Home Featured Article Mayor Edsa: From corporate world to public service

Mayor Edsa: From corporate world to public service

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(First of three parts)

CLARK FREEPORT – He came from the private sector, a corporate man educated in the United States. At 22, he was the youngest department head of San Miguel Corporation (SMC) taking in a big responsibility.

In 1988, he entered public service as a councilor.

Today, City of San Fernando (CSF) Mayor Edwin “Edsa” D. Santiago is seeking reelection for his third term in office believing that he has transformed Pampanga’s capital city into a modern metropolis.

He said when he was elected mayor in 2013, the city’s income was close to P1 billion from a mere P28 million in 1988. But after two terms as mayor, the city’s income is now close to P2 billion, Santiago declared.

“Aku disnan ke anyang councilor ku P28 million yamu ing income na ning San Fernando anyang 1988 y Mayor Pat Guevarra pa kanita kasi alayu pa ing Local Government Code (I came to know, when I was councilor, the income of San Fernando was only P28 million in 1988 under Mayor Pat Guevarra then because there was no Local Government Code yet),” Santiago said.

He added that he went to work as soon as he learned of San Fernando’s meager income despite its being the capital town and its population was increasing.

“Konsehal ku kanita aku ing chairman keng committee of appropriation and ways and means (I was a councilor then and chairman of the committee of appropriation and ways and means),” he recalled.

So, he thought of a way to increase the local source, Santiago said. It was always his belief, he said, that the local source should always be higher than the internal revenue allotment (IRA).

The mayor said this was the same formula that he, as vice mayor, and then mayor Atty. Oscar S. Rodriguez used to raise the income.

He said he told then Rodriguez that before he steps down from office, San Fernando’s income should be P1 billion.

“Ing target mi kanita, sabi ku bayu ka kuldas kailangan bilyunaryu ya ing siyudad (Our target then, I told him before you step down, the city should be a billionaire),” he said.

When Rodriguez stepped down in 2013, San Fernando’s income was P940 million. But still it was close to a billion when he ended his term, Santiago said.

He said they followed the mantra: double the value, double the volume, and their target was incremental at 55 percent local source and 45 percent IRA.

So, every year the local source went higher by 15 percent, he said, so that in the fifth year it is projected to double your income and double the services if the administration is good.

He said their job was made easier because then mayor Rodriguez was surrounded by good men like Engr. Fer Caylao who is also a corporate man.

“Y Tatang Oca kasi yang megumpisa mu naman karetang magaling kalupa nang Fer Caylao who is a corporate man, ampo reng kayabe na (It was Tatang Oca who started getting good men like Fer Caylao… and his team),” the mayor said.

“So bayu ya mayari ing terminu na, miras yang almost P1 billion ing income ning San Fernando (So, before his term ended, the income of San Fernando reached almost P1 billion),” he said.

First 100 days

Santiago said when he became mayor, he made a list to be accomplished for his first 100 days.

Foremost in the list was the collection efficiency because he did not raise taxes. “I want the income to reach P1 billion,” he said.

“Ing collection mu yang kailangan samasan uling etamu kailangan mag-tas buwis anyapin aku kanita no to tax increases,” he said.

The next thing he did was to plant 10,000 trees. “So, I reached my target of P1 billion income without tax increases and planted 10,000 trees in my first 100 days,” he said.

At that time, he recalled, there was a search for excellence among LGUs in terms of business-friendly city.

There was a panel from the private and government sectors who made interviews for about 40 minutes, he said. They asked me why did I declared no to tax increases?

“I replied that my intention was to widen the tax base through investment,” he said. “How can you do that?” they asked him again.

“I told them I intend to lower the cost of doing business and ease of doing business in San Fernando. Getting permits should be fast and it should be in a beautiful place,” he said. “Because the role of the government is not to engage in any business because we believe an LGU is a poor and lousy businessman and manager.”

“Ala ya pang telanan a minasensu (It hasn’t handled anything that developed),” he said. “The role of the government is just to enable them to facilitate economic growth and to support business.”

Now, San Fernando’s income projected by the treasurer is P1.9 billion, Santiago said.

This is the report of the treasurer, Maryanne Bautista, who cannot be dictated and is very conservative, he hastened. Administratively, she is under the city government but functionally, she is under the Department of Finance (DOF), he explained.

The mayor said Bautista’s projection could even be surpassed since the businesses that were earlier given tax incentives will expire on the fifth year so they will now have to pay their taxes and the RPT will increase.

“Midoble nala pu kasi reng investor San Fernando at ela ordinaryung memag invest (The number of investors in San Fernando have doubled and they are not ordinary investors),” he said.

That is why, Santiago said, with the NEDA consultant and the city planning officer, “we revisited the land use plan or zoning law and we also revisited the comprehensive development plan to come up with a master development plan for San Fernando addressing economic development for economic growth.”

Urban planning background

Santiago said he is a former associate of urban planner, Architect Felino Palafox, Jr. that is why he has a background in urban planning.

The mayor said when Palafox did the Megalopolis for Pampanga, he recognized him.

“Si Edwin pala, hindi ko gagalawin ang San Fernando (It’s Edwin so I will not touch San Fernando),” the mayor quoted Palafox as saying.

This surprised Speaker Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo, he said. “So, I told her we worked together 26 years ago and the last project that we did was in Sta. Rosa, Laguna for the Nuvali project of Ayala Land.”

Santiago said even in nearby Angeles City, he introduced condominiums and partnered with the Tinio’s.

“Condominiums became part of our concept in Angeles, for which the late congressman and mayor Tarzan Lazatin was a skeptic, “he remembered. “But I told him, our customers are expats. We have no Pinoy customers.”

Santiago said he was also behind the establishment of the first BPO building outside Clark.

To be continued

 

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