Carving a name in politics


As newly- elected government officials recently occupied their seats in office, several third termers are taking a leave, be it temporary or permanent. Why?

Section 43 of the Local Government Code states that the term for a local position is three years. “No local elective official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms in the same position."

For any elected official to actually finish three terms is quite a feat, hence, those who receive recognition from notable organizations composed of other elected legislators is likewise a feat.

Three of the most notable organizations in the country are the Metro Manila Councilors League (MMCL), Philippine Councilors League (PCL) and National Movement of Young Legislators (NMYL). Members of these organizations regularly assemble to exchange ideas on good governance, and consequently, alliances made there help shape the results of even national elections. So, it is an honor when they award one of their own for exemplary service. One of the recipients of their unanimous recognition this year is three-termer Councilor Cris Mathay of San Juan City who was also previously awarded Most Outstanding Councilor of Metro Manila by the Gawad Sulo ng Bayan.

While the name "Mathay" is known in Quezon City where Cris' grandfather Mel Mathay served as mayor from 1992-2001, and his father Chuck Mathay was a congressman, one of his accomplishments is actually carving an already established name in a different city.

A native of San Juan, Cris attended Xavier School Greenhills. He started as a director of the North Greenhills Homeowners Association, until he was elected president and chairman. In 2011, he ran as barangay councilor (kagawad) of Greenhillls, and in 2013 was elected city councilor of San Juan.  He also served as director of the NMYL.

"When I was first campaigning in San Juan, there were people who would mock and say, 'Isn't Mathay from QC?' but I'll just tease them back and reply, 'oh, aren't we in QC? and laugh'" Cris good-naturedly narrates.

It is this genuine kindness and humility that has made him one of the most beloved personalities of San Juan.

Mary Ann Bello from one of the largest discerning voting clans in San Juan shares, "Konsi Cris became the #1 councilor because he's the most down-to-earth, humble, and kindest persons I've met who ran in San Juan. He never chose who to help, whether it was someone from another district or even people from other cities. I saw this first hand when I became his secretary in city hall."

Cris' charisma goes beyond the borders of his city. Former president and current advisor of the MMCL, Councilor Carol Cunanan says, "Cris is very responsible, approachable, and super friendly. There are no dull moments when you're with him.  He is well known and well loved in the Metro Manila Councilor League that is why we will surely miss him and we will wait for his comeback to public service."

While popularity or "inheriting" a position from a family member can get one elected, Cris finished his three terms successfully and is beloved by his constituents no matter which political party they may support through impeccable performance of duties and responsibilities of a councilor.  Under Section 17 of the Local Government Code, the main duty of a councilor is to "approve ordinances which shall ensure the efficient and effective delivery of the basic services and facilities."

Cris authored several ordinances including designation of bike lanes during the lockdowns which was replicated by other cities during the pandemic, breastfeeding centers in public establishments, a one stop center for the issuance of all government permits to ease the burden of the businessmen and entrepreneurs, and one of his most notable, the Free PhilHealth membership for city indigents. Even before the Philippine Senate introduced the free PhilHealth Law, Cris authoured the ordinance to provide free PhilHealth for the indigent families in San Juan in 2016.

"When I became a father, that's when I felt that no one is rich or poor when your family gets sick. If those of us living comfortable lives still experience financial difficulties when their family members are hospitalized, what more for families living below poverty lines? In my daily  conversations with people, I surmise that about 80 percent of those seeking help are for medical assistance," Cris shares.

He adds, "For me, legislators should be public servants in the truest sense of the word. We live to serve the people. I will never tire of helping whether there is an election or not."

Now, as the electorate, our duty is to keep a close eye on those who ran and won, and those who serve.