NO OTHER city chief executive here in recent, if fading, memory has received as many courtesy callers in less than a week in office than Mayor Vilma B. Caluag. As duly recorded in the city’s CIO FB page
Only into her third full working day on July 6, Caluag had already welcomed to her office heads of regional government agencies and a professional group.
At surface level, this “interest to call” can be, as indeed it has been, ascribed to her novelty: As much to her being the first-ever lady mayor of the city as to her signature duds, shoes, and bags. It’s not every day to see just any hizzoner or lady official hereabouts holding office dressed to the nines in Gucci and Valentino, shod in Balenciaga, a Louis Vuitton in hand or, as one photo shows, serving as centerpiece – of attention – of a meeting’s presidential table. All this topped by the blinding brilliance of the diamonds studding her ears and lacing her neck, and on her wrist…is that a Patek Philippe?
Aye, only Vilma, mayor or wife to the devoted Melchor.
Past the seeming ostentatious display of luxury, there is the essential Ate Vi, plain public servant wanting so much to achieve much more for her constituency, from the barangay to the city.
No simple sosyal visits, it is not all hi, hello, pose, shoot, thank you, and have a nice day, there is to it at the mayor’s office of late. There obtains that higher call for social responsibility, for service to society.
JBLMGH. With the department heads of the Jose B. Lingad Memorial General Hospital led by their chief Dr. Monserrat S. Chichioco, the mayor presented her health programs such as the free dialysis treatments and the assurance that all Fernandinos will get the medical service they need at an affordable price, if not gratis. To which Chichioco committed to help, in equipment for medical procedures or facilities, even as she noted that nearly 90% of the regional hospital’s Kapampangan patients are from the City of San Fernando.
DPWH. At the call of the DPWH-3 Pampanga team led by Engr. Juana Faye Magpayo, Caluag was enthused about the road widening works along Jose Abad Santos Avenue. This, even as she appealed to the agency give priority to the rehabilitation of damaged roads and declogging of drainages to relieve road flooding.
“Sopan yu ku pu, nung nanu ing kailangan bang aumpisan at mabilis tamung agawa rening proyektu uling pangaku tamu kareng Fernandino a bayu pa man ing first 100 days tamu panamdaman dana ing pamag bayu,” she said.
DILG. At their turn, DILG-3 director Karl Caesar R. Rimando, assistant RD Jay E. Timbreza, and DILG- Pampanga director Myra Moral-Soriano received a briefing on what tangibles Caluag has set to accomplish within her first 100 days, as well as the priority programs, including the centralized ID Card Database system that will categorize and identify the medical or financial needs of every Fernandino, with special emphasis on indigents, senior citizens, PWDs, and solo parents.
DSWD. The city’s marginalized sectors were the very focus of discussion during the call of the DSWD Pampanga Provincial Extension Office. Caluag asked the DSWD to prioritize and raise the budget for the city social welfare and development office specifically for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps): “Buri ku pu sana balang indigent o mangailangang saup kening syudad San Fernando adinan tamu.” It was noted that as of May 30,2022, there were 3,405 active Fernandino beneficiaries of 4Ps.
PICPA. The Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA) Pampanga Chapter pledged its support to the city administration’s programs, notably the continuation of the free seminars and trainings covering basic accounting, taxation, and costing for Fernandino small and micro enterprises. While thanking the organization for the support, Caluag urged the members to help in the city’s efforts to convince local businesses and individuals to pay taxes correctly and on-time.
BIR. Taxes, naturally, comprised the main topic in the call of the officers of BIR-4A. “Reng Fernandinu dapat akit da ing puntalan da reng taxes at budget tamu,” exhorted Caluag as she asked the agency’s help to study and asses the city’s current tax collection which will be the foundation of her administration’s programs.
She also broached the idea of a third-party system whereby past and future tax assessments are reviewed to ensure above-board transactions. The BIR-4A pledged support to help the city in terms of raising the revenue collection while assuring ease of services and address any red tape concerns.
With a keen eye to an absolute end to that bureaucratic bane that foments anomalies and corruption, Caluag has taken the initiative to establish in her administration an anti-red tape committee.
Here, an enabling measure is required from the city council. And Caluag, in her experience as chair of the city’s premier barangay and ex-officio member of the city council, knows only too well the partnership required of the executive and the legislative bodies for the city to move even but an inch. Right on Day One, the mayor made an impassioned call at the SP hall for “unity and harmonious relationship” for the sake of the Fernandino.
After the dust of the May 9 elections settled, an appeal in the local papers was sounded by former three-term city mayor Rey B. Aquino to give the then-just proclaimed Caluag time and opportunity to prove herself.
“People may have doubts on whether the new city mayor, the first woman at that, will be up to the challenge of the position, but she deserves the chance to prove her worth at the very least,” Aquino said.
The turn of events at city hall, this early, shows Doc Rey has the least to worry. We keep our fingers crossed. That Louis Vuitton though haunts me so. (All photos from CSFP-CIO FB page)