ALL their lives, Michael Dino and Kenneth Cobonpue have known each other. As they take on a new role as public leaders, each believes they can complement the other and help bring about an improved state of Cebu’s infrastructure in three to five years.
Both 48 years old, the two businessmen said that choosing to be part of the government, after more than four decades as private citizens, was no easy task.
“It was difficult. I was a private person. You may have heard about my name, but hadn’t really seen me,” said Dino, who now serves as President Rodrigo Duterte’s assistant for the Visayas. Prior to his government post, Dino said, he did not have any social media account.
He said his decision to join the government was provoked by the President himself, who asked him to take the position. Dino said he could not say no, being one of Duterte’s earliest supporters when the then-Davao City mayor began campaigning for the presidency.
Since he assumed office last year, Dino said, he has already divested from business (he owns a pizza and restaurant business in Cebu), adding he is devoting “100 percent” of his time to government work.
Likewise, Cobonpue, an internationally-renowned furniture designer for 15 years, has confessed that he had some apprehensions before he accepted the position as co-chair of the Regional Development Council (RDC) 7.
Politics has such a different dynamics from business, Cobonpue said, but what he can offer his creativity and exposure to international design.
“Having lived abroad, I can see the potential. I know what it takes to be a world-class city,” Cobonpue said. His acceptance, he said, was also his way of giving back to Cebu.
As RDC co-chair, he said, he wants to see an integrated master plan for Cebu. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will commission a study for the integrated master plan starting this July, and is slated to finish within 18 months.
“If we have a total master plan, whoever becomes the mayor, the mayor has to follow it,” said Dino.
“We want to make sure we have the right projects,” added Cobonpue. Although Cobonpue’s official designation is co-chair, his functions will be that of chairperson, since no one has been appointed to that position, said Dino.
“He doesn’t need it but we need him. We need a Kenneth Cobonpue, a world-class personality, an apolitical (individual),” he added.