the success of this campaign, our City Council is now looking at ways to further improve the law and its implementation, another step forward in our campaign to ultimately arrest one of the scourges brought by rapid urban development – solid waste, garbage or trash.

Which makes me beg the question, that aside from banning plastic, how well is solid waste managed in our City?

The incumbent San Pedro is on his way out mere days from today; while the much anticipated administration of mayor-elect Jaime R. Fresnedi is more than ready to assume leadership of Muntinlupa.

We expect more and better services from JRF and one of these certainly is a well-managed system of waste disposal, not just plastic and Styrofoam.

In the same manner, we as stakeholders must also be prepared for the changes that will surely come our way and affect further the way we are traditionally used to.

Handa na ba kayo?

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A Breath of Fresh Air… a Ray of Sunshine

Like a breath of fresh air, Atty. Jaime R. Fresnedi or JRF as he is fondly called will take his oath of office as the Honorable Mayor of the City of Muntinlupa on July 1, 2013.

Probably the sweetest election victory ever for JRF, who came from humble beginnings and started his career in public service as municipal attorney (1986), municipal vice mayor (1986 – 1998) and Mayor (1998 – 2007).

In the run-off for the 2007 elections, his spouse ran for mayor but lost to Aldrin San Pedro (ASP), who himself rose from the ranks and started in politics as SK Federation President. In 2010, JRF again ran for mayor but also lost.

For the last 6 years with Mayor San Pedro at the helm, notwithstanding the fact that he made noticeable changes in the lives of many Muntinlupenos, he was continuously hounded by the perception that his father Thomas, a retired police officer, allegedly called the shots at City Hall and in jest earned him the misnomer of vice mayor.

The City of Muntinlupa is progressing in leaps and bounds, a fact that has not escaped the attention of many big businesses across the nation.

From a once sleepy and outlying town, Muntinlupa has emerged within the last 15 years as a community to reckon with now that it is host to large shopping malls, 5-star hotels, IT parks, industrial centers and hospitals – you name it, Muntinlupa has it.

That in spite of the city’s growing economy, we can find amongst and around the locality deep pockets of poverty and restlessness, a growing disparity between the haves and the have-nots, a fact that did not play well with the voters when the alleged mismanagement of public funds was brought to the fore in the last elections.

Ghost projects, undisclosed proceeds of a 2-billion plus peso loan and unexplained wealth hounded the San Pedro camp all throughout the campaign that his eventual loss became as clear as the handwriting on the wall even before the race begun.

As of today, the cases against Aldrin San Pedro, his vice mayor and most of the incumbent councilors are ongoing brought about by the details provided by an insider and who is now under the witness protection program of the Department of Justice.

Jaime Fresnedi’s victory may be sweet which is enough for many of the people of Muntinlupa, however caution should not be thrown to the wind for among his party mates, only 3 others made it to the list of winners excluding Pong Biazon who will serve as representative of the lone district of Muntinlupa.

Faced with the gargantuan task of making sense of the city’s finances, the challenge of weeding out of city hall of erring officials and employees, amidst an opposition city council, JRF needs all the help that he can get and not what everyone can get from him.

He has his work cut out for him and in spite of all these Muntinlupenos would always look at him as a ray of sunshine amidst the dark skies.

Like a breath of fresh air….