I WAS fortunate to witness last Thursday, June 30, 2022 a historical transition in Muntinlupa City. Before a crowd that filled up the Filinvest Tent in Alabang, Mayor Rufino Rozanno Biazon took his oath shortly after 4 p.m. as the fourth city mayor of this progressive city. A few minutes earlier, Congressman Jaime R. Fresnedi took his oath, also before Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Executive Judge Myra Quiambao, as congressman of the lone congressional district of Muntinlupa. Biazon later administered the oath of Vice Mayor Artemio Arevalo Simundac and the elected city councilors, led by Atty. Raul C. Corro. Corro who is acknowledged as the architect of the cityhood of Muntinlupa and is expected to be reelected as majority floor leader.

The other city councilors were (from District 1) Rachel Arciaga, Ivee Arciaga-Tadefa, Paty Katy Boncayao, Allan Aman Camilon, Alexson Diaz, Valentino Niefes , Jedi Presnedi and (from District 2) Lester Baes, Ryan Bagatsing, Luvi Constantino, Arlene Hilapo, Eliot Martinez, Dado Moldez, Marissa Rongavilla and Jun Metong Sevilla.

Attendees consisted of the elected officials, their families and guests, city government personnel, former city officials, representatives from the business sector, heads of national government offices based in Muntinlupa, judges and prosecutors, education officials and school principals, civic and religious groups, and various people’s organizations.

The scenario is unprecedented. The new officials are all members of One Muntinlupa – the first local political party in Muntinlupa officially recognized by the Comelec. One Muntinlupa – which Biazon described as a “local political party with clearly stated party principles and party platform of government” – swept the political opposition, 19-0, last May 9. One Muntinlupa ran on a platform of “equitable service for all, inclusive policies and programs, participatory governance, responsible, prudent and transparent fiscal management and accountability”. The success of One Muntinlupa, Biazon said, hopefully “will end politics of convenience and usher in a new politics based on a shared vision for the people of Muntinlupa.”

No doubt, One Muntinlupa’s victory is attributable largely to outgoing Mayor Fresnedi, who is leaving office with an enviable record of good governance, sound fiscal management and meaningful programs, especially in education and infrastructure. Biazon vowed not to squander the gains achieved during the Fresnedi administration.

Biazon served five terms in Congress during which time he authored 993 bills and 275 resolutions. 82 bills became laws. He also extended assistance to 2,400 scholars, 70,000 medical assistance beneficiaries, 10,500 emergency employment beneficiaries, 102 rolling business livelihood beneficiaries, and released 39,000 food packs at the height of the pandemic. He was instrumental in the construction of 40 school buildings (with a total of 572 classrooms) and the repair of kilometers of roads and drainage.

Biazon acknowledged that having served a long time in Congress, he will be venturing into a new field of local governance. From being a “tito”, who was available to assist whenever asked, he is now transitioning as a “tatay”, who has to run the household and provide for all its needs on a daily basis. He vowed to continue, and hopefully improve on, the programs of his predecessor. Biazon said he will pursue a 7-point K agenda which focuses on Kabuhayan, Kalusugan, Karunungan, Kaunlaran, Kapayapaan, Kalikasan at Katarungan – all based on the UN sustainable development goals.

The next three years will be a “pandemic recovery period,” Biazon said. Emphasis will be placed on Kalusugan, Karunungan and Kabuhayan.

Kalusugan involves the improvement of medical services, upgrade of health centers, converting at least two into “super health centers” with capability of dealing with health emergencies, and the upgrade of the Ospital ng Muntinlupa.

Karunungan involves the Covid-proofing of school facilities ensuring their safety for face-to-face classes, the enhancement of the scholarship program and the conduct of training and development programs for teachers.

Kabuhayan involves 1. enhancement of the current livelihood and training programs and grant of interest free livelihood loans. 2. launching of Support Muntinlupa industries and Local Entrepreneurs (Smile). 3. further improving the ease of doing business. 4. developing the Muntinlupa lake shore area as a tourist destination. 5. continuing to develop Muntinlupa as a Smart city through connectivity, using the latest available information and communication technology.

In order to hit the ground running, Biazon is retaining the services of all incumbent department heads, led by city administrator Engr. Allan Cachuela. Biazon expressed confidence that the same team which helped Fresnedi propel Muntinlupa to its position of leadership will be able to sustain the city’s growth momentum.