GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 29 June) – “A highly competitive cosmopolitan city.”
This was how incoming Mayor Ronnel Rivera described his vision for the area as he officially took his oath of office on Saturday as the city’s 12th mayor since its founding in 1948.
Rivera, who convincingly won over outgoing Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio in the May 13 elections under the platform of “change,” said he will pursue initiatives that will bring more progress to the city and at the same time provide equitable opportunities to local residents.
He said among his priorities is the realignment of the city government’s investments towards the delivery of more basic services, especially on health and education, to residents within the city’s 26 barangays.
The incoming local government administration will implement programs that would further enhance the city’s business sector and sustain its tag as the country’s tuna capital, he said.
He specifically vowed to push for the expansion and further development of the city’s seaport, airport and the fishport complex.
To resolve the city’s power supply problem, Rivera said his administration will push for the development of sustainable power projects, focusing on available renewable energy resources in the area.
“We will innovate and create new ideas…embrace modernity and progress and at the same time preserving our socio-cultural foundations,” he said.
He vowed to pursue democratic and consensual governance as well as uncompromising and genuine public service.
Rivera, who ran under Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel Pacquiao’s political party People’s Champ Movement (PCM) and Vice President Jejomar Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), said he will push for the forging of formal partnership with Sarangani Province on fisheries, tourism and public safety initiatives.
“We will join together to bring more progress to both areas,” he announced during his inaugural speech.
Rivera, reelected Vice Mayor Shirlyn Nograles and the 12 elected city council members took their oath before Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch 1 Judge Marie Ellengrid S.L. Baliguat, who stood in for the vice president.
Vice President Binay was supposed to administer the oaths of office of the city’s newly-elected officials but his visit was scrapped late Friday night due to his abruptly scheduled travel to China on Sunday.
The oath taking ceremony, which was originally set in front of the city hall building, was transferred to the city oval plaza’s covered court due to bad weather.
Among those who witnessed the event were outgoing mayor Custodio, Rep. Pacquiao, outgoing Sarangani Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez, incoming Sarangani Gov. Steve Chiongbian-Solon and Vice Gov. Jinkee Pacquiao.
Custodio personally turned over the city’s symbolic key and presented Rivera a token – a framed photo of the new mayor with the city’s seal.
In her turnover speech, the outgoing mayor said she will continue to serve the city’s residents through various initiatives.
“I will still continue to work in building our dream for the city in my capacity as a private citizen,” she said.
“The future of the city is beyond politics. The welfare of the people is beyond political ideology,” Custodio stressed.
She said the “exchange of animosity” triggered by last month’s polls, the election period and politicking are now over.
“Let the exchange of ideas begin. Let the exchange of gallantry prevail from now on,” Custodio added.