At Large

An ironic ‘boost’ from Duterte

Running for his third and last term, Mayor Antolin “Len Len” Oreta III of Malabon has kept a mostly “local” profile. But in recent days, he received a “boost” of sorts when no less than President Duterte gave him a national profile.

This was when, some days ago in a campaign rally in Malabon, the President “warned” Oreta that he should “clean up” his city of drugs within one month. Or else, Duterte told a cheering audience gathered for the proclamation rally of candidates of the proadministration Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, he would have the mayor arrested and “thrown into Manila Bay.”


Mayor Oreta, who is to politics born being the son of former senator Tessie Aquino Oreta, is puzzled by the President’s assertion but quite sanguine that, in this election season, such accusations would be bandied about.

The youthful-looking Oreta is genuinely puzzled because, according to the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (Icad), nine of the total 21 barangays in Malabon have been declared “drug-cleared.” The Icad is led by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, which has put Malabon at third among cities in Metro Manila with the highest numbers of barangays free from the proliferation of illegal drugs.


Of course, Malabon is not yet totally “drug-free.” But given the encouraging marks of the country’s top antidrug agencies, one would think the mayor deserves words of encouragement, not threats to throw him into Manila Bay.

Indeed, moving away from the drugs scenario which seems to be the President’s sole focus as he campaigns for his candidates, it would seem that Malabon, under the leadership of Mayor Oreta, is well on its way to creating an environment hostile to the proliferation of drugs.

In terms of health, Malabon has brought down the stunting rate from 12 percent in 2015 to 6.9 percent in 2018. Stunting, or the slow physical and mental growth of children, is used as a matrix for the overall health of a population. Lowering the stunting rate means increasing the availability of healthy food and healthy practices.

Another program, the Buntis Chikiting Patrollers or “Butchi Pats,” addresses the nutrition and health of pregnant women and young children, mandating at least eight checkups to lower mortality rates and foster development.

The city government has also partnered with local small eateries and carinderia, enhancing the city’s feeding programs and promoting livelihood among small entrepreneurs.

These efforts have been paired with a scholarship program, the construction of the Ospital ng Malabon, and a Super Health Center to serve poor neighborhoods.

Of course, drugs remain a big problem not just for Malabon but for many other local governments. But the response, it seems to me, should be to create an environment and setting where poor youth and the unemployed are not tempted to do drugs but rather be convinced to do their share in community-building. And more than threats or scare tactics, local government leaders like Oreta deserve encouragement and recognition.


* * *

For your consideration. Given developments over the last decade or so, each of us Filipinos may have either a relative, neighbor or acquaintance who works as an overseas Filipino worker (OFW). One party-list group that has been working for the protection of OFWs is OFW Family party list, an organization founded 18 years ago by the late ambassador Roy Señeres. The party list is now headed by his son Roy Señeres Jr., seeking to continue its mandate of helping overseas workers, including their protection and the promotion of their needs.

Mothers of all ages, circumstances, socioeconomic status and level of education will be represented in Congress through Inang Mahal party list, with former Pangasinan representative Gina de Venecia as the first nominee. Inang Mahal has its roots in a group of mothers who lost their children prematurely, but has grown to cover all areas of concern for mothers and parents. The party, said “Manay” Gina, seeks to be the voice of all mothers in Congress, articulating their needs, concerns, hopes and dreams.

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TAGS: 2019 elections, Antolin Oreta III, At Large, ICAD, Len Len Oreta, Malabon mayoralty, Rina Jimenez-David, Rodrigo Duterte, war on drugs
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