Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso cleared up the busy streets of the country’s capital, moved to restore its cultural heritage and warned schools on class suspensions after just a few days of working as mayor.
Similar to other local officials, Moreno’s office as chief of Manila started on July 1. He defeated long-time mayor and former president Joseph Ejercito Estrada in the midterm election last May.
Moreno kept his constituents updated with these activities through his social accounts and regular press conferences every now and then.
The most recent of these was when he found the Andres Bonifacio monument at Lawton to be misused due to the unpleasant sight and smell of excrement around it.
“That is the office of the mayor, the seat of power of the City of Manila. Tapos eto, amoy tae rito. Nagkalat,” Moreno said on July 10.
He later ordered the dismissal of the Police Lt. Rowel Robles, the Police Community Precinct commander of Lawton, for it.
This was just among the several reforms and actions he made for the city as part of fulfilling his vows of addressing the pressing woes of Manila during the campaign period.
Moreno promised a 10-year infrastructure program for the city back then, which includes tourism, health care, traffic, and jobs.
A neophyte on the job, he earned praises from some national officials such as Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.
Clearing up Quiapo and Divisoria
Moreno’s first cleared the chaotic Claro M. Recto Avenue in Manila’s large Divisoria commercial district where the four-lane road was previously packed with street vendors.
He became busy in the next few days with more clearing up operations at Recto, Juan Luna and Quiapo—areas in Manila known as havens to sidewalk vendors.
Filipinos who went there after the operations posted photos online of how clean and passable they are.
Moreno, meanwhile, vowed to implement a more organized rental scheme for these vendors, but only for those who live in the city.
Promises to restore tourism in Manila
Last July 5, Moreno met with two agencies under the Department of Tourism to discuss plans on reviving the capital’s cultural heritage and boost local tourism.
Officials from the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority and the Intramuros Administration talked to Moreno about ways to rebuild and maintain the 47 parks in Manila and the historic small city of Intramuros.
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Moreno also expressed his stance against high-rise buildings that will obstruct the view of historical sites such as the one near Rizal Park.
Moreover, the actor-turned-politician also planned to reopen Manila Zoo after he addressed the sewerage issues previously identified by the Department of Environment Natural Resources.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat commended Moreno for these efforts.
“We at the DOT share the vision and enthusiasm of Mayor Moreno in providing our international visitors a great first impression of the Philippines as soon as they set foot in Manila,” Puyat said.
Making changes for students and schools
Moreno met with members of the Manila City School Board to inform them of his plans to install solar panels and rainwater collectors at the rooftops of the school buildings for energy conservation.
“Having said that, I am now encouraging the board to come up with environmental projects, programs to harness renewable energies,” he said.
The new mayor also warned private educational institutions such as the administration of the University of the East over observing his orders on class suspensions.
Concerns and criticism
Amid the positive feedback, concerns on how Moreno can sustain these policies in the long run for his constituents were also brought up.
Hi Mayor @IskoMoreno! We appreciate your quick action with regards to decluttering Manila (esp. Divisoria). However, we hope that the displaced vendors are provided with a better/organized space for their livelihood.
— T.Maroon (@ttmaroon) July 3, 2019
An urban planning expert noted that the discussion on street vendors is limited to what seems right at the moment without a long-term plan.
“Amid the euphoric mood and sustained media coverage, there has been limited discussion on the sentiments of the affected street vendors and the impacts of clearing operations on their insecure employment,” Dr. Redento Recio said in an interview.