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Mayor Aleli-3

Mayor Fe “Bubut” Brondial scales new heights as the lady chief of the Municipality of Socorro, Oriental Mindoro and as National President of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines

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It takes a certain kind of person to lead other leaders. Some would probably wonder why a lady from a humble countryside in Mindoro was elected to become National President of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP). Perhaps it’s because of her long, impressive record as a public servant. Or perhaps because of her strong alliance with the president. It turns out, both are true.

“Proud ako kasi pinagkatiwalaan ako ng mga mayors. (I’m proud because the mayors have given me their trust),” says Socorro, Oriental Mindoro Mayor Maria Fe “Bubut” Villar Brondial, who was sworn in last October 2016.
She was elected unopposed by 66 out of the country’s 82 LMP Chapter Presidents, who were present at the event.

According to Felix Catarata, the LMP Secretariat, “The mayors believe that a National President must be able to speak to the President of the Republic in order to articulate the concerns of the mayors.” President Rodrigo Duterte has also expressed his wishes for Mayor Bubut to lead LMP. “The LMP, although independent and not a government agency, almost always abides by the wishes of the President. It has been the tradition, and Mayor Bubut’s case was no exemption,” says Catarata.

In addition, Mayor Bubut “is a consultative and consensual leader. Her ability to get the consensus of the mayors on issues, and her capacity to listen to their concerns are qualities that endear her to the mayors,” Catarata explains.

According to its vision statement, LMP was created “to provide the municipalities, through the
mayors, with relevant and adaptive best practices, linkages with pertinent international and local organizations, capacity development, research, and advocacy services.”

On the occasion of Socorro’s 55th founding anniversary, Mayor Bubut had the opportunity to share with her constituents what’s keeping her busy. “Bilang LMP National President, tayo ang siyang nangunguna upang mabigyan ng pansin ng ating presidente, President Rodrigo Duterte, ng Senado, at maging ng Kamara, ang mga hinaing ng mga alkalde ng iba’t ibang munisipyo ng ating bansa. (As LMP’s National President, I take the lead in raising the concerns of the mayors of the different municipalities,
making sure that these are known to our president, the Senate, and the Congress).”

She also shared with the Socorreños some of their past activities in LMP. These include holding general assemblies and cluster conferences, where issues like federalism, agriculture, climate change, Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), and peace and order were tackled; providing assistance to the bakwits of Marawi; facilitating a dialogue with the policemen and mayors of Cagayan de Oro to discuss the safety and security of other mayors; and forging partnerships with the Chinese General Hospital and Philippine College of Surgeons in order to provide medical services for the different municipalities.

In a meeting with President Duterte, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo M. Año and Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, brought up two pressing issues: security and safety of the mayors, and federalism. “LMP believes genuine autonomy can only be had if the country adopts a federal system of government,” Catarata points out.

Mayor Bubut may come across as unassuming but she is no stranger to the field of politics. For one, she comes from a family of politicians—the current governor and congressman, Alfonso Umali Jr. and Reynaldo V. Umali of Mindoro Oriental, are her first cousins. “Siguro nasa dugo na namin ang pulitika. Ang pangarap ko lang sana ay magmuse sa barangay e, pero pinalad na maging mayor (Politics runs in our blood. I only wanted to become a barangay muse, but I got lucky and was voted to become mayor),” she jokes, her proud Batangueño accent evident.

At 28, she became mayor of Socorro, the first government seat she has decided to take on. “My brother
was then barangay captain. So it was easy for me to say yes [to run as mayor]. I didn’t realize I could
win,” she quips. She has served three consecutive terms as mayor of Socorro (1998-2007), and was again re-elected in 2016, proving that she is well loved by the people.

Larcy Villar, who has been her private secretary and close aide for many years now, attests to her
endearing qualities. “Napakabait niya at down-to-earth. Hindi sya humihindi sa lahat ng nahingi ng tulong sa kanya. Kung wala siya sa kanyang opisina at ako ang naiiwan, ang bilin niya sa akin: ’Wag mong pauuwiin ang mga tao’ng luhaan, kahit paano bibigyan mo’ (She’s kind-hearted and down to earth. She doesn’t turn down those who ask for her help. If she’s not in her office, she would tell me to still give and to not let them go home brokenhearted.)”

Mayor Bubut, who was born and raised in Mindoro, is a woman of the people. We have witnessed it ourselves when we visited Socorro during the town’s Pakapya Agtike Festival—she was personally entertaining the guests and talking to the townsfolk. “Malapit siya sa mga tao. Maski mga Mangyan
hinahalikan niya. Lahat kinakausap. (She is close to the Socorreños. She would kiss even the Mangyans. She talks to everyone),” says Villar, who is also her first cousin.

But then again, beneath her gentle and charming personality is a driven and strong leader, says Villar. She’s the type who would never let the day go by without resolving a problem. Vice Mayor Roy de Claro affirms, “She’s not strict, she’s understanding and considerate like a mother. But when she needs to be strict, she can make people follow her orders.”

On her fourth term as mayor, Mayor Bubut wants to continue her projects and make way for a beautifully progressive and touristfriendly municipality. “I want to provide the people of Socorro with all that they need—clean water, farm-to-market roads to get their produce to the markets faster, and sources of
livelihood,” she says.

She is looking forward to building a boardwalk in Naujan Lake, to help boost tourism and provide jobs for the people of Socorro.

In support of the farmers, the local government provides seeds and fertilizer. “Like Davao, we have durian, rambutan, lanzones. We’ve got the best bananas here!” she says with pride.

Vice Mayor de Claro says they are now focusing on infrastructure development and beautification. “We’d like to develop our own Singapore here in Oriental Mindoro. We’re planning to put solar lamps and ornamental plants along the national highway,” he shares.

The municipality is currently building four regional evacuation centers, and will soon erect a two-story building that will become Socorro Community College. “Our goal is for the school to operate by SY 2019-2020,” she says.

In the health department, we were told that Socorro now has two doctors to the barrio.

The local government has also increased its allotment for free medicines. “We have a birthing clinic and an ambulance,” adds the vice mayor.

The indigenous people are not left behind, as Mayor Bubut has provided them with trainings on
food processing and the like. She likewise helps by promoting their products (tribal weaves) outside

The 2017 Seal of Good Governance Award bestowed by the DILG on Socorro symbolizes the municipality’s journey towards good local governance. Thus, it is Mayor Bubut’s earnest goal to uphold the standards of transparency, integrity, and service delivery.

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