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PERFECT FOR LAPU-LAPU

Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Ahong Chan is no perfect leader. But he is no ordinary politician either. Discover why he is considered by many as the perfect leader for the city.

By Godfrey T. Dancel

PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANTHONY HEJIE SURALTA

The number “10” has always been equated with perfection. Incidentally, a local leader in Central Philippines has been given ratings of “perfect 10” by his constituents and admirers from other places alike. Back in 2019, Oponganons—the people of Lapu-Lapu City—saw in Junard “Ahong” Chan the best candidate to lead the city as its local chief executive. That decision proved perfect for the city of about half a million people as Chan buckled down to work and lived up to the various challenges that came his way.

“Inheriting a city that was poorly managed was truly a nightmare,” Chan laments. “Garbage, traffic, and flooding were just a few concerns that I faced upon assumption of office. Then COVID-19 and Typhoon Odette came. These two presented perhaps the most challenging times of my administration as first-time mayor.” How well did Chan perform, and how did his constituents perceive his performance? Suffice it to say that the entire Team Ahong received a fresh clear mandate last May. Clearly, Oponganons consider their second-term local chief executive, a good fit to lead them in the next three years.




JUNARD CHAN MEANS COMPLETE SERVICE

Chan comes well-prepared as he embarks on his second term. His 10-point Agenda as contained in the acronym JUNARD CHAN reflects his style of leadership.

“My brand of leadership is inclusive and participative,” he says. “Inclusive in the sense that I always see to it that every Oponganon gets to avail of the services of the government. This can be best exemplified by the Libreng Serbisyo Program that our administration has initiated,” he asserts, referring to the provision of free services by government agencies in order to address the people’s needs. “[Meanwhile, my leadership is] participative in the sense that I involve the community in the execution of our programs and projects which can be gleaned from the various Bayanihan projects we have accomplished,” he adds.

What exactly does the acronym stand for, and what does it offer the people of Lapu-Lapu City?




1. Just and Fair Society

Well aware of the plight of many Oponganons, Chan has made it his first priority to pursue a just and fair society for his people. He is bent on making discrimination a thing of the past in the city, especially discrimination against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA) community. He highlighted the need to address the sector’s long-standing calls for the enactment of an LGBTQIA code.

The mayor has also asked the Lapu-Lapu City Council to pass their devolution transition plan to pave the way for the devolution of necessary programs from national government agencies. Among the programs to be implemented this year are supplemental feeding and essential services for persons with disability (PWDs), devolved from the Department of Social Welfare and Development; as well as some programs of the Department of Health (DOH). Complete devolution of programs and services by other agencies is expected to be achieved in three years, coinciding with Chan’s three-year term.


2. Unlimited Access to Government Services

Chan wants to ensure that his constituents have unlimited and total access to services being offered by the city government. To be given special attention are residents of Olango Island, who have to take a boat ride to the mainland when they have transactions at the city hall. In line with this, the city government will open a city hall extension in Olango. All frontline agencies and offices will set up satellite offices in said city hall extension, so that Olango residents will be able to easily access services and directly communicate with local government officials.


3. No More Brownouts

The mayor has pledged to continue lighting up Olango Island through solar energy. Solar lamps are to be installed in posts all over the island to ensure the safety of residents. This is in addition to the solar lamps installed in private homes last year, which cut the people’s dependency on generators, candles, and gas lamps for their lighting needs.


4. Allocation of Funds

Chan has clear priorities when it comes to fund allocation. Foremost among these are the expropriation of lots for the Olango cemetery expansion and for the construction of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) building, and the construction of new roads to address the growing traffic problem in the city. With a number of big–ticket infrastructure projects in the pipeline, the local chief executive also wants to make sure that the funds are used judiciously, so that these will not be put to waste.


5. Repair, Restore, Review

Months after Typhoon Odette wreaked havoc on Lapu-Lapu City and neighboring areas, efforts are still ongoing to repair and restore parts of the city. It could be recalled that Typhoon Odette, which hit central Philippines in December 2021, left a path of destruction comparable to that caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. Houses, private and public buildings, and other infrastructure were damaged, and people’s livelihood—already strained by the COVID-19 pandemic—was severely affected. Chan has asked the city council to pass a supplemental budget for rehabilitation efforts, even as he recognized the efforts of private groups in giving financial and material help. He has also cited the need to review the city’s tax code and other revenue-related codes with the end in view of improving revenue collection—a must as additional revenue will mean additional funds for long-term rehabilitation efforts.

To ensure that Oponganons will continue to receive essential services even during disasters, the city’s top leaders also also looking at requiring business establishments to have standby generators. Additional heavy equipment will also be purchased for use in rescue and clearing operations.


6. Desalination Plant Construction

Lapu-Lapu City is one of three areas in Cebu province identified for construction of a desalination plant, meant to solve the city and adjoining areas’ water woes. This is expected to close the demand-and-supply gap for potable water. Barangays Punta Engano and Marigondon as well as Olango Island have been identified as having severe potable water supply problems, and residents will surely benefit from the project once it pushes through.

The planned desalination plant will be a first in the country. It will supply 30 million liters of water to Lapu-Lapu daily, thus ensuring that households and business establishments have sufficient supply of water for various purposes.


7. Construction Projects

Knowing that a good network of roads is essential in pushing for development, Chan has laid down clear plans for big-ticket infrastructure projects in the city. A bridge linking Barangay Sabang and Barangay Pangan-an in Olango, and an elevated highway bridging the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway and Mactan-Cebu International Airport are the two main projects under this facet of Chan’s 10-point agenda. Both projects will cut travel time, while the latter will also lessen vehicular traffic in existing roads. Chan considers flooding as one of the city’s “most pressing concerns.” He says “recent downpours have caused flooding in some communities, rendering our roads impassable.” Fully aware of the danger and negative consequences of flooding, Chan “has already instructed our city engineering office to review existing drainage projects and ensure that there are outfalls where floodwater can drain.” In order to be better able to accommodate constituents flocking to the city hall, a new and bigger structure is also being planned. Chan points to his successful Bayanihan Project as an alternative model for infrastructure projects. “The Bayanihan Project is the realization of projects that cannot be funded by government funds but were made possible through our partnership with the private sector. So far, we have concreted several kilometers of road without spending a single cent from the city coffers. The people in the community themselves volunteered as laborers to help realize the project,” he shares


8. Healthcare and Heightened

Coastal Patrol With the completion of phase two of the Lapu-Lapu City Hospital (LCH) in 2019, Chan is focusing on the purchase of necessary equipment, reagents, and other supplies. Phase three of the hospital project will cover completion of the third and fourth floors of the hospital. Having secured the commitment of some senators for funding, Chan is confident that this part of the project will soon become reality. Chan looks back at his experience providing healthcare services at the height of the pandemic. “The record would speak for itself,” he states.” I was one of the local chief executives who were visibly active during the pandemic notwithstanding the risk of contracting COVID-19. In fact, I did contract COVID-19 but it did not stop us from performing our duties. We went around the locked down communities to personally deliver food, medicines, infant milk, and other basic commodities to the people. With our initiatives to arrest COVID-19, and with the cooperation of the Oponganons in adhering to health protocols, we were able to reduce our cases.” Meanwhile, additional budget will also be allocated for heightened coastal patrol along Hilutungan Channel to better protect marine life such as dolphins, sea turtles, and whale sharks. In addition, other coastal areas and dive spots damaged by Typhoon Odette will also be rehabilitated. Chan has taken it upon himself to ensure that marine life and other natural wonders are protected. “Just as we benefit from them [through ecotourism], so should we make sure that they are protected,” he stresses.


9. Amending the Investment Code

To further fuel economic growth in the city, Chan is pushing for the amendment and updating of their investment code. He has also highlighted the need for the approval of other relevant codes and resource use plans. All these will be critical in attracting local and foreign investors to the city.


10. Necessary Support

Even as Chan pushes for economic growth and development, he also never loses sight of the need to ensure the welfare of all sectors in the city.

Fisherfolk, the mayor says, would benefit from new or additional opportunities like seaweed farming and raising fish in fish pens. Meanwhile, city government employees would also benefit from the planned salary adjustment.

As for the youth and children, Chan has assured that the city government is in constant communication with Department of Education (DepEd) officials to ensure the safety of students who have gone back to face-to-face classes. The 2022 budget also has provision for the construction and repair of gyms and multi-purpose facilities the youth could use for sports and other activities.


LAPU-LAPU TEN YEARS FROM NOW

The modernization of the city and improvement in the lives of Oponganons are part of Chan’s vision of transforming the city into a modern community where residents enjoy a high standard of living. “It has always been my vision to make Lapu-Lapu City the next Singapore,” Chan stresses. He is looking at a timetable of ten years for this vision to be fully realized. After all, the seeds of development have been planted, and need only to be nurtured to bear fruit. “I intend to build a boardwalk near the First Cebu-Mactan Bridge, akin to that of Singapore,” the mayor says when asked about related infrastructure projects. Said boardwalk will be constructed along the coast of Barangays Pajo and Pusok.

Chan’s journey in the field of public service has not been all smooth sailing. “I became a city councilor, then gunned for the mayoralty but lost,” he recalls. “Eventually I became a twoterm barangay captain of Barangay Pajo before getting elected as mayor of Lapu- Lapu City [in 2019]. Then the rest is history.” Chan may not be a perfect leader, but he has proven his being the perfect leader for Lapu-Lapu City under the present circumstances. His entire slate swept the recent elections, proof of the Oponganons’ trust in him and his team. His perfect partnership with Congresswoman Cindi Chan is also expected to make development efforts proceed more smoothly.

A major component of this ambitious goal, however, is the 128-hectare Canjulao development project. More than 100 hectares will host an industrial and commercial center, while about 20 percent or 25 hectares of the area has been set aside for socialized housing. The latter component is expected to be completed next year, and will benefit 3000 households presently residing along the city’s shorelines.

The housing project is the realization of the provision of a March 2003 presidential proclamation allocating a 25-hectare parcel of land in Barangay Canjulao for urban development and socialized housing.


LOOKING BACK

Chan had a normal childhood just like any other kid back then. “I grew up playing with other kids in my neighborhood every after school. It was basically school and play. Becoming mayor never crossed my mind back in those days. Not until I got involved as campaign volunteer shortly after graduating from college. That’s when my interest in politics was awakened,” he reveals.

Chan’s journey in the field of public service has not been all smooth sailing. “I became a city councilor, then gunned for the mayoralty but lost,” he recalls. “Eventually I became a two-term barangay captain of Barangay Pajo before getting elected as mayor of Lapu-Lapu City [in 2019]. Then the rest is history.”

“I would say that winning as mayor in my first term was most memorable to me,” he adds. “I was up against a formidable opponent with a well-oiled machinery. Many considered it a David and Goliath fight. By God’s grace and the support of the Oponganons, we emerged victorious. Perhaps in general, that was the most memorable event in my life.”


PERFECT FOCUS

Chan may not be a perfect leader, but he has proven his being the perfect leader for Lapu-Lapu City under the present circumstances. His entire slate swept the recent elections, proof of the Oponganons’ trust in him and his team. His perfect partnership with Congresswoman Cindi Chan is also expected to make development efforts proceed more smoothly.

With the way his life as a public servant has been in the last few years, Chan this early is being asked about his political plans for the foreseeable future. He would rather not talk about such for now.

“Let’s just work for now,” he avers. “We have so much work to do. Thinking about political plans is not among my priorities now. We are gaining momentum with our pandemic recovery efforts. I don’t want to get distracted by discussions about politics. There is always time for that,” he concludes. The number “10” has always been equated with perfection. Incidentally, a local leader in Central Philippines has been given ratings of “perfect 10” by his constituents and admirers from other places alike. Back in 2019, Oponganons—the people of Lapu-Lapu City—saw in Junard “Ahong” Chan the best candidate to lead the city as its local chief executive. That decision proved perfect for the city of about half a million people as Chan buckled down to work and lived up to the various challenges that came his way.

“Inheriting a city that was poorly managed was truly a nightmare,” Chan laments. “Garbage, traffic, and flooding were just a few concerns that I faced upon assumption of office. Then COVID-19 and Typhoon Odette came. These two presented perhaps the most challenging times of my administration as first-time mayor.”

How well did Chan perform, and how did his constituents perceive his performance? Suffice it to say that the entire Team Ahong received a fresh clear mandate last May. Clearly, Oponganons consider their second-term local chief executive, a good fit to lead them in the next three years.




JUNARD CHAN MEANS COMPLETE SERVICE

Chan comes well-prepared as he embarks on his second term. His 10-point Agenda as contained in the acronym JUNARD CHAN reflects his style of leadership.

“My brand of leadership is inclusive and participative,” he says. “Inclusive in the sense that I always see to it that every Oponganon gets to avail of the services of the government. This can be best exemplified by the Libreng Serbisyo Program that our administration has initiated,” he asserts, referring to the provision of free services by government agencies in order to address the people’s needs. “[Meanwhile, my leadership is] participative in the sense that I involve the community in the execution of our programs and projects which can be gleaned from the various Bayanihan projects we have accomplished,” he adds.

What exactly does the acronym stand for, and what does it offer the people of Lapu-Lapu City?


1. Just and Fair Society

Well aware of the plight of many Oponganons, Chan has made it his first priority to pursue a just and fair society for his people. He is bent on making discrimination a thing of the past in the city, especially discrimination against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA) community. He highlighted the need to address the sector’s long-standing calls for the enactment of an LGBTQIA code.

The mayor has also asked the Lapu-Lapu City Council to pass their devolution transition plan to pave the way for the devolution of necessary programs from national government agencies. Among the programs to be implemented this year are supplemental feeding and essential services for persons with disability (PWDs), devolved from the Department of Social Welfare and Development; as well as some programs of the Department of Health (DOH). Complete devolution of programs and services by other agencies is expected to be achieved in three years, coinciding with Chan’s three-year term.


2. Unlimited Access to Government Services

Chan wants to ensure that his constituents have unlimited and total access to services being offered by the city government. To be given special attention are residents of Olango Island, who have to take a boat ride to the mainland when they have transactions at the city hall. In line with this, the city government will open a city hall extension in Olango. All frontline agencies and offices will set up satellite offices in said city hall extension, so that Olango residents will be able to easily access services and directly communicate with local government officials.


3. No More Brownouts

The mayor has pledged to continue lighting up Olango Island through solar energy. Solar lamps are to be installed in posts all over the island to ensure the safety of residents. This is in addition to the solar lamps installed in private homes last year, which cut the people’s dependency on generators, candles, and gas lamps for their lighting needs.


4. Allocation of Funds

Chan has clear priorities when it comes to fund allocation. Foremost among these are the expropriation of lots for the Olango cemetery expansion and for the construction of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) building, and the construction of new roads to address the growing traffic problem in the city. With a number of big–ticket infrastructure projects in the pipeline, the local chief executive also wants to make sure that the funds are used judiciously, so that these will not be put to waste.


5. Repair, Restore, Review

Months after Typhoon Odette wreaked havoc on Lapu-Lapu City and neighboring areas, efforts are still ongoing to repair and restore parts of the city. It could be recalled that Typhoon Odette, which hit central Philippines in December 2021, left a path of destruction comparable to that caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. Houses, private and public buildings, and other infrastructure were damaged, and people’s livelihood—already strained by the COVID-19 pandemic—was severely affected. Chan has asked the city council to pass a supplemental budget for rehabilitation efforts, even as he recognized the efforts of private groups in giving financial and material help. He has also cited the need to review the city’s tax code and other revenue-related codes with the end in view of improving revenue collection—a must as additional revenue will mean additional funds for long-term rehabilitation efforts.

To ensure that Oponganons will continue to receive essential services even during disasters, the city’s top leaders also also looking at requiring business establishments to have standby generators.

Additional heavy equipment will also be purchased for use in rescue and clearing operations.


6. Desalination Plant Construction

Lapu-Lapu City is one of three areas in Cebu province identified for construction of a desalination plant, meant to solve the city and adjoining areas’ water woes. This is expected to close the demand-and-supply gap for potable water. Barangays Punta Engano and Marigondon as well as Olango Island have been identified as having severe potable water supply problems, and residents will surely benefit from the project once it pushes through.

The planned desalination plant will be a first in the country. It will supply 30 million liters of water to Lapu-Lapu daily, thus ensuring that households and business establishments have sufficient supply of water for various purposes.


7. Construction Projects

Knowing that a good network of roads is essential in pushing for development, Chan has laid down clear plans for big-ticket infrastructure projects in the city. A bridge linking Barangay Sabang and Barangay Pangan-an in Olango, and an elevated highway bridging the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway and Mactan-Cebu International Airport are the two main projects under this facet of Chan’s 10-point agenda. Both projects will cut travel time, while the latter will also lessen vehicular traffic in existing roads. Chan considers flooding as one of the city’s “most pressing concerns.” He says “recent downpours have caused flooding in some communities, rendering our roads impassable.” Fully aware of the danger and negative consequences of flooding, Chan “has already instructed our city engineering office to review existing drainage projects and ensure that there are outfalls where floodwater can drain.” In order to be better able to accommodate constituents flocking to the city hall, a new and bigger structure is also being planned.

Chan points to his successful Bayanihan Project as an alternative model for infrastructure projects. “The Bayanihan Project is the realization of projects that cannot be funded by government funds but were made possible through our partnership with the private sector. So far, we have concreted several kilometers of road without spending a single cent from the city coffers. The people in the community themselves volunteered as laborers to help realize the project,” he shares


8. Healthcare and Heightened

Coastal Patrol With the completion of phase two of the Lapu-Lapu City Hospital (LCH) in 2019, Chan is focusing on the purchase of necessary equipment, reagents, and other supplies. Phase three of the hospital project will cover completion of the third and fourth floors of the hospital. Having secured the commitment of some senators for funding, Chan is confident that this part of the project will soon become reality.

Chan looks back at his experience providing healthcare services at the height of the pandemic. “The record would speak for itself,” he states.” I was one of the local chief executives who were visibly active during the pandemic notwithstanding the risk of contracting COVID-19. In fact, I did contract COVID-19 but it did not stop us from performing our duties. We went around the locked down communities to personally deliver food, medicines, infant milk, and other basic commodities to the people. With our initiatives to arrest COVID-19, and with the cooperation of the Oponganons in adhering to health protocols, we were able to reduce our cases.”

Meanwhile, additional budget will also be allocated for heightened coastal patrol along Hilutungan Channel to better protect marine life such as dolphins, sea turtles, and whale sharks. In addition, other coastal areas and dive spots damaged by Typhoon Odette will also be rehabilitated. Chan has taken it upon himself to ensure that marine life and other natural wonders are protected. “Just as we benefit from them [through ecotourism], so should we make sure that they are protected,” he stresses.


9. Amending the Investment Code

To further fuel economic growth in the city, Chan is pushing for the amendment and updating of their investment code. He has also highlighted the need for the approval of other relevant codes and resource use plans. All these will be critical in attracting local and foreign investors to the city.


10. Necessary Support

Even as Chan pushes for economic growth and development, he also never loses sight of the need to ensure the welfare of all sectors in the city.

Fisherfolk, the mayor says, would benefit from new or additional opportunities like seaweed farming and raising fish in fish pens. Meanwhile, city government employees would also benefit from the planned salary adjustment.

As for the youth and children, Chan has assured that the city government is in constant communication with Department of Education (DepEd) officials to ensure the safety of students who have gone back to face-to-face classes. The 2022 budget also has provision for the construction and repair of gyms and multi-purpose facilities the youth could use for sports and other activities.


LAPU-LAPU TEN YEARS FROM NOW

The modernization of the city and improvement in the lives of Oponganons are part of Chan’s vision of transforming the city into a modern community where residents enjoy a high standard of living.

“It has always been my vision to make Lapu-Lapu City the next Singapore,” Chan stresses. He is looking at a timetable of ten years for this vision to be fully realized. After all, the seeds of development have been planted, and need only to be nurtured to bear fruit.

“I intend to build a boardwalk near the First Cebu-Mactan Bridge, akin to that of Singapore,” the mayor says when asked about related infrastructure projects. Said boardwalk will be constructed along the coast of Barangays Pajo and Pusok.

Chan’s journey in the field of public service has not been all smooth sailing. “I became a city councilor, then gunned for the mayoralty but lost,” he recalls. “Eventually I became a twoterm barangay captain of Barangay Pajo before getting elected as mayor of Lapu- Lapu City [in 2019]. Then the rest is history.”

Chan may not be a perfect leader, but he has proven his being the perfect leader for Lapu-Lapu City under the present circumstances. His entire slate swept the recent elections, proof of the Oponganons’ trust in him and his team. His perfect partnership with Congresswoman Cindi Chan is also expected to make development efforts proceed more smoothly. A major component of this ambitious goal, however, is the 128-hectare Canjulao development project. More than 100 hectares will host an industrial and commercial center, while about 20 percent or 25 hectares of the area has been set aside for socialized housing. The latter component is expected to be completed next year, and will benefit 3000 households presently residing along the city’s shorelines.

The housing project is the realization of the provision of a March 2003 presidential proclamation allocating a 25-hectare parcel of land in Barangay Canjulao for urban development and socialized housing.


LOOKING BACK

Chan had a normal childhood just like any other kid back then. “I grew up playing with other kids in my neighborhood every after school. It was basically school and play. Becoming mayor never crossed my mind back in those days. Not until I got involved as campaign volunteer shortly after graduating from college. That’s when my interest in politics was awakened,” he reveals. Chan’s journey in the field of public service has not been all smooth sailing. “I became a city councilor, then gunned for the mayoralty but lost,” he recalls. “Eventually I became a two-term barangay captain of Barangay Pajo before getting elected as mayor of Lapu-Lapu City [in 2019]. Then the rest is history.”

“I would say that winning as mayor in my first term was most memorable to me,” he adds. “I was up against a formidable opponent with a well-oiled machinery. Many considered it a David and Goliath fight. By God’s grace and the support of the Oponganons, we emerged victorious. Perhaps in general, that was the most memorable event in my life.”


PERFECT FOCUS

Chan may not be a perfect leader, but he has proven his being the perfect leader for Lapu-Lapu City under the present circumstances. His entire slate swept the recent elections, proof of the Oponganons’ trust in him and his team. His perfect partnership with Congresswoman Cindi Chan is also expected to make development efforts proceed more smoothly. With the way his life as a public servant has been in the last few years, Chan this early is being asked about his political plans for the foreseeable future. He would rather not talk about such for now. “Let’s just work for now,” he avers. “We have so much work to do. Thinking about political plans is not among my priorities now. We are gaining momentum with our pandemic recovery efforts. I don’t want to get distracted by discussions about politics. There is always time for that,” he concludes.



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