LONG before President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address, the multi-awarded City Mayor Oscar Rodriguez has discovered the wisdom of public-private partnership. He has steered this classic concept into his work agenda to make the City of San Fernando a “habitat of human excellence.”

As partner organizations of the City Government, for instance, the Fil-Chinese Business Club and the Fil-Chinese Chamber of Commerce are the consistent big league supporters of the mayor. They had been collaborating to make a success of Oca’s highly acclaimed educational program for the poor.

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FCCC president George Ong and FCBC head Lino Uy have been giving invaluable material support by way of donating school books and supplies to the mayor’s pilot school for illegal settlers -- the Northville–San Fernando Integrated School. The two also installed eight artesian wells for the use of the community.

This is public-private partnership in action on a modest scale. On a larger front, it is the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry led by Levy Laus and Rene Romero that serves as the strongest pillar to city governance.

Oca, the President’s handpicked choice to head the League of Cities of the Philippines, may well proudly demonstrate to Mr. Aquino that San Fernando can be the model community built by public-private partnership (PPP).

In his sustained campaign to mitigate and control perennial flooding of his city, Rodriguez has effectively partnered with the Pamcham that has now focused its energy along with DPWH R-3 engineers in a massive anti-flood problem.

An obstacle to the mayor’s aspiration to have a flood-free city is contractor RD Policarpio which undertaking has fallen short of target in time for the rainy season.

With that major flood abatement project stalled, Rodriguez, as an alternative move, organized a Task Force to demolish illegal structures impeding waterways.

Continuous desilting of the open canals and drainage systems has been intensified. Flood “czar” Marnie Castro, despite losing his bid to the City Council, is leading the work on the ground.

As the rains began to fall, local residents raised apprehension that the poblacion area will experience another calamitous inundation as it regularly underwent every year.

Another flood prone area is the Abad Santos (GSO) Highway stretch of the business district and new commercial center. The mayor wanted this portion specially to be kept flood-free “being the virtual show window of the city to local travelers and foreign visitors passing on the way to Subic,” City Administrator Fer Caylao stressed.

Governor Lilia Pineda, on the other hand, wants the Abad Santos highway to be not only free of flooding but traffic jam-free as well. “She is a major figure in the public-private partnership synergy to create a peaceful and beautiful, and prosperous province,” according to her Chief of Staff Rosve Henson.

It appears that Sagip Ilog, a prime project of Mayor Oca, cannot protect San Fernando this year in the event of recurrent floods. This is due to the dismal performance of the 5.6 kilometer river rehab contractor with his failure to complete the project on target date.

Despite the persistent clamor and indignation of city officialdom for the Policarpio firm to fast track its work, it has yet to improve its reported 54 percent work slippage which worries the hardworking mayor.

Knowledgeable insiders in the construction industry doubted whether the DPWH executives can even warn or censure the contractor, much less issue legal sanctions against him for his record of work slippage at Sagip Ilog and failures in other contracts.

As it is, RD Policarpio’s nonfeasance or whatever pernicious deficiency it displayed in Sagip Ilog, has put lives and properties of San Fernando residents at “high risk,” according to a second term city councilor. “Malakas mag-extend ng goodwill ito -- ‘yan ang dahilan kaya walang kaba ang contractor sa DPWH offcials.”

Incidentally, before President Aquino decided to pick Mayor Oca for the presidency of the League of Cities of the Philippines, Rodriquez underwent an “intelligence” assessment as a leader. The finding, it was learned, summarized his virtues: “Rodriguez’s type of leadership is one (that is) imbued with a vision guided by a political strategy and his courageous principle (is) fueled by the uncommon ability to get things done.”

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Kapampangan business and civic leaders in Pampanga and Tarlac have joined Mabalacat Mayor Marino Morales in his timely call to President Aquino to hasten the full development of the DM International Airport at Clark to make it the alternate premier gateway to the country.

Morales, co-chair of the influential Metro Clark advisory Council (MCAC) and extensive traveler in Asian capitals, cited the imperative need of a second international airport, DMIA, to serve the country’s mounting air traffic in the next decade.

He wisely observed that while some Asian countries have resorted to land reclamation to build their expanding airport systems, the Philippines has already the Clark aviation complex to serve as the next most important airport after the NAIA with its limited facilities and short runways.

With the possible entry of the Malaysian group and its vaunted $1.5 Billion in venture capital for DMIA’s Terminal 2 project, Mayor Boking’s vision of a fully operational international airport at Clark may be realized in two years or less. And his peoples’ dream of a City of Mabalacat, which is certainly to come by 2011, rising to a reality.

By next year, Pampanga’s Gabby Concepcion look-alike may be addressed as City Mayor Marino “Boking” Morales.