THE MAYOR IS ALWAYS IN
By empowering and investing in his people, the Koronadal mayor hopes the city will change for the better.
BY MARIDOL RANOABISMARK
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANIEL SORIANO
Listening to Koronadal City Mayor Eliordo Ogena’s story is like sitting on your grandmother’s lap, wide-eyed, while taking in anecdotes that restore your faith in mankind. The city chief admits that he’s not a moneyed politician like his opponent in the last elections, who comes from a well-entrenched local political clan. But he won the race, hands down.
“After the end of my last term as Vice Governor of South Cotabato in 2010, some people said I should have run as governor, but I coudn’t. I didn’t have the money,” he admits.
The governorship was the next logical step after Ogena ran unopposed for his last term. He had previously served as a board member for two terms (1995-2001).
As a local legislator, Ogena championed the welfare of South Cotabateños. His legislative legacy includes the banning of open pit mining as stipulated in the Environmental Code of the Province of South Cotabato, Kabugwason-Paglaum Scholarship Program for poor but deserving students, Purok Empowerment ordinance, and excellence award systems.
The above pieces of legislation reflect his aspirations to empower and institutionalize bayanihan or
the spirit of volunteerism among his constituents and his strong ideology for the protection of the environment for the next generation of South Cotabateños.
Since he didn’t have enough campaign funds to run for governor, Ogena tried—and succeeded—to
secure the vice-mayoral post of Koronadal. He went on to serve for three terms, from year 2010 to 2019.
It turns out the people were observing him all along. They saw Ogena roaming the streets of Koronadal, condoling with a family whose loved one passed away. They had him celebrating with them during special occasions like weddings. They didn’t hesitate to approach him when they needed something for their families. In short, he was always there for them.
Ogena says it’s because he swears by people empowerment. After all, it is the people who put him in a position to serve. It is also they who have the power to remove him from office.
“We have to liberate our people from the bondage of poverty.
"WE HAVE TO LIBERATE OUR PEOPLE FROM THE BONDAGE OF POVERTY. AND THE BEST WAY TO DO
IT IS THROUGH EDUCATION, CREATING JOB OPPORTUNITIES FOR THEM, PROVIDING BASIC SERVICES, AND USING MY POWER FOR GOOD.”
And the best way to do it is through education, creating job opportunities for them, providing basic services, and using my power for good,” says the new mayor.
FIRST 100 DAYS
The human rights lawyer says he can only use his power for good if he has the funds to bankroll projects. So one of the things he did during his first 100 days as mayor was to create a technical working group for special projects. Its job is to solicit funds from government officials and agencies.
Ogena explains that his budget of Php1 billion is “not much” to meet the people’s needs. He needs
five times as much. It’s because this mayor aims high.
First on his to-do list is to make the city clean and beautiful, to make his job of promoting his city to local
and foreign tourists a lot easier.
While waiting for necessary funds, the mayor has tapped the city employees to make the town plaza—
the city’s version of Manila’s Rizal Park—more attractive.