CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Mayor Rolando Uy marked his first 100 days as Cagayan de Oro’s leader on Monday, October 10, but his litany of accomplishments was overshadowed by the relative peace in the city’s political environment that was chaotic for decades.
On-air, online, and in print, the post-election political mudslinging Kagay-anons are used to ceased in the friendly environment Uy created – at least for now. Not once since he assumed the mayoral post did he publicly speak ill of another local politician, ally or foe.
The first three months of Uy’s administration were characterized by political tranquility in a city that, for years, saw bitter and ugly political rivalries, and the lawsuits that came with them.
“I didn’t expect this. I was expecting ‘war,'” said Councilor James Judith, a member of a local political alliance that clashed head-on with Uy’s ticket in the May elections.
A hundred days later, Judith spoke well of Uy for being non-confrontational and unprovocative, and his respectful treatment of members of the City Council minority and political opponents.
For the first time in recent years, Cagayan de Oro’s mayor sees eye to eye with the Misamis Oriental governor and other local politicians from rival groups.
Despite their different alliances and conflicting political interests, they have been attending each other’s sponsored events.
For instance, Misamis Oriental Governor Peter Unabia – a new local chief executive like Uy – came to listen to the mayor’s First 100 Days Report at city hall on Monday.
Unabia is one of the allies of former governor and now Misamis Oriental 2nd District Representative Yevgeny Vincente Emano whose political party, the PaDayon Pilipino, had clashed with Uy’s group for years.
Emano’s father, the late local political kingpin Vicente, frustrated Uy’s first attempt to lead the city in the 2010 mayoral race.
Three years later, the elder Emano lost his reelection bid to Uy’s ally and predecessor, former mayor Oscar Moreno – a political nemesis of the Emano family.
In September, Uy and the Emanos buried the hatchet. The mayor met and exchanged pleasantries with the congressman, his sister Tagoloan town Mayor Nadya Elipe, and their sister Yvy, a member of the City Council’s minority.
The mayor has also opened communication lines with Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Representative Rufus Rodriguez, the president of the Centrist Democratic Party (CDP) and an important political ally of the Emanos in Cagayan de Oro.
Uy and Rodriguez are potential rivals in the next mayoral race, yet they have been meeting and mapping out the city’s direction together, unmindful of their political differences.
Rodriguez’s sister Jocelyn, the city’s vice mayor, said she appreciated Uy for being reconciliatory, and for reaching out to political foes.
“We have set aside our different political colors. I consider myself a part of Mayor Uy’s city hall family, and I am supporting him for the good of the city,” Jocelyn told local broadcaster Magnum Radyo on Tuesday, October 11.
Broadcast executive and veteran radio commentator Albino Quinlog Jr., popularly known in the city as Jun Albino, attributed the prevailing friendly-to-all political environment in the city to people’s longing to see a change in Cagayan de Oro’s political landscape.
Albino, who covered local politics since the 1980s, said Kagay-anons became fed up with the city’s politicians suing each other, and quarreling in public even about the pettiest of matters.
“I think it’s not just Uy who has been reaching out. I think they all want reconciliation. Like the rest of us, they’re all sick and tired, and stressed out, too, as a result of years of fighting each other. I really hope this will continue,” Albino told Rappler.
Judith said Uy provided a breath of fresh air in local politics, and the political tranquility in the city defined the first three months of his administration.
He credited this to Uy’s being soft-spoken and mild-mannered, innate characteristics that are not typical of many politicians in the country.
“He seems to be the type of person who doesn’t want trouble, and who doesn’t want to have enemies. I think this would hold on, at least in the next two years, and I would be happy to see this continuing beyond that,” he said.
Judith, however, said he doubted if efforts to keep the political peace in the city can be sustained, especially in the months leading to the next elections.
In politics, there are neither permanent enemies nor permanent friends – only permanent interests.
“The reality is that there are clashing political interests. There would likely be a tectonic shift, and a realignment of political forces before the 2025 elections,” he said. – Rappler.com