Making Cebu number one again

By: Jobers Reynes Bersales July 01,2019 - 07:00 AM


Governor Gwendolyn F. Garcia begins her first day in office today with a resounding mandate of nearly 300,000 votes over her opponent in the last elections, the same one she clashed with during the illegal power grab that cut short her third gubernatorial term. 

Her stint as a governor for three straight terms is matched only by that of her father, Pablo P. Garcia, who was also elected for the same number of terms. The first-ever female governor in Cebu to have reached three terms is in itself record-breaking. Now she returns to the Capitol on an unprecedented fourth term.

In her speech last nigh during her inauguration as incoming governor, she could not help but remark at the fates that befell those who conspired to end her third term prematurely, especially mentioning the former Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas (without mentioning his name) who now holds the record of having been defeated three times in a row of elections and of police general Marcelo Garbo, now in hiding following his role as a big-time drug protector, a narco-general.

She was gracious at sparing the four other conspirators including the sitting president then, the lazy and inept president Benigno Aquino III and his local minions in the province and in Cebu City.

She mentioned that painfully difficult moment in her and Cebu’s political history not so much to spite them but to set the point with which to restart the clock, as it were, in bringing back the luster that was Cebu during her tenure at the Capitol, when the province was number one among all 80 provinces in the country. 

I particularly liked when she made it clear that although she would have wanted to move on, to move forward as anyone in her footsteps would be wont to do, but that we have to go back to that point when we veered away from the path, when Cebu plunged from being the premier province to a dismal 45th place among the 80 provinces in the country.

There are two things we must watch for when she enters the Capitol once again on her first working day. First is her first administrative order. If I remember correctly her first administrative order in 2004 was to establish the Provincial Tourism and Heritage Council, among others, which eventually brought tourism to the towns and the countryside, the first ever in any province in the country. 

Fifteen years ago, after she took her oath of office for the first time, she climbed the top of the Capitol dome to make a point. I believe she will also do something tomorrow to drive home a point. What that will be is something I cannot guess but I am sure climbing the top of the Capitol dome will not be repeated. It will be something equally dramatic.

Even before she took office, Gov. Gwen already wrote to all the mayors of the 44 towns and seven cities under the jurisdiction of the province inviting them to a meeting this coming Wednesday and asking them to bring their tourism officers with them. She is clearly and expectedly hitting the ground running, 

And it is well that the governor and the mayors of Metropolitan Cebu now come from the same political aggrupation; for three very important events will unfold during their terms: the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Cebu on March 26, 2020; the Japanese surrender on August 28, 2020 and, the much bigger one, the 500th anniversary of the Magellan landing in Cebu and Victory at Mactan on April 7 and April 27, 2021, respectively.

Beyond these, however, unity of vision and action will be paramount in solving the two great problems confronting Metro Cebu, which the governor mentioned, among many other tasks she set for herself to accomplish in her speech last night: traffic and waste management. With her actively leading Mega Cebu, the Metro Cebu Development Coordination Board, expect things to move rapidly from here on.

As I wrote in this column on Election Day where I appealed to you dear readers to vote for her and her slate (as well as for Mayor Edgar Labella and his slate), the days of endless lethargy and vision-less governance are finally over whether you like it or not. 

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