Manila: A week after assuming the post of the city’s chief executive, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno has drawn praise for taking steps to “clean up” the capital.
Moreno, whose real name is “Francisco Damagoso”, won over two-term mayor Joseph Estrada, the former President, in elections last May. But just as the new chief executive has yet to warm in his new seat, he unleashed a raft of improvements aimed at delivering on is campaign promise of “cleaning up” the capital and restoring it to its former glory.
On his second day in office on July 2, Moreno cracked the whip on flea market vendors of downtown Divisoria marching through the thoroughfares of the old mercantile district with a demolition crew, and reclaiming the streets from street vendors that had clogged the thoroughfares.
Divisoria had been the traditional commercial hub of the capital and its surrounding environs but for decades, but it had grown choked as ill-disciplined vendors claimed the main road, Recto Avenue, to hawk their merchandise.
The mayor said syndicates had been making money from pay-offs from vendors.
“The syndicate that hold the vendors in Divisoria had offered me P5 million (Dh357,649) just so they can continue with their activities of using the thoroughfare for their business. I turned it down,” he said.
“If Divisoria gets messed up again, then that only means that I had been bribed,” he said.
Moreno also cleaned up the similarly vendor choked Blumentritt and Quiapo district.
Divisoria, Blumentritt and Quiapo had the reputation of being the backwater, seedy and ugly face of the city. These are the places where the chances of newcomers getting their pockets picked or getting mugged, are high.
Moreno also ordered the clean-up of waterways and also cracked down on illegally built village watchmen outposts, demolishing these structures that sometimes serve as haven for unlawful activities.
Moreno’s actions earned praise from Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano who said the new executive is so-far doing well on delivering on his promise of giving Manila a facelift.
“Manila is the showcase of the Philippines. It is the first place foreigners see when they come to our country, so I’m pleased that in the first week of his administration, Mayor Isko has already shown that the challenges of the city are not insurmountable and can be addressed with political will and commitment,” he said, adding that Moreno “had hit the ground running.”
According to Ano, the challenge that Moreno now faces is sustaining these initiatives.
“We hope that the actions of Mayor Isko will inspire other local chief executives in other parts of the country to follow his example and to similarly show decisive leadership in bringing about change in their communities because that is what the people expect,” he said.