COVID-19’s Impact to Mayor Pogi Lazatin’s Re-election Bid

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In nearly six months (March 25 – May 7) campaign period for local elections in May 2022 will officially start. And rightly so, the most prominent issue for mayors is how they handled the virus in their respective areas. After months of anticipation, the 2022 Angeles City mayoral race is truly underway, and incumbent City Mayor Carmelo “Pogi” Lazatin Jr. is seeking re-election.

He wants to continue the work he has started as mayor. He wanted to keep moving forward, for he has made remarkable progress in very challenging times.

In his first-term campaign, in 2019, he ran on a simple, back-to-basic platform, yet steady to stir socio-economic development, tourism investments, and opportunity in Angeles City—with a population of 411,634—so as to ensure efficient and effective delivery of basic services like quality education, job generation, shelter and healthcare to all. Yes he did and did it very well amid the devastating effects spawned by the coronavirus.

What good leadership looks like during this pandemic? He was very visible in the public eye as crisis manager of this unprecedented global pandemic regardless of his vulnerability against the deadly virus. Thankfully, he persisted in such ordeals of isolation and treatment, not just once but twice.

He brought the city government closer to the people, restored public confidence, and provided hope to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. His administration’s momentum has made headway but admittedly the achievements for less than three years were limited given the pandemic.

This pandemic has defined Mayor Lazatin’s leadership. He’s managing a crisis situation that brings out the best in him! He has reiterated the significant function of leadership in crisis management. In all crises, whether man-made or natural calamities, leadership is key. Crisis is like managing the unknown and it is imperative that we have to effectively convey the government’s policy direction at once.

While the nation continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lazatin administration has intensified its response and sustain the fight against the dreaded disease by literally setting foot to the barangay level dubbed as “Ronda and Sundo Bakuna”, the only innovative program among LGUs all over the Philippines that is admirable, unique, and worthy of emulation. The mayor and barangay officials are better off when they are the ones on the ground. The response is localized all the way to the barangay level. On this level, the people feel the presence of the government.

It is essential to integrate Lazatin’s programs and efforts in the National Action Plan (NAP)— the blueprint of the government’s efforts to prevent the spread of the COVID-19, and mitigate its impact on the country’s economy. He also reiterated that the city government is creating an equilibrium between protecting the public’s health and breathing life into the city’s economy while sustaining the gains from earlier phases.

“Public consultation is not enough, but it’s also a matter of mind-setting because everything will never be the same again so we have to adapt with such changes in our way of life by inviting a more inclusive and participatory governance or a more people-centric approach,” Lazatin said.

POLITICAL CHALLENGE

It’s still unclear how many people will run against Mayor Lazatin. It’s too early to know for sure who will run for what elective position. It could be one of the members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, a former mayor or anyone who is eligible to run. Yes, the filing of certificate of candidacy (COC) is from October 1-8, 2021, however, the deadline for withdrawal and substitution is still November 15, 2021. So nothing is really final until November 15.

While the game of politics is full of uncertainties, without any iota of doubt Mayor Lazatin remains the rallying point for the Angelenos, they will re-elect him overwhelmingly. Only last-termer City Councilor Amos Rivera – Mayor Lazatin’s most vocal critic on the council – has publicly expressed interest in the seat and has already made an official announcement. That’s led many to speculate the mayoral election may end up being a two-way race, with other prospective candidates deterred by Mayor Lazatin’s over-all sterling performance, strategic alliances, massive campaign chest and fundraising capabilities.

On the other hand, I completely understand Councilor Amos’ attempt to buoy up and stay in the limelight. It’s a predictable political behavior. In fact, his platforms of government are predictable too or would I say photocopies of the PPAs (projects, programs and activities) of incumbent Mayor Lazatin. It’s a calculated risk that requires skill to actualize challenging but realistic aspirations. But of course that will depend on the challenger’s character, track record, and how to sustain it until the last round is another burden to consider. In other words, it’s an old method to deter political oblivion. Plain and simple.

Meanwhile, Mayor Lazatin’s City Administrator Atty. Willie Rivera happens to be the big brother of Councilor Amos. Needless to say he will endorse Mayor Lazatin’s
re-election bid. Yes it looks awkward but it is what it is, politics is personal and complicated. Even science explains why politics got so awful. Nevertheless, Atty. Rivera is a well-seasoned politician and a gentleman, he can manage and knows very well the rules of engagement in a political battle such as this.

If voters re elect Mayor Lazatin on May 9, 2022, his focus will remain on helping Angelenos recover from the devastation of COVID-19, economically, and in terms of public health and education.

That, ultimately, is one of the key jobs of the mayor, is to be a strong manager, and someone who builds a team that can deliver effective services to everybody in the community regardless of political color, gender, class and religion. Job well done Mayor Carmelo Pogi Lazatin Jr. you did a great job and passed your first term with flying colors!