DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 07 May) – Maria Victoria “Mags” Maglana embarked on a mobile ‘miting de avance’ in the last two days of the campaign – May 6 and 7 — stopping in various areas in the first congressional district where she addressed the public to vote on May 9 not only for the candidate who can best represent them in Congress but to choose who will advance: the people’s welfare or the interests of a few.
In her first try in the electoral arena, Maglana, a much sought-after facilitator and consultant on governance, peace and development, is the lone woman challenging reelectionist Representative Paolo Duterte, firstborn of President Rodrigo Duterte. The two other candidates are businessman Jamal Kanan and Jovanie Mantawel.
On Friday night, May 6, a small truck carrying a small band of drumbeaters and a portable sound system stopped in a commercial area along the highway in Barangay Puan and for 11 minutes, Maglana delivered her campaign speech amid a drizzle.
At around the same time, thousands of supporters gathered in what is now being referred to as “San Pedro Square” near City Hall, for the ‘miting de avance’ of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago, the regional political party of Sara Duterte, and Hugpong ng Tawong Lungsod, the local party founded by the Duterte patriarch, President Rodrigo Duterte.
Rep. Duterte was a no-show in the ‘miting de avance’ graced by his father and sister Sara, who spoke and left before the President arrived. Duterte’s youngest son, Sebastian, the incumbent Vice Mayor, is running for Mayor while Sara, the outgoing mayor, is running for Vice President.
Kinsa man ang muabanse?
In Barangay Puan, Maglana said in a ‘miting de avance’ this question must be asked: “kinsa man ang muabanse?” (who will advance?) or whose interests should advance — personal or the people’s welfare?
She said vendor Nanay across the street can move forward only if there are laws that would give her additional capital for her business, especially since Nanay and those in similar circumstances are mired in debt.
Tatay who is driving a motorcycle can advance only if Congress passes laws that would suspend the collection of excise tax and value added tax to arrest the rise in oil prices so he can earn from his daily toil.
She said worker Kuya who is riding a tricycle can advance only if there are laws that would help the economy recover and increase his daily wages because 396 pesos minimum wage here is not enough to feed his family.
“So sa mga naga miting de avance karong adlawa, dapat klaro kanato nga ang dapat muabanse ang katawhan” (So in the miting de avance today, it should be clear that what must be advanced is the people’s welfare).
House-to-house, person-to-person campaign
The first congressional district covers 54 out of the city’s 182 barangays and has a voting population of 355,052 out of the city’s 992,538.
Maglana said her house-to-house, person-to person campaign in the 54 barangays, showed her the many faces and facets of the first district.
She cited the district’s ecosystem across a wide expanse of urban, urbanizing and rural areas, a coastal area, as well as green spaces although these are getting smaller. But the real natural resource or strength of the district, she reiterated, is its people.
She shared how residents welcomed her visits to the villages during the campaign, how they conversed with her, and expressed their openness to the possibility of voting another person to represent them in Congress.
The campaign also showed her, up close, the many challenges that residents in the first district are facing.
She focused on three major but inter-related issues: flooding, housing backlog and the waste to energy project.
On the flash floods, Maglana said more areas in the first district now experience floods, leaving many residents sleepless whenever it rains.
She said flooding has been a problem for decades, solutions had been proposed and infrastructure projects intended to solve the problem had been constructed but the problem has remained.
Work with nature
At the Archdiocesan Political Education Committee’s forum for candidates of the congressional districts on April 26, Maglana said part of the problem on finding solutions to the flooding problem is “gi-treat nato atong water systems as if pwede lang nato siyang labayan ug basura, pwede nato siya tambakan kung kanus-a nato gusto, ug labayan ug chemical. Kaya tayo nagkakaproblema” (we have been treating our water systems as if we can just throw garbage, dump anything there, throw chemicals. That’s why we have a problem).
She said her proposed solution is different: “Let’s not try controlling the waters, let’s try to live with the waters of Davao because nature always finds a way.”
She noted the dikes built in Bankerohan that always get destroyed because “humahanap ng sariling daloy ang tubig, humahanap ng sariling daloy ang kalikasan.”
“You don’t subdue nature, you work with nature. That’s the sustainable way,” she stressed.
In Puan, Maglana said the city is facing a “serious” housing backlog as more people flock to the city to find work, but since they cannot afford to buy land or to rent houses, many end up in informal settlement communities.
She also cited the waste to energy (WTE) project in the city. The Davao City government hopes to build a WTE incineration facility on a 10-hectare land n Biao Escuela village in Tugbok district to process 600 tons of plastic waste daily.
The Sustainable Development Movement here has repeatedly called on the city government to address the waste crisis through zero-waste systems such as single-use plastic ban, reuse and refill systems, waste reduction and segregation at source, productive biodegradable waste management, and community support for proper implementation of ecological solid waste management.
Speaking in Cebuano, Maglana said burning waste could poison the waters, pollute the air, and poison the land, and will worsen the climate crisis.
After citing three of many challenges the district is facing, Maglana asked: “have our candidates presented their platform on addressing these problems or rely only on their family names?”
Maglana asked the public to weigh the issues. In Cebuano, she asked: “Do we want a Davao that will move in the same direction or in the same set of ways? If there is no difference in the thinking, the ways of solving, if it is status quo, it is likely that change will be merely cosmetic and the problem will still be the same problem we will be facing in the coming years.that
She said a comprehensive and sustainable solution can be crafted when one understands the problem at its roots. This can be done only if those who craft the laws, understand the people’s sufferings.
Vote for our future
She called on voters to choose on Monday how best to advance or move forward. “Atong pagapilion dili lamang ang mga kandidato. Atong pagadesisyonan kung unsa ang mahitabo sa syudad sa Davao, sa atong nasud, ug kanato mismo, sa mosunod nga tulo ka tuig ug posibleng muhulma sab kini sa kaugmaon sa mosunod nga mga henerasyon” (We will vote not only for our candidates. We will decide what will happen to the city of Davao, to our country, and to us in the next three years and this will possibly shape the future of the next generations).
“So ang pangutana karong Lunes, pilion ba nato nga moabanse ang Davao o mopadayon lamang kini sa susamang direksyon?” (So the question on Monday Is, do we vote for Davao City to advance, or move towards the same direction as in previous years?)
She also urged voters to decide if they would allow forces or camps to dictate, force, or pay people to support their candidates or “dili ba kaha mopili ta nga atong gamiton ang atong katungod tungod kay gawasnon kita, pagpili sa mga lider nga maoy mo alagad ug mamuno kanato sa mo sunod na mga tuig” (shouldn’t we vote to exercise our rights, our freedom to choose the leaders who will serve and lead us in the years ahead?)
She asked the voters to decide if they were going to use their right to vote to choose candidates who present an agenda based on their principles and competence or be swayed by the same family name and what they have been used to in the past.
“Ug atong pagadesisyonan kung mosugot ba kita nga ang interes sa pipila lamang ang mangibabaw o ang moabanse lamang ang pipila o gusto ba nato nga mobarog kita para ang katawhan na pod sa distrito uno, kita na pod, atong kaayuhan, atong kaugmaon na sab ang atong panigurohon” (And we should decide if we will allow that the interests of a few will prevail, or that only a few can advance, or do we stand up so that the people of District 1 can assert our power, our welfare, and secure our future?).
“Pasabot, kita ang moabanse” (Meaning, we should advance).
She called on the voters to remember that “nasa ato ang gahum” (we have the power) and to use that power for the common good.
“Atong pilion, atong botaran ang usa ka representante nga moanhi dinhi sa inyo ug dili hadlok maulanan” (Let us vote for a representative who will come here to be with you even if it rains), Maglana said, adding the representative should work with you and not depend on others “kay para kini sa Davao sa atong mga damgo ug ang Davao nga dapat lang matagamtaman nato” (because this is for the Davao of our dreams and the Davao that we deserve).
Youth volunteers from different colleges in the city accompany Maglana in her sorties and her mobile ‘miting de avance.’ (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)