Editorial: In defense of Sir Jun-A A +A
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
THE most maligned in the midst of the humanitarian situation in Bohol is Maribojoc Mayor Leoncio B. Evasco, Jr. all because of a claim by the Philippine Red Cross that he wanted to get their relief goods and insinuated that he wanted to gain political mileage from it.
Maligned and insulted in social networking sites, Mayor Jun stood his ground, and rightfully so. The uninformed fed by the more uninformed are claiming this is about “epal”. It’s not. There is something wrong from the very claim of the Red Cross itself.
We Dabawenyos have seen how local authorities were tapped to attend to the typhoon Pablo victims. We of Region 11 have known how lack of coordination with locals has deprived remote communities from getting much-needed help. It took the massive effort of civil society to bring to the national agencies’ attention that starving victims in hinterland villages, almost a month after typhoon Pablo. This time, the Red Cross in Bohol wants to do it all by themselves in Maribojoc, one of the hardest hit towns in rural Bohol.
But of course, many will say Red Cross is adept at giving out humanitarian aid, and that is their job. How they can accomplish their job without knowing the terrain and the situation, however, is one big question that those who are quick to malign should first examine. Crisis Management has always involved coordination between locals and relief service institutions, the Red Cross included. To ensure that everyone gets a piece of the relief goods trickling in past the broken bridges and roads, there has to be a system in place. That will require knowing the barangays, where the people are, how many they are, and who were already recipients of earlier relief assistance. Mayor Jun wanted this. But no, he is accused of derailing relief operations for his personal aggrandizement.
The people who know Mayor Jun for what he is are thus howling in outrage. Unfair.
To the clueless, the ignorant, and the presumptuous, Mayor Jun have served the people more than any politician had.
He started adult life in priesthood, saw the sufferings of the masses at the height of Martial Law and thus took up arms.
He was enticed to join public service as officer in charge of the Davao City Engineer’s Office the year after Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte’s first ever term as city mayor in 1989. He became the mayor’s chief of staff the following year until 1996. He then was made to head the City Economic Enterprise from 1996-1998 and served as chief of staff of Duterte in his first and only term as congressman in 1998-2001. Evasco returned as chief of staff of the City Mayor’s Office in 2001-2004, and copped his served to Davao again as OIC City Engineer from 2004-2007. He ensured smooth operations for the city and never hogging the limelight. He was just the white-haired taller than average man who was running the show; he was the white-haired man civil society groups worked with, he was the front-liner who came in to settle things in his soft-spoken style. He dodged acknowledgements and never demanded for one. He wore no political color, he was just the City Hall’s action man.
After almost two decades of service to Davao City, he decided to bring his expertise in local governance to his hometown in Bohol and thus run and won as municipal mayor of Maribojoc in 2007. This is his last term as town mayor.
For two terms, he served his town well and the once unknown Maribojoc was battling it out with the big guys in terms of tourism, environment protection, heritage protection, but most of all, Maribojoc is one of very few rural towns who have a website where you can check out statuses of government projects and their accomplishment reports. Transparency is a keystone to Mayor Jun’s style of governance.
As a result, in his two terms, he garnered for his rural town several awards among which was the Seal of Good Housekeeping given by President Benigno C. Aquino III in 2011. Maribojoc was the only town from Bohol that received such a seal, which is a recognition by the Interior and Local Government Department of excellent governance.
His effort to ensure that everyone gets a piece of whatever comes is now called an attempt to hoard relief goods. Others are insisting he should just welcome everyone, never mind if these people prefer to choose whom they give help to. While another one likened the action to a party where someone will be bringing gifts intended for specific people. All saying, Evasco is wrong and bad. How fast people can malign without even understanding the extent of the problem. If this is how we interpret decisive leadership, then no wonder we do not have any inkling about what crisis management and humanitarian leadership means.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 24, 2013.