Friday the 13th in Vico Sotto’s Pasig
MANILA, Philippines – It was about 4:30 pm on Friday the 13th and the workweek in Pasig ended with people evacuating City Hall after a magnitude 5.3 earthquake whose epicenter was all the way in Burdeos, Quezon province, on the other side of the Sierra Madre mountains.
The towering edifice with gleaming glass panels spanning the height of its sleek facade did not seem to flinch at the tremors – there were aftershocks – but those old enough to remember remembered that the upper half of the building was built on top of the old City Hall from 1967.
It had 4 floors then, with 4 more added in 2005. Although it looks sturdy and stately, the new Pasig City Hall might already be a little weak in the knees, as Mayor Vico Sotto pointed out after the temblor on Friday, September 13.
“As a safety precaution after the earthquake, we have evacuated City Hall. We need to be extra careful since it is actually due for retrofitting,” Sotto said on his official Facebook and Twitter pages.
Intensity II was felt in Pasig – not too strong, but the building’s old.
“Notice that many of the floors and structures are already uneven,” Sotto added.
The West Valley Fault, whose 400-year earthquake cycle is up for a “big one,” cuts right across Pasig City.
After Friday’s tremors, the mayor announced a “rapid assessment” of Pasig’s buildings, especially schools.
Funds for structural retrofitting are included in the city government’s proposed supplemental – or additional – budget for 2020, Sotto added, “para makasigurong ligtas tayong lahat (to make sure we are all safe).”
It’s September and for Filipinos, once the month rhymes with December, then Christmas is around the corner.
Pasig’s senior citizens look forward to their yearly Pamaskong Handog or Christmas presents from the city government, which includes P3,000 in cash and grocery items.
Last Christmas, senior citizens all over the city waited an entire afternoon to claim their share because of certain inefficiencies in the system.
This week, Sotto announced a revalidation and purging of the list of senior citizens with a privilege card from the city, which certifies their eligibility for the yearly handout.
The mayor said the process will be continuous – no deadline – and teams from the city’s Office of Senior Citizens Affairs will visit the barangays to register senior residents.
“Sa ating mga Lola't Lolo, pinagsisikapan po naming ayusin ang sistema para ngayong Desiyembre, hindi na po kayo pipila ng ilang oras para makakuha ng Pamaskong Handog,” Sotto said on his Facebook page.
(To our Grandmas and Grandpas, we are doing our best to fix the system so that this December, you will no longer have to line up for hours just to receive your Christmas present.)
More than 3,000 senior residents have been validated so far, Sotto added.
Socialized housing for the poor is commonly called “BLISS housing,” the acronym for the Marcos-era program Bagong Lipunan Improvement of Sites and Services.
Sotto has been making the rounds of BLISS housing projects in the city, where residents still could not keep up with their monthly dues, compounded with 3% interest and penalties on delayed payments.
The mayor promised to lower the penalty rates by December, adding that it could not be done right away because these are prescribed by city ordinances.
“Seryoso tayo sa misyon nating linisin ang lokal na pamahalaan. Hindi ito madali, lalo na't kauna-unahang beses na magkaroon ng transisyon mula nung naging lungsod tayo,” Sotto said in another post.
(We are serious in our mission to clean up the local government. This is not easy, especially because this is the first time that we’re having a transition ever since we became a city.)
Pasig was named a city in 1995, when Vicente Eusebio was mayor. Since then, he, his wife, son, and daughter-in-law took turns as the city’s chief executive.
When Sotto took over as mayor last July, it was the first time the city was being handed over to brand new governance after decades under the Eusebios.
Eleven weeks into his term, Sotto said things are moving along.
“Habang tumatagal, umaayos, lumilinis, at bumibilis ang sistema't aksyon ng bagong administrasyon natin (As we go along, our new administration’s system and actions are getting more organized, cleaner, and faster)." – Rappler.com