Ex-mayor Ben de Guzman has no claim to city’s fame
By ROGER M. BALANZA
Did we lose our most livable city status? If we did not, then what would former mayor Benjamin de Guzman regain if he is elected back to office?
The Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod in a statement has told de Guzman to stop harping about the city being declared as ‘most livable city’ during his short stint as city mayor from 1998 to 2001.
The citation with the city 19th in a list of 40 Asian cities was handed down by the Asiaweek Magazine in 1998.
Hugpong said de Guzman, the city administrator sculpted by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to become vice mayor in 1995 and then mayor in 1998, was suffering from a case of acute amnesia to forget that it was the Duterte administration that laid the foundations to make the city one of the most livable cities in Asia.
The recognition was not earned overnight, said Hugpong adding Davao City had been acknowledged by Asiaweek during its annual surveys as a one of the most livable cities long before de Guzman’s brief stint.
He has no claim to the city’s fame, said Hugpong. The Dabawenyos would not have dumped him in the 2001 elections if they thought de Guzman was the right man at City Hall, said the party of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte, credited with the victory of de Guzman against congressman Prospero Nograles in the 1998 mayoral race, trounced his former political ally turned bitter foe in his comeback bid to regain City Hall in 2001.
Running in May against Mayor Duterte in the vice mayoral race as running mate of Nograles who is pitted against Vice Mayor Inday Sara in the main event, de Guzman, in a report in the Mindanao Insider Daily, said Davao City has now lost its most livable status under the Duterte administration.
De Guzman has expressed confidence that Davao City would regain the most livable city status when the clamor for change by Dabawenyos eventually gets answered.
All Davao City needs is a leader with vision and who works hard to achieve such vision.”
Hugpong said the city had always been in the Asiaweek list years before de Guzman’s stint: Based on annual surveys made by Asiaweek on the 40 Best Cities in Asia, Davao City has consistently made it to the Top 20 for four consecutive years (1996-1999). In the survey of livability, Davao City rated high in the following categories.
De Guzman’s claim that it was only him who was able to land Davao City in the Asiaweek list is nothing but pure, undiluted hot air, said Hugpong. The 1998 Asiaweek citation came not because of de Guzman but because of the previous efforts of the Duterte administration to cut down crime to the barest number, protect the environment, provide education, spur economic development and increase livelihood opportunities.
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte laid down the foundation for Davao City to become the Most Livable City in the Philippines. If the survey, which is independently done by Asiaweek, becomes a basis, it could be said that Davao City under the long years of leadership of Mayor Duterte has maintained its quality of livability as a city and is in fact improving on it, said Hugpong. said de Guzman is playing blind not to notice the fast-paced development of the city for political expediency.
Hugpong said it is advising de Guzman to read about the city’s various other accomplishments achieved without even his shadow like being:
Most Competitive Metro City in the Philippines, 2001, 2003, 2005
The Asian Institute of Management has conducted an assessment of the leading Cities in the country using indicators such as quality of life, cost of doing business, dynamism of the local economy, infrastructure, linkages and accessibility, and quality of workforce in the years 2001, 2003, and 2005 (No survey was done in 2002 and 2004) and Davao City topped the rankings in 2001 and 2005 and placed 3rd in 2003.
Destination of the Year, 1997 Kalakbay Awards
1997 was supposed to be the banner year of Davao City having earned a lot of distinctions in the national arena. Aside from being chosen as the Destination of the Year by the Kalakbay Awards, tourism facilities within the city were also recognized with the highest honors in their respective categories such as Hotel of the Year for Villa Margarita and Restaurant of the Year for Annies Restaurant.
Most Child-friendly City in the Philippines
In the first ever selection of the Most Child-Friendly City in the Philippines, Davao City came out the runaway choice for the top plum owing to its local government’s programs and initiatives directly benefiting its children through various legislation backed by Mayor Duterte prior to de Guzman’s stint as city mayor.
Davao City stood out because it is the first local government unit to have passed a Code specifically designed for the welfare of the children and their rights to services, Protection, and other privileges – this is the Davao City Children’s Welfare Code of 1994 also before de Guzman became vice mayor in 1995.
Aside from the regular social welfare programs being implemented by the City Social Services and Development Office, the local government works closely with non-government agencies that implements programs for children.
The Davao City Government also got high marks because of its implementation of the child welfare and protection programs under the Country Program for Children – UNICEF.
Most Outstanding Regional Peace and Order Council
The quest for peace has become very expensive and very elusive in some isolated parts of Mindanao. However, there is one region where peace has become a price possession that its leaders never want such ideal condition slip out from their hands – the Region XI Peace and Order Council was chosen as the Most Outstanding Regional Peace and Order Council for their unrelenting efforts in maintaining peace and order in Southern Mindanao or Region XI.
Most Peaceful City in East and Southeast Asia
One of the biggest come-ons of an area is an ideal peace and order condition. The dramatic decrease of crime rate in Davao City is big deal considering that it used to have a very unstable peace and order during the Marcos’ regime that ended in a bloodless revolution in February 1986. It may be noted that it was also Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s iron-fist peace and order campaign that began in 1988 that made the city peaceful and orderly, whose fruits was inherited by de Guzman.
Since then, peace and order has never been more ideal. In fact, it improves year after year thanks to a people who will not let peace slip away like a prized possession.
From a 3-digit crime rate per 10,000 people in 1985, Davao has reached an almost Utopian environment with a monthly crime volume of 0.8 cases per 10,000 persons from 1999 up to 2005. Digging through the records, it would reveal that about 90% of these cases reported are petty crimes that do not in any way threaten the over-all peace and order condition of the city.
Best Police Office in the Country
Annually, the Philippine National Police conducts an evaluation of the Best Police Offices in the Country. They will be evaluated and ranked according to the ratio of policemen against the population of the area, implementation of programs for maintenance of peace and order, availability of sophisticated equipment and vehicles, the ratio of solved crimes against the total number of crimes reported and the overall safeguarding of the peace and order condition of the area.
LGU Literacy Award in the Philippines
This award is given to local government units that seek to improve literacy within their area through programs that will ensure the establishment of learning institutions even in the most remote rural areas. Davao City ranked a close second in this competition having registered one of the highest literacy rates in the country and in Southeast Asia at 98.05%.
Best City Health Office in the Philippines
Vaccines, medicines, and clinical and medical services may cost much nowadays. A local government unit should see to it that medical services are affordable if not given for free especially to rural folks and the urban poor. In this area of recognition, the local Government of Davao again ranked a close second in operating a City Health Office that delivers free and or very affordable services to its constituents aside from implementing health programs that focuses on prevention of sickness and illnesses.
The Cleanest and Greenest City in the Philippines
(Highly urbanized category)
For almost a decade, Davao City ranked Second Cleanest and Greenest City in the Philippines. Visitors cannot but help notice that the city’s roads are indeed clean day and night and the parks are eternally green with trees and ornamentals. But the top plum seems slippery because of an open dumpsite located along its diversion road.