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THE SERBISYONG MALIKSI LEGACY

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Imus City Mayor Maliksi caps off his illustrious two-decade-long political career with a legacy of service and excellence.

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BY FRAULEIN OLAVARIO

PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANIEL SORIANO

As Emmanuel Maliksi faces the curtain call of his term as mayor of the City of Imus, he leaves the seat with nothing short of pride. After devoting over two decades to public service beginning in 2001, he peacefully recollects about his servant leadership with the conviction that he is leaving a legacy worth remembering.


“Handang-handa naman tayong [umalis sa puwesto] at masaya tayong nabigyan tayo ng pagkakataong makapagserbisyo. At noong nagserbisyo tayo, hindi naman tayo nagpabandying-bandying lang (I’m ready to leave my post and I’m glad that I was given the opportunity to serve. And as we served, we didn’t lollygag),” Maliksi says.


TRANSFORMING IMUS

At the onset of his first term as mayor in July 2007, Maliksi, through his seven-point agenda, immediately responded to his constituents’ needs by transforming Imus into one of the most progressive municipalities in the province of Cavite.


His comprehensive plan focused on job generation; livelihood generation; peace and order; education and health; culture and tourism; environment; and strengthening of ties between local government units (LGUs) and various non-government organizations (NGOs) for the betterment of Imuseños.


The richness of the cultural heritage of Imus— the site of two major Katipunan victories during the Philippine revolution against Spain—was not lost on Maliksi, who worked for the designation of Imus as the Flag Capital of the Philippines.


He started the celebration of the Wagayway Festival on May 28, 2008 to commemorate the very first unfurling of the Philippine flag after the Philippine Revolutionary Army defeated the Spanish forces in the Battle of Alapan in Imus in 1898. Maliksi’s various advocacies and programs led to the transformation of the municipality into a city in 2012. Numerous awards and citations serve as testaments to Maliksi’s slogan, Epektibong Lingkod Mamamayan (ELM). These include being inducted into the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) Award Hall of Fame by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the 2017 Seal of Child-Friendly Local Governance by the Council for the Welfare of Children, and the 2017 Philippine Quality Challenge Award by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Aside from being an exemplary public servant, he was also awarded Tanyag na Ulirang Ama by the Ulirang Ama Foundation in 2018.


Imus clinched 2nd place in Gawad Kalasag in CALABARZON by the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) on January 14, 2016, as well as the National Anti-Drug Abuse Council (ADAC) Performance Silver Award on December 29, 2018, and Good Financial Housekeeping from 2016 up to 2021. Dubbed as the City of the Future, Imus was also recognized as the Most Competitive Component City in the Province of Cavite in 2016, and 3rd Most Economically Dynamic Component City in the Philippines on the Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI) in 2018. Moreover, the city was also recognized as an Oustanding Local Government Unit by Meralco on March 9, 2017. “We’re one of the most awarded cities, not just in our province, but in the entire region. That’s in all aspects of public governance,” Maliksi remarks. “And they wouldn’t give us commendations and awards if we don’t have any good programs to show for such, right? If we were just given an award once, you could probably say it’s just by chance. But winning various awards in consecutive years, that’s something else,” he adds.


THROUGH UNITY AND COOPERATION

Maliksi commends a particular group for their help in making sure he succeeds as the city’s top leader. “Of course, our barangay officials contributed a lot to this success because our programs were functional all the way down to the lowest levels. You could see that they imbibed the culture of service and excellence that we promote; you could see that they really follow our lead,” he stresses.


The multi-sectoral cooperation Maliksi’s administration enjoyed is actually a result of his brand of governance that puts a premium on people empowerment. He sees this as the centerpiece of his governance, emboldening the communities and various sectors— especially the minorities—in voicing their opinions. This, in turn, makes governance smoother as the people become active participants throughout the course of their programs and policies. Not involving the various communities, he says, is the problem of many LGUs, including the national government. He laments that national agencies often cascade programs down to the LGUs without even knowing the reality on the ground. The difference, he stresses, is when leaders empower the people, they are able to hear the real problems plaguing the communities which therefore helps determine how the government is run.


To help boost the performance of Imus’ 97 barangays, Maliksi introduced the criteria and guidelines for the Barangay SGLG award, which recognizes the best-performing barangays around the country.


“It’s like a report card that they need to follow. They don’t have to think of programs, they just need to align their barangay programs with that of the city and national governments. And we could see clearly then where they need help. We could also see which barangays are struggling and which are excelling. Those that excel could win regional and provincial awards, right? They just need the right support and to be given focus,” Maliksi says.


RESPONDING TO COVID-19 Just as the entire nation was plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic, his administration had to maneuver not only to fight the virus but also to continue the effective, efficient, and appropriate delivery of public goods and services. “It was such a huge adjustment because almost all of our programs which were good to go had to be modified. But, in hindsight, the situation revealed which leaders are truly great in times of crisis, right? And Imus was one of the cities that handled the crisis well right from the onset,” Maliksi shares. In fact, the City of Imus was the first city in the country to implement the drive-through vaccination program in Robinsons Imus through the initiative of Mayor Maliksi.


Among the city’s programs on COVID-19 are the establishment of the City of Imus’ Molecular Laboratory, the second LGUoperated COVID-19 testing facility in the country following Marikina City, and the first in the province of Cavite; 24/7 emergency hotlines for citizens with COVID-19 symptoms; the City of Imus field hospital at the Ospital ng Imus—another first in Cavite—comprising two isolation tents with a 10-bed capacity for Persons Under Investigation (PUIs); staging areas in each cluster for the proper handling of PUIs and providing the necessary medical response to every patient; and testing booths for frontliners, PUIs and the most vulnerable sectors of the community.


Maliksi reveals that they were able to immediately establish an Emergency Operations Center (EOC). They treated the COVID-19 pandemic as a disaster through their whole-of-city approach, mobilizing their Incident Command Center (ICC), Barangay Health and Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs), disaster office, city health office, and more. This, he says, helped safekeep the health and safety of the barangay officials since the people did not all rush to barangay centers.


To cap off his final term, Maliksi saw through the implementation of his eight-point agenda, featuring his legacy projects centered on modern, green, and sustainable programs, including wellness centers and subsidies for senior citizens; organic urban farming; e-vehicles for teachers; new government center and Ospital ng Imus; Cognitive Behavioral Therapy by the City of Imus AntiDrug Abuse Council (CIADAC) for drug surrenderees; Eskwela Kooperatiba (EK), gaining for Imus the recognition as the Lab Coop Capital of the Philippines by the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA); and the Green Schools Program, a greening concept that promotes environmental protection through installation of solar panels, rainwater harvesters, sewage treatment plants, provision of e-vehicles for all public schools in the city, and government housing that is yet to be implemented.


The mayor reveals that the last initiative would also help the children of Imus appreciate the value of renewable energy and the importance of taking care of the environment. Especially with the solar panels, since students were not going to class physically, the schools were also not gaining much income. But with the panels, their bills were also lessened. In fact, Maliksi reveals that they received a commendation from Meralco. Since the city is operating in a grid-tie set up, the excess electricity generated by the solar panels were then funelled to the grid, helping other houses get electricity. These and all the city’s environmental initiatives harvested an Environmental Compliance Audit Platinum Award from 2018 to 2021.


LOOKING BACK

Several decades back, Maliksi shunned the idea of entering politics and following the footsteps of his father, the late former Cavite Governor Erineo “Ayong” Maliksi. He clearly saw how devoting oneself to public service entails sacrifices. “Habang lumalaki ako nakita ko ‘yung father ko na parang sobrang busy. There came a point na para lamang makasama namin siya, kailangan yata kami mag-schedule pa. Kaya parang ayoko ng ganoon para sa sarili ko (I grew up seeing how busy my father got. There came a point where, in order to spend some time with him, we had to set a schedule. I thought then that it’s not something I want for myself),” he says. “My father at that time also was against the idea [of me entering politics]. So when he was about to end his term as municipal mayor of Imus and run for Congress, he bucked suggestions for me to run as vice mayor. I only realized the wisdom in his decision when I was already in politics myself and I realized that it really is not easy. The life of a politician is really difficult,” he adds.

After taking up BS Psychology at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman with the intent of becoming a doctor, Maliksi had a change of heart after his involvement in the Alpha Phi Beta fraternity, and his exposure and active participation in various civil society, public, and socio-civic organizations, such as the Rotary Club, Imus Business Club, Safety Organizations of the Philippines, Inc., and Amnesty International.


He completed his master’s degree in Public Administration before embarking on what would be a long political career in 2001. To this day, it is his father’s advice that serves as his guiding principle in fulfilling his duties as a servant to the people.


“Lagi niya ‘kong sinasabihan tungkol doon sa prinsipyo na dapat talaga ‘yung totoong pagseserbisyo, may puso ka sa pagtulong at pagseserbisyo sa tao (He would always tell me about the principle that true service is only possible if you have the heart for genuinely helping others),” Maliksi fondly recalls.


He further laments that it seems this is often forgotten now by politicians who often enter politics not to help others but to further their personal interests. While Buklod Filipino Partylist, of which he was the first nominee, did not make it to the winning circle in the recently concluded 2022 elections, he can still proudly look back on his 21 years in the office knowing that he has effectively sealed his legacy of service and excellence—the foundation he hopes the next administration would build on.


“Depende syempre sa susunod ‘yan kung ipagpapatuloy. Sana maipagpatuloy. Sana mahigitan pa nila ‘yung mga nagawa natin, ‘di ba? Kasi nagawa na natin, na-prepare na natin yung base. Patuloy na lang dapat, pataas nang pataas na (It would depend on the next mayor if they’ll continue it. But I hope they do. I hope they even surpass what we’ve achieved, right? Because we already laid down the foundation. It should be continued from here, just make things better and better).”


IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY

There seems to be no specific course or training to undergo if you want to be a public servant. Although knowledge and skills are already given to make one’s service outstanding, it also serves as a big advantage when surrounded by those who already have experience in serving and leading the people. Even before being officially part of the local government unit (LGU), Maliksi was already accustomed to his father’s public service work. So when it was Maliksi’s turn to lead the city, adjusting was not much of a challenge for him. Aside from him learning the strategies of excellent service, his father who was also a former mayor of Imus taught him the unspoken rule of politics, “Kami nga, ayaw ng father ko na mai-involve ka sa, for example, ‘yung family, laging nandoon sa city hall, nakikialam [sa opisyal na trabaho]. Never kaming pinalaki nang ganoon, (My father didn’t want us to always be seen at the city hall, meddling [in official work]; we were taught not to act that way).”


Maliksi shares that although he was closely involved in his father’s political activities, he made sure that he was hands-off when it came to actually doing the work of the mayor. He specifies that his involvement was limited to sociocivic organizations, public organizations, and civil society organizations. “Kaya pati si misis, si Jelyn, alam niya na, hindi siya pumupunta sa City Hall. Pumupunta siya pag may mga occassions kasi dapat kasama ko talaga siya. Pero ‘yung talagang nakikialam, hindi niya ginawa ‘yun. (Even my wife knows that she should not be in the municipal hall everytime except when there are occassions, they have to be here of course but she doesn’t involve herself in decision-making).”


Maliksi supports this learning with an explanation that while relatives are there to support, they should not be the ones doing the task of the mayor, deciding on how the city should be governed. It is this distinct kind of leadership that has earned him the Exemplary Award for Public Service given by the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) on April 28, 2019.


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