MANILA, Philippines – Just a month after he was sworn as acting mayor of Makati City, elected Vice Mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña Jr said he is “ready” to run as mayor in 2016.
“Handa akong lumaban sa pagka-mayor,” said Peña on Wednesday, August 5. “Pero hindi pa ko nagdedesisyon na patakbo na 'ko.”
(I am ready to run for mayor, but I still don’t have a final decision if I’m actually going to run for office.)
According to Peña, who turned 46 on Wednesday, his discernment for a possible candidacy is ongoing.
“May mga hinihintay pa 'kong kasagutan doon sa mga tanong ko (I’m still waiting for some answers to my questions),” he said.
He is considering a number of other factors, like finances and the sentiments of the city’s local leaders who may also run in 2016.
As he celebrated his birthday, Peña boasted 5 “major” gains of his young administration as acting mayor.
These, he said, include enhanced health care for senior citizens, improved free birthday cakes, upgraded social services, proposals to grant bonuses and promotions to city hall employees, and removing corrupt practices in the city government.
“I am glad to report that within our first month of transparent governance, the city government has already made progress in improving public service to our constituents,” he said.
However, Councilor Marie Alethea Casal-Uy, an ally of suspended Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr, said Peña’s projects are not new.
According to Peña, senior citizens now enjoy “personalized” medical care through house-to-house visits being conducted by doctors from the Makati Health Department. Free vitamins and medicines are also being delivered to their homes.
Peña said that the free birthday cakes for the elderly have “levelled up” in terms of quality, taste, and appearance as they are being purchased from Goldilocks and Red Ribbon.
The acting mayor, with the help of sponsors he has not named, has been personally purchasing the cakes until the selection of the winning bidder as cake supplier. The bidding conference will be held on Monday, August 10. (READ: Overpriced cakes in Makati? Prove it, city officials say)
Peña said the social services in the city also improved, adding that the garbage collection in the city “has never been this consistent.”
He also said that the Makati Anti-Drug Abuse Council and the Makati Social Welfare Department have been conducting daily operations to rescue street children.
Emergency response mechanisms have been swifter as well, with Peña citing the fire incidents in barangays Pinagkaisahan and Cembo in July.
“Even before firefighters declared a ‘fire out,’ city social workers and other personnel already arrived at the site to provide assistance to the fire victims,” he said.
Benefits for city hall employees
Photo by Mark Cristino/Rappler
Peña said his administration has been taking “definitive” steps to uplift the status of city hall employees as well.
“We have begun the process of fostering equitable career growth in the city government through doing away with patronage politics that has, for many years, denied deserving city workers the opportunity to rise up the ladder,” he said.
According to him, regular and casual employees will be promoted and granted permanent status “based on their performance and merits, not because of their political affiliation or color.”
A promotion committee will be put up to screen all qualified employees.
Peña is also hoping that the city council will approve his pending proposal to provide the productivity enhancement incentive bonus, equivalent to a month’s salary, to all city hall workers.
In celebration of his birthday, Peña has been going to different public schools since Monday to provide free dental and medical care to students as well as services for parents like free haircuts. Two smoke emission testing centers were also put up in the city to provide free services for one day.
Ex-ally of Binay
Peña previously ran and won as barangay captain under Binay's United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). However, he split from the party in 2010 and became the running mate of then-Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado. They ran as independents. (READ: Makati corruption witness: Who is Ernesto Mercado?)
While Mercado lost the mayoral position to Binay, Peña became vice mayor. He was re-elected in 2013 when he ran under the administration’s Liberal Party.
Currently, Peña is serving a city government mostly composed of officials allied with the Binays and the opposition party UNA. (READ: Kid Peña to Makati gov't workers: Be professional)
After being sworn as acting mayor, Peña has appealed to the city council to “uphold the greater good” and support his reform plans for Makati. – Rappler.com