By Jun de Leoz
A government that cares for its people.
This is the highlight of Castilla, Sorsogon Mayor Isagani Mendoza’s first State of the Municipality Address (SOMA) last October 21, summarizing his administration’s first hundred days.
What made Mendoza’s leadership extraordinary is his ability to deliver on basic services – despite the fact that he does not have a single party mate in the Sangguniang Bayan, according to his constituents.
‘We can see the initiatives of Mayor Mendoza in bringing government closer to the people. They can see that he truly cares,” Barangay Poblacion Chairman Alex Sotto said.
What endeared Mendoza to Castillaños is the fact that he waived his P100,000 monthly salary, earmarking the money instead for the town’s Tabang Center.
Thanks to this, qualified constituents can now avail of the burial assistance given by the center, which includes a free coffin and a sack of rice.
In case of illness, one can readily go to the center for free consultation and medicines.
Their Rural Health Unit purchases medicines, if not available, for beneficiaries who cannot afford to buy instead of the usual reimbursement system in which the patient has to shell out cash first before being refunded.
Qualified persons with disabilities can also avail of free wheelchairs and crutches and other medical tools to make life easier for them.
After mobilizing the support of local officials and members of the Sangguniang Bayan, Mendoza committed the town to follow President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to clear the roads of obstacles, despite stiff opposition from affected residents and businesses.
Mendoza and his officials prided themselves with the high rating given to them by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) as far as road clearing is concerned.
Most of Castilla’s residents were also delighted by the new look of the municipality especially the market area which eradicated most of its eye sores.
Vendors who were affected by the road clearing operations were promised an alternative program to cushion the impact of the operations to their businesses.
This week, Mendoza paraded ten mobile uniformed vending units for distribution to those who were dislocated so that they can pursue their trade, this time in an orderly manner.
In an unprecedented move, Mendoza recently announced a significant number of recipients of their educational assistance program ensuring financial and material support for college students from Castilla.
Under Mendoza’s leadership, the Municipal Agriculture Office launched and continuously conceptualized programs and projects that will benefit agriculture, the core economic activity in Castilla.
The mayor was seen distributing tractors to jumpstart the mechanization and modernization of the agriculture sector and supported activities that promote the industry.
Activities such as the Unod and Kasag Festivals were further enhanced to highlight Castilla’s main agricultural production of root crops and its aqua-culture production especially world class crabs.
Trade and Industry
Mendoza is currently selling Castilla to business investors as a business-friendly municipality not only in the ease in getting permits and licenses but as well as giving assistance to expedite their business operations.
During his first 100 days, Castilla welcomed the opening of a new sea route for Castilla-Masbate and vice versa via a fast craft, which was seen by many as a possible catalyst of economic activities in the port area.
Other business investors are beginning to show interest to Castilla as a possible business hub including a medium sized ship building company.
With regard to his administration, Mendoza is faced with the task of making prudent decisions and maintain a delicate balance to avoid any conflict or misinterpretation on his executive actions.
This is because almost all officials of the local government unit including councilors were supporters of his defeated rival,
To streamline day-to-day operations at the municipal hall, Mendoza issued 22 Executive Orders to serve as a guide to all concerned of his policy and executive direction.
During his first 100 days, Mendoza flattened a mountain pile of garbage and ensured that such will never happen again.
He also asked the Municipal Engineering Office to conduct a study on how to improve the poor water service in their municipality and promised to address it sooner.
Mendoza sees to it that he personally attends to problem of public concerns brought to his office and thus can be seen inspecting matters that are subject of complaints such as the fly infestation in Sogoy.
Mendoza also intervened and provided a win-win solution to the long time request of Barangay Poblacion to use the old Municipal Building as their new Barangay Hall.
Mendoza personally visited Barangay Poblacion together with the members of the SB announcing that they cannot allow its use because of their plan to convert it into a museum and satellite office.
To contain the adverse reaction, Mendoza gave a win-win solution by declaring that instead of allowing utilization of its current barangay office, the local government unit decided to donate the land and building to the barangay.
Although a bit reluctant, Poblacion Chairman Sotto accepted the solution but he is banking on Mendoza to fulfil his promise at soonest possible time.
Indeed, with Mendoza’s hands-on style of leadership as well as caring attitude, Castilla is destined to greater progress in years to come.