Efrain “Jun” Pelaez Jr. describes his campaign as a “new battle for Mactan.” The businessman will face incumbent Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza this May for the city’s top post. Pelaez came into political prominence when he raised accusations of corruption against Radaza and the Lapu-Lapu City Government. If elected, Pelaez said he will drastically change Lapu-Lapu in 3 years “what the incompetents have failed to do in the last 15 years!”
We asked members of the MyCebu.ph Facebook community to send questions that we will ask Pelaez for an article here on the site. We also did a similar request for Mayor Radaza (which will be published later).
MyCebu.ph: What is the defining issue of the elections in Lapu-Lapu this May?
Jun Pelaez: It is still institutionalized corruption and whether we should allow a family dynasty to continue to rule and flourish despite the numerous and multi-billion criminal cases filed against the patriarch and matriarch of that family. How can we trust a candidate for the highest position of a city when she is facing multi-billion criminal cases filed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the PDIC for her past role as the head of Rural Bank of Subangdaku that went bankrupt, particularly since these involved the fraudulent creation of 6,051 fake loans amounting to P2.6 billion pesos, and other criminal violations of our banking laws?
Moreover, she is also criminally charged for her role in the Girl Scout scam. These cases are active and Paz Radaza has posted bail several times to avoid arrest. There are also other multi-million scam cases and criminal violations of environmental laws still pending investigation at the Visayas Ombudsman. Her character and past record must be scrutinized, if not assailed.
No one would hire her in the private sector to run a bank or a legitimate corporation, especially one earning millions, with a record and cases pending like that. What more a city with over P2 billion in annual revenue?
“City hospital is such a mess”
MyCebu.ph: Mayor Radaza reports the institutionalization of good governance in Lapu-Lapu City as one of her key accomplishment. What can you say about this?
Jun Pelaez: This is total nonsense and propaganda concocted by her public relations people. These are worthless slogans meant to deceive the people. If so, why is the city hospital in such a mess and with hardly any improvement in her almost 6 years in office? For the last 8 years, I have been hearing the same complaints about lack of medicines and services since the time of Mayor Arturo Radaza.
The same goes for the public market that is a filthy disgrace. Not to mention the state of garbage collection, segregation and disposal. Lapu-Lapu is one of the dirtiest cities in the country, as noticed by the Secretary of Environmental Protection of the Office of the President which they featured in their website. Environmental laws have been wantonly disregarded and I have filed several cases that are still pending in the Ombudsman for those violations. I have thousands of photos taken since 2007 up to the present as proof that show little has changed if not gotten worse.
Similarly, Paz Radaza has not fulfilled her promises for the resettlement of the countless urban poor in the city into integrated resettlement areas, nor can she even claim to have made a model community for the poor. In 2011, she claimed she had plans for a model community of 4000 families in a 25-hectare resettlement site, which her husband also had promised to develop in 2003, but up to now there is no such model community even for just 500 homes after 13 years of Radaza rule. The truth is the area has become an illegal dumpsite. These are only a few key examples. So where is the institutionalized good governance she is talking about?
MyCebu.ph: Despite being a highly-urbanized city, Lapu-Lapu City still has tricycles as the main mode of transportation. Not only are they everywhere, they also park on national roads like in Basak, rendering the road widening useless because they occupy one lane on each side by parking. In some barangays, trisikads even service passengers on major roads. Do you see the need to move into mass transportation? Do you see it as a priority and what do you plan to do about it?
Jun Pelaez: This requires a special task force and a restudy of the traffic situation, choke points, existing infrastructure, volume of traffic, time studies, and possible solutions. No plan, however, can be implemented without taking into consideration the needs of the riding public, passengers and commuters, as well as the existing providers.
For example, the tricycles and trisikads also provide a service and fill the demand otherwise they would not be there. We have to look for solutions that can still service the public, hopefully with better public utility and even mass transit solutions. But simply eliminating them is not a solution unless we have alternative transport to fill the demand. We must also provide gainful substitute employment for those who will be displaced by the change.
One thing is certain, we have the political will to act and we are exploring many ideas to improve the situation and infrastructure from new or expanded roads to traffic lights and designated routes for certain types of vehicles. We also will be diligent, circumspect and determined in our approach to solve the problem.
MyCebu.ph: What are your platforms?
Jun Pelaez: Principal focus will be on Health, Housing, Environment, Education, Employment, and Eliminating Graft and Corruption.
Drastic change for Lapu-Lapu
MyCebu.ph: Where do you want to take Lapu-Lapu City?
Jun Pelaez: I will try to change drastically Lapu-Lapu City and do in 3 years what the incompetents have failed to do in the last 15 years! We will truly open up the city for business. No more private negotiations before a project is implemented. No more projects, especially large ones, delayed by endless permit releases.
We will eliminate all forms of graft and collections from the public markets, terminals, roadsides, public roads, tourist areas and the like. This will also impact on the drug menace and the peace and order situation. We will have a massive clean-up and solve the garbage crisis. We will take a new census of the urban poor, seniors, PWDs, and other marginalized sectors who will be the first and immediate beneficiaries of the city’s services from hospital and healthcare, to housing.
We will clean up and redevelop or rebuild the public markets, make them pedestrian and even tourist friendly. We will promote parks and playgrounds in all barangays and implement a real greening program of the city. We will focus on providing every graduate of a public high school in the city with a chance to continue their college education or an opportunity to acquire a skill through a TESDA or special training courses. We will improve the road, drainage and sanitation network of the city. Tree lined streets and proper sidewalks and lighting will also be a priority.
MyCebu.ph: Will you be pushing for industrialization or ICT-BPM or will you champion tourism and heritage?
Jun Pelaez: Both. The eastern flank of the island will be primarily focused to enhance the tourism sector and developed into a genuine tourism estate with the proper infrastructure necessary to achieve that goal. The central area and western flank will be developed to continue to promote housing, commercial and light industrial or ICT related activities.
MyCebu.ph: Being a city dependent on tourism revenues, what are your plans to protect Lapu-Lapu’s natural resources?
Jun Pelaez: First we have to clean up the entire city to make sure no waste leaches or is discharged in our municipal waters and coastline. We have to work closely with environmental experts and watchdogs and engage the DENR to effectively enforce Environmental Laws. Again, there will be no tolerance for continued violations. At the same time, we should make sure that the entire coastline facing the Hilutungan Channel will become a true marine sanctuary. Olango Island and nearby islands will be the focus for eco-tourism initiatives.
I also plan to develop plant nurseries in all the barangays to promote the planting of ornamental trees and palms, flowering plants and other landscaping material to beautify and green the whole city, including our nearby islands.
MyCebu.ph: What actions do you intend to take to curb the city’s problems on drugs and crime?
Jun Pelaez: The drastic rise of drugs and criminality in the city can only be traced to the leadership either through absolute neglect or active protection and complicity. Since the time of Arturo Radaza, a former policeman himself, and then his wife Paz Radaza, their selection of police chiefs, some with dubious backgrounds, has only exacerbated the problem.
While the city jail is bursting with small time drug offenders, no big fish are in prison. I do not believe there has been a serious attempt to eradicate the problem and we have reports many city officials may even be involved in the trade.
Once we are elected, we will advise all and sundry that there is a new Sheriff in town and warn everybody that there will be zero tolerance of these activities. I will select a new police chief after reviewing carefully the best man for the job with an unblemished record. The same goes for the PDEA personnel assigned to the city. We will revamp the police personnel assigned to Lapu-Lapu and review carefully their records. I will also form a special task force of people I trust to focus on criminality and possible complicity of people, especially of Barangay officials, who may be involved in these activities. I will disband those quasi-police organizations set up by Arturo and Harry Radaza that are used like private armies of enforcers for their own purposes. I will work with some people I know in the military, police and intelligence establishment to develop an effective force and deterrent to fight the drug scourge, reduce criminality and enforce the law.
MyCebu.ph: What are your programs for education?
Jun Pelaez: On top of the list is to make sure every graduate of a public high school has an opportunity to proceed to college or to have a vocational education to learn a special skill. This will include the drastic expansion of the City College and the Skills Training School, as well as TESDA training centers. I would also like to work with the DepEd to develop more community-based projects for the students to develop their sense of community and nation building.
MyCebu.ph: Garbage is a big problem in the city, what do you offer as solutions?
Jun Pelaez: First order is to engage in a massive and also sustainable clean-up of the City. Segregation and composting will be strictly enforced. Acquisition of new dump trucks and compactors will be done immediately or we will temporarily hire private contractors to help in the clean-up. The present setup of dumpsites and disposal will be studied and solutions decided on so we can comply with all environmental laws.
Designated garbage collection points with covered community type garbage bins or receptacles will be acquired and placed in strategic areas in all the barangays. Regular garbage pick-up schedules will be devised in all sitios of every barangay with subsequent collection for disposal into the main dumpsite, material recovery facility or waste to energy plant. We will also work closely with a private Canadian firm engaged in waste-to-energy with the objective of providing the necessary feedstock for their PEZA located plant, but also to do a similar one in joint venture with the city. We have initiated talks with the Canadian Ambassador on this matter.
MyCebu.ph: There have been many complaints raised against the Lapu-Lapu City public market as being dirty. What are your plans related to this?
Jun Pelaez: We have been criticizing the deplorable state of the public market for years. Our plans include renovating or rebuilding the main public market into a modern one after looking into its structural viability. I would also like to redevelop the seaside market beside the Muelle de Osmena. All these public markets should also become tourist attractions as are other markets around the world. We will also build proper and clean community markets in each barangay to replace the roadside talipapas.
MyCebu.ph: How can you ensure a transparent City Government?
Jun Pelaez: First we have to tell all city officials and employees that no corruption will be tolerated and dismissal and filing of graft charges swift. Otherwise, just being open and with clear procedures advertised for any transaction should do wonders. We will also install CCTV cameras in sensitive departments and keep video records that may be subject to review anytime, and the videos stored in a central database for future reference.
We will likewise video all sessions of the City Council and also all Public Biddings of City projects conducted. I will also ask the head of the Bids and Awards committee to justify before-hand any bid price advertised for bidding, so we will not have unreasonable standards and prices set that only a designated few can comply with. I will not allow the city to deal with new companies or hastily organized ones, but only known and reputable establishments.
I will require all department heads and officials to respond to complaints within 5 days and also open up their records for scrutiny if asked to do so. I will set up our own graft watch unit to hear and investigate complaints.
MyCebu.ph: If elected, what will your key action points be in your first 100 days?
Jun Pelaez: 1) Massive clean-up drive to comply with environmental laws;
2) Eliminate all forms of illegal collections, like tong from public utility vehicles, tricycles, trisikads, or un-receipted collections from street or sidewalk vendors, in public markets, terminals, plazas, shrines and the like.
3) Hospital and Health Centers will be audited and immediately improved to provide proper services especially to the poor.
4) A new census will be taken of all government beneficiaries who are paid honorariums to eliminate padded or ghost payrolls, and also to determine legitimate recipients of government or city programs for Seniors, PWD’s, urban poor, PPP, Clean and Green, and the like.
5) Create a task force vs. crime and drugs.
6) We will review the master plan of the city to rationalize development, traffic management, and needed infrastructure like roads, drainage, waste disposal and other requirements of a highly urbanized city.
7) Come up with a Draft Tourism Development Plan to identify the necessary improvements to make the city truly tourist friendly. This will include identifying priority areas for development like the Magellan Shrine, needed lighting and sidewalks in the tourist belt and hotel row, encouraging tourist friendly behavior. and planning tourism infrastructure like a convention area, boardwalk, promenades and the like.
8) Eliminate waste and increase efficiency in city operations and administration. All City Hall offices will be reviewed and professionalized.
9) Start identifying and planning areas for systematic development of parks and playgrounds throughout city with at least one model playground with component park ready for display as a template for the program.
10) Review housing and resettlement plan for urban poor relocation and develop action plan for first 500 homes to be built.