MANILA, Philippines – As Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte paid tribute to historical figures and events this week, she expressed her hope to continue their legacy through public service and the active citizen participation of her constituents, especially with regard to addressing issues of displacement, traffic, and health.
During the commemoration of Manuel Quezon's 141st birth anniversary last Monday, August 19, Belmonte recalled the former president's strides in development that Filipinos still enjoy today.
In the same vein, Belmonte said she continues to search for potential sites to relocate those displaced by the clearing operations ordered by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
She proposed to move sidewalk and illegal vendors to public markets and waive their rent fees for up to two months to allow them to settle in. She also installed two 40-foot container vans to serve as an alternative mobile barangay hall for the one that was demolished in Brgy. Damayang Lagi. (READ: QC eyes lease of national gov't properties for displaced vendors, barangay halls)
The city government is also doing more for commuters, specifically those coming from Commonwealth Avenue, the mayor said.
On Tuesday, August 20, Belmonte announced that city officials have coordinated with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority to provide 30 buses that will originate from Doña Carmen Subdivision along the avenue, dedicated to picking up passengers from Commonwealth.
On Wednesday, August 21, Belmonte spoke at the city's commemoration of martyred opposition senator Ninoy Aquino's death anniversary, expressing her admiration for him and calling on public servants to "realize democracy's fullest meaning" for the people.
"The market vendor who makes honest living is worth our extra hours in advocacy. The mother who tends to her children while her husband toils with his passenger jeep is worth our dedication to public service... The Filipino is still worth dying for. Let's take the lead from Ninoy's life," she said in her speech.
On the same day, she announced on her FB page that the city legal office is preparing a case against the private company that was charging P80-P150 from around 200 vendors without legal basis. (READ: Joy Belmonte: Who's 'private organizer' collecting fees from vendors?)
On Thursday, August 22, Belmonte led a campaign against dengue in Brgy. Fairview, which has the highest recorded number of dengue cases in the city.
The city government is distributing organic mosquito spray repellent and Olyset nets to schools located in the top ten dengue-prone barangays in the city.
Belmonte also met with Singapore Ambassador Gerard Ho Wei, with whom she expressed her hope to adopt the city-state's housing program for informal settlers and its world-renowned educational system for Quezon City.
"Sa kasalukuyan, tayo ay nakikipaglaban sa kahirapan, sakuna, at mga sakit na nakakaapekto sa ating mga mamamayan (Currently, we are fighting poverty, adversity, and sicknesses that affect our people)," Belmonte said during the commemoration of the 123rd anniversary of the Cry of Pugad Lawin, on Friday, August 23.
Meanwhile, Task Force 60 Days or Task Force Bayanihan sa Lansangan, which aims to complete the DILG directive within the 60-day deadline, is still operating at full steam.
According to Belmonte, the DILG lauded Quezon City for being the best in conducting clearing operations in Metro Manila. Belmonte credits this achievement as the result of a "people's movement".
But for Belmonte, what's more important than the number of cleared roads is how to make sure they remain free from any obstruction.
Thus, she has outlined several sustainability plans to keep the roads clear, including the utilization of the No Contact Traffic Apprehension policy and deputizing more traffic enforcers to issue tickets to those who commit traffic violations.
Belmonte also said that the city government has hired an expert from the University of the Philippines to conduct a study on existing bus and tricycle routes, some of which she finds "archaic".
She hoped that more routes could be opened in order to help areas that are underserved.
"Wala pong dapat maiiiwan dito sa ating lungsod, kailangan lahat ay umaangat ang mga buhay, kailangan lahat ay umuunlad (No one should get left behind in our city, everyone's lives should improve)," Belmonte said. – Rappler.com
Loreben Tuquero is a researcher-writer for Rappler. Before transferring to Rappler's Research team, she covered transportation, Quezon City, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government as a reporter. She graduated with a communication degree from the Ateneo de Manila University.