By Jaleen Ramos and Aaron Dioquino
Improving the standard of living of the people of Manila will be the top priority of mayoral candidate Amado Bagatsing should he become the city’s chief executive next year.
“I’m willing and ready to provide the leadership in government, i-angat ang antas ng buhay ninyo, alisin ang korupsyon para mas lumaki ang take home pay ninyo (raise your standard of living, eliminate corruption, so you can have a bigger take-home pay),” Bagatsing said during the Manila Bulletin’s Hot Seat interview.
“With compassion, work together, inspire the community to be part of the solution and not be part of the problem… These are the visions of what you can expect under the Bagatsing administration,” he said.
Bagatsing founded a charitable non-government organization (NGO) Kabalikat ng Bayan sa Kaunlaran (KABAKA) in 1985, which already established around 70 health centers and 25 day care centers , that offers free medical services to the families in the city.
Among KABAKA’S programs include the construction of clinics, pharmacies, laboratory, and diagnostics centers for residents who cannot afford to go to private hospitals.
Bagatsing said he aims to build more health centers, diagnostic centers, and laboratories to expand the free medical services, promote the health of families, lessen the crowd and bed occupancy in the hospitals in Manila.
“So like what we did in KABAKA, we can replicate this. We have almost 70 health centers in Manila. I want to create also a diagnostic laboratory dun lang sa health center na kaya, para wag na magsiksikan sa ospital. Para ‘yung mga pupunyta sa ospital, ‘yung mga may problema na lang na malala (in health centers to lessen the crowd in hospitals. So that only those with severe problems will need to go to hospitals),” he said.
Bagatsing also said that he will expand the organization’s sports development programs for youth in public schools.
“We will give them a platform where they can excel, and at the same time, be the role models in their respective communities,” he said.
Public school students who love sports should also be given the same programs like tournaments and training that the other institutions provide to improve their prospects and living, and prevent them from using illegal drugs, Bagatsing pointed out.
He added he would tap well-meaning companies and civic-minded people as well as the barangay officials and non-government organizations to duplicate the programs of KABAKA.
“Kung nagawa ko po sa KABAKA ‘yun ng walang pondo, magagawa ko din po bilang mayor ‘yan (If I did that in KABAKA without funds, I can also do that as mayor),” he said.
“All we have to do is duplicate and improve on what we have done, but the difference is we now have the sources and the authority to make a difference. So ‘yun po ang gusto kong makita. More of sa tao po kami naka-based. Para lahat ng antas ng tao maging produktibo. So para sa amin po, ang kalusugan (So that’s what I want to see. We focus more on people. So that the standard of living of the people will be productive. So for us, it’s the health),” he said.
Bagatsing, meanwhile, assured that all programs of incumbent Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso that will benefit the people of the city will be continued such as the city’s program for students of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) and the Universidad de Manila (UDM).
“Of course, ‘yung mga magandang ginagawa niya. Example lang ‘yung mga programs ng estudyante ng PLM, UDM. Aba okay yan, baka dagdagan pa natin yan (the good things he does. The student programs of PLM, UDM are just some examples. It’s good, maybe we’ll add more),” he said.
Should he win the elections next year, Bagatsing said he would also pursue a participatory government.
“Not because you’re a resident of the community, tanggap ka nalang ng tanggap (you will just only accept). You have also to be part of the solution. Everybody will have to cooperate if you want a vibrant, healthy, productive Manila,” he said.
“Hindi pwedeng bahala si Mayor diyan, tayo pong nasa komunidad (The Mayor cannot just take care all of it, we are in a community), we have to help each other,” he added.
The mayoral aspirant also stressed the importance of keeping up with the current situation, especially during this time of pandemic, in terms of implementing laws in the city.
“Abnormal ang sitwasyon for the last two years. Marami ang naghirap ngayon. So kung abnormal ang sitwasyon ngayon, ang mga batas natin ay normal.. paano magtutugma ang isang batas na ginawa sa panahon ng normal sa sitwasyon na abnormal (The situation has been abnormal for the last two years. Many are suffering today. So if the situation is abnormal now, our laws are normal.. how can a law made during normal time fit in the situation that is abnormal),” he pointed out.
“Kinakailangan maging flexible din tayo (We have to be flexible). Let’s be all compassionate,” he added.
HELP DISPLACED VENDORS
Bagatsing said displaced vendors in Manila recently complained to him for being removed from the streets just to turn them into a parking area for motorcycles.
“Aba hindi ata ayos yon. Walang pinakakain ‘yung motorsiklong pamilya, kayo may pinakakain kayong pamilya. Yung inalis kayo para maging paradahan ng motorsiklo, to me that is inequity (Well, that’s not okay. The motorcycle has no family to feed, you have a family to feed. Those of you who were removed from the streets to use them as a motorcycle parking lot, to me that is inequity),” he said.
“We need to give these poor people a chance, and not exploit them. Let their take home pay be higher,” he said.
Bagatsing, who filed his candidacy through substitution, said several barangay officials and city staff were the ones who convinced him to run for the post.
“I promised them one thing. Kung walang tumakbo diyan (If no one will run) on the 15th of November, I will seriously consider filing. I will not let Manila be held hostage by those who are not qualified for the position,” he said.
His wife, who is a cancer survivor, also gave him the go signal to run.
“Sabi niya, ‘Sige na tumakbo ka na, baka gumaling ako pag tumakbo ka’. May go signal ako ng wife (He said, ‘All right, run, I might get better when you run’. I got a go signal from my wife), I went to the office. Sige, I will file,” he said.
Bagatsing is the son of the longest serving mayor of Manila, the late Ramon Bagatsing. He served as congressman of Manila for 20 years.
“Sa administration, hindi nga ako nag-administra sa city hall, pero nag-administra naman ako ng isang NGO for 36 years, na walang pera, pero may programa (In terms of administration, I did not administer the city hall, but I administered an NGO for 36 years, with no money, but with a program),” added Bagatsing who is running as an independent candidate.
“Importante samin who will lead the city. ‘Yung may kakayahan magpatakbo ng lungsod. Siguro naman ‘yung accomplishment namin, tatlo kaming kandidato, ilagay na lang nila ‘yan. Pag-aralan ng mga botante ( What’s important is who will lead the city. Those who have the ability to run the city. Maybe our accomplishments, we are three candidates, put it there. Let the voters study),” he said.
Bagatsing lost to incumbent Vice Mayor Maria Shielah “Honey ” Lacuna when he ran as vice mayoral bet of former Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada in 2019.