NEWS of a neophyte politician winning the gubernatorial post in Davao del Norte made it to the headlines after the midterm elections last May.
Edwin I. Jubahib, popularly known as Kuya Edwin, won over Rodolfo del Rosario, Jr. for the position of Davao del Norte governor with 275,984 votes, edging out the latter who got 166,870 votes.
Jubahib led the landslide victory of the PDP-Laban Party slate in Davao del Norte with a campaign that is fueled by a sincere pro-poor crusade and no-nonsense call for genuine change.
His erstwhile boss, former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez also defeated Governor Anthony del Rosario to retain his position as congressman of the 1st District.
Jubahib is set to serve the Dabaonons with a genuine desire to serve the less fortunate.
Revolutionizing public service
Knowing the great responsibility he holds, the new governor set his sights on revolutionizing the way the provincial government provides basic services to the Dabaonon people.
Jubahib revealed his radical plan of making the provincial government closer to the ordinary citizens, by extending the services of the Provincial Governor’s Office, along with other frontline offices of the Capitol, to the public beyond official office hours.
“Ako po ay mag opisina mula alas otso nang umaga hanggang alas dose nang hating gabi. (I will be reporting to office from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 m.n.),” he said during the Philippine’s 121st Independence Day celebration of the City of Tagum.
He said he will personally attend to the issues and concerns of the people, who can see him even without setting prior appointment.
To boost services, Jubahib also bared to set up a one-stop shop for the services of the offices of the two Congressional Districts in the province at the Provincial Capitol.
At the same time, he is set to rename the Tahanan ng Gobernador, which was known to be the official residence of the provincial governor since year 2000. It shall be known as the “Davao del Norte People’s Palace”, which will be available in hosting exclusive events of local chief executives, local government officials, barangay officials and other agencies, such as the Department of Interior and Local Government.
He said he would set up a “bayanihan” system among the local government units (LGU) of Davao del Norte, in order to efficiently resolving local concerns and problems, as well as synchronize the delivery of essential public services.
“Ibig sabihin ‘pag ang isang LGU may problema, lahat ng LGUs pupunta doon, kasama ang provincial government upang tumulong. (That would mean whenever one LGU would have a problem, all the LGUs, together with the provincial government, would go there to help),” he said.
He disclosed he already had a meeting with the newly-elected local chief executives regarding the matter.
The new governor also confirmed the implementation of zero billing for the patients in all the public hospitals within the province.
“Sabi ko sa inyo ngayong July 1, sa ating pamamahala, sa ating probinsya sa Davao del Norte ang tatlong district hospitals: Kapalong, Carmen, Igacos (Island Garden City of Samal) at ang Davao Regional Hospital, SPMC (Southern Philippines Medical Center) ay libre na po para sa lahat (I am telling you that on July 1, in my administration of the province of Davao del Norte, the three district hospitals: Kapalong, Carmen, Igacos, and the Davao Regional Hospital, SPMC shall be free for all),” he announced.
Among other reforms, Jubahib further mentioned the creation of the Task Force Davao del Norte to harden peace and security in the province; making the province more attractive to investors; broadening of agricultural services and opportunities; enhancement of the provincial scholarship program; free use of the facilities of the Davao del Norte Sports and Tourism Complex; and, expansion of potable water system projects and launch of water treatment facilities.
He now shows his firmness in realizing his platform of government, which is summarized by an acronym that bears his moniker. It is spelled as Knowledgeable, Understanding, Yes to Progress and Action-Oriented towards Establishment of Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization and Farming; Delivery of Equitable Social Services, Education and People’s Participation Programs for Good Governance; Wholehearted approach to Tourism Development, Job Creation, Economic Stability and Investments; Infrastructure and Industrialization for All; and, Normalization and Strengthening of People’s Rights and Social Justice.
Early on, the new governor would like to prove that success is not defined by being able to win in the elections. Jubahib remains humble and approachable, never forgetting who he was and from where he came from. With determination, he is keen on making good his promise of delivering no-nonsense, honest-to-goodness public service without pretension and reservation in improving the lot of his people.
“Ang Kapitolyo dili ni para lang sa usa ka gobernador. Kundili, ang Kapitolyo para paghatod ug serbisyo sa tanang tao diri sa probinsya sa Davao del Norte (The Capitol is not only for the governor. It is intended to provide basic services to all the people of Davao del Norte),” he said.
Being born into an impoverished farmer household and growing up poor didn’t stop Jubahib from reaching the pinnacle of success.
He hurdled every obstacle to make it to the top. He proved that, with determination and right opportunities, children born into poverty are able to transcend the adversities and steep obstacles to become successful later in life.
Hailing from Barangay New Visayas, Panabo City, Jubahib learned early in life the importance of hard work and the value of education in getting out of poverty.
He finished his elementary and secondary education in New Visayas Elementary School and Panabo Provincial High School, respectively.
He started helping his parents toil the land at a young age of eight. He breezed through selling vegetables and studying to complete his secondary education. He strived as a working student in order to make his way to college. He engaged in odd jobs while studying to help his parents meet both ends, finishing Bachelor of Science in Criminology at the University of Mindanao in Davao City.
His honesty and hard work paid off when he moved up the corporate ladder rising from a bus conductor to inspector and eventually to become an assistant operations manager in the Davao City branch of a known bus company.
He was given the opportunity to work and study in Japan in 2004, gaining apprenticeship in technical engineering. He then went back to the Philippines to start his own construction company.
Jubahib met Alvarez when he served as regional campaign manager of former Senator Manny Villar when he ran for president in 2010. When the senator lost, he took Jubahib to supervise his housing project in Tagum City.
Meanwhile, the friendship of Alvarez and Jubahib continued to blossom. Such that when the former secured the congressional seat in District 1, he took the latter to manage his local office and man the delivery of basic services to his constituents. With a deep sense of propriety, Kuya Edwin did not betray his position of trust by shying away from contracting projects within the legislative district of the congressman.
It was in his stint as personal assistant to Alvarez where Jubahib learned the art of genuine public service. Jubahib built a lasting impression as the “Kuya ng Masa”, involved in overseeing projects and delivering services 24 hours a day and seven days a week. He even stayed until the wee hours of the morning if needed, working on behalf of the former Speaker, who was engrossed with his duties at the House of Representatives.
“Gihimo ni (namo) tungod sa tinuod nga tabang para sa tanan nga naay panginahanglan... ang tanan nga mangayo og tabang kinahanglan gyud tabangan. Dili na dugay-dugayon (We offer genuine services to the needy constituents. Those who need help must be given immediate and preferential attention),” he said.
Heart for the poor
Jubahib knows how it is to struggle for assistance in times of emergencies.
“Na-experience nako kung unsa kalisod mangayo og tabang (I experienced how it is difficult to seek assistance),” he said.
Jubahib added, “Pinakamasakit talaga yung hirap talagang humingi ng tulong. Pag naay maglisud mangayog tabang, mo-reflect sa akoa na pareha sa akoa sauna. Hirap lumapit, naranasan ko, eh (As a poor boy, I experienced the pain of having difficulty in asking for help. If I see somebody seeking assistance, I remember the time when I was destitute. It happened to me).”
He recalled one particular occasion when he really had a hard time looking for help for the hospitalization of his dear father who suffered a stroke.
“Pumupunta ako kung saan-saan, kung saan makahingi ng tulong. Sobra talaga habang naglalakad ako, ang iniisip ko siya kung maaabutan ko pa ba sya na buhay para magamot (When we badly needed money for the hospitalization of my father who suffered a stroke, I went everywhere to look for help. The possibility of losing my father without receiving medical treatment is pure mental torture),” he said.
The upside of growing up poor, however, is that it taught him valuable lessons not only about money and survival. More importantly, it instilled to him the virtues of humility, empathy, and generosity, as well as giving back to the community.
So much so that he would have no second thought of giving assistance out of his own pocket, especially if the bureaucratic processes would hamper the immediate handing out of emergency aid.
“Dili nako kaya mabiyaan ang mga tao nga nangayo og tabang (I cannot afford to turn a blind eye to people who need help),” he said.
Jubahib offered his success as the victory of the people of Davao del Norte, especially the poor.
“Utang kabubut-on nako sa katawhan nga dili nako makalimtan (I will never forget my indebtedness to the people),” Jubahib said.
He added, “Akong saad akong tumanon para maangkon na sa katawhan ang dugay na nilang gipangandoy nga serbisyo sa Davao del Norte (I thank the people of Davao del Norte, their love for the province. I will fulfill the promise I made to the people during the election for better service in Davao del Norte that they have been dreaming).”
He may be wanting in public service knowledge and proficiency earned by a seasoned politician. Yet, he is determined to make up for his lack of experience by revolutionalizing public administration in serving the best interest of his people.
“Tinuod, wala gyud ko kaagi pagka-politiko. Ang akoa lang, interesado ko sa pagtabang (It’s true it’s my first time in politics. But, it is my intention to serve our people),” he settled. (PR)