Page last updated at 12:32 Asia/Manila, Wednesday, 23 January 2013 PH
Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn is definitely going to be on my list of Senators in the May 2013 elections. I have seen with my own eyes how his strong and enlightened leadership has transformed the City of Puerto Princesa in a most dramatic way over the last twenty years. I still remember my first trip to what was then just a sleepy town in the very backward province of Palawan. I was invited by the late Senator Ramon Mitra and businessman Jose Alvarez to visit Puerto and the neighboring towns some time in the late 1980s. At that time any visitor to Palawan was still required to take quinine pills against malaria. The road to the underground river was so bad it would have taken us 8 hours or more to travel by car. That was why the Senator decided to fly our group by helicopter to the now famous world heritage that is attracting more than 600 hundred visitors a day (in fact, more want to visit but the limit of 600 had to be set to prevent congestion).
Edward Hagedorn will definitely contribute to the 24-people Senate the indispensable insights of a person who has his feet firmly planted on the ground. While theoretical knowledge is important for formulating laws, there must be a minimum number of personalities in the Senate who can bring down the rest of their colleagues from their respective ivory towers of pure speculative thinking. This is especially important in the field of ecology and environmental protection in which some legislators are wont to exaggerate one dimension of the very complex issue because of their lack of practical experience in expertly balancing the varied and often conflicting interests of all the stakeholders of mother nature or the physical environment.
The accomplishments of Mayor Edward Hagedorn in the field of sustainable development are countless. Let me just enumerate a few to illustrate how he can be a true champion of both inclusive growth and sustainable development if elected to the Senate in May 2013. On April 25, 1994, just two years after taking over as Mayor of Puerto Princesa, Mayor Hagedron received for the people of Puerto the first Macli-Ing Dulag Environmental Achievement Award at the Kalayaan Hall, Malacanang. Just a year earlier, on April 22, 1993 Puerto Princesa was awarded a special Earth Day Award for Wildlife and Protected Area Management by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
More recently, on October 17, 2008, Mayor Hagedorn--together with City Councilor Miguel Cuarderno--received the award of the First ASEAN Environmentally Sustainable Cities in Hanoi, Vietnam. The award was well deserved as verified in a national survey in which the number one stakeholders of the City--the residents of Puerto Princesa--were rated to be the most environmentally conscious in the entire country. The residents are fully aware that what cause global warming and environmental degradation are illegal logging; indiscriminate and irresponsible mining; carbon dioxide emissions caused by factories, power plants and vehicles; and improper solid waste management. Under the leadership of Mayor Hagedorn, the people of Puerto Princesa have cultivated an extraordinary sense of solidarity with the common good which is hard to find in other communities in the Philippines. I have always maintained that the key factor to nurturing this uncommon common good orientation among Filipinos is enlightened and decisive leadership.
More concretely, the measures implemented by Mayor Hagedorn during his long watch as the Chief Executive of the City of Puerto Princesa are as follows:
--Banned logging and mining throughout the City (without taking an inflexible position about mining in other remote parts of the gigantic island of Palawan).
--Institutionalized tree planting and made it consistent with merry making by instituting the "Pista Y Ang Cagueban" or Feast of the Forest and Mangrove Rehabilitation within the "Love Affair with Nature" celebration held annually.
--Established a number of tree nurseries to allow continuous supply of seedlings for reforestation. Under this program, the forest cover of the City increased by 2,086 hectares.
--Implemented the 50/50 scheme to minimize carbon dioxide emissions caused principally by tricycles whose number dropped by 50 percent during his term.
--Disallowed factories emitting carbon monoxide, putting the emphasis in his economic development plan on ecotourism, agriculture and marine-fisheries development. Only light industrial activity has been permitted.
--Use of renewable solar energy at the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park and the City Satellite Clinics.
--Officially adopted the zero-waste management program which aims to ultimately render its Sanitary Landfill redundant in the future.
Needless to say, these accomplishments in protecting and enhancing the environment could have not been possible without intelligent planning, effective implementation, and good governance. In fact, under the leadership of Mayor Hagedorn, the City of Puerto Princesa was cited by the Institute for Solidarity Asia (ISA)--a leading advocate of good governance, especially at the LGU level- as one of the best managed cities in the Philippines. There is no question in my mind that Edward Hagedorn will be an asset to the present and future Administrations if he is elected as Senator for the period 2013 to 2019. For comments, my email address is email@example.com.