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Mayor Dan Neri Lim As Interviewed by Loy Palapos
« on: July 06, 2008, 07:53:50 AM »
By Loy Palapos
Bohol Sunday Post

      Appreciated for his political will in the elections of 2004, he traversed a road less taken by his predecessors whose magnified back-patting and exuberant hand-shakes betrayed an inner feeling. Making reforms both at City Hall and Tagbilaran City, his acceptance rating rose several notches higher, starting off by making an opposition-populated legislative body see his line of thinking. His projects, mostly envisioned to help the poor, became hot topics with positive results, both from the political and social point of view.

      Thus, a second term came in handy by 2007. Not only did he make a clean sweep in almost all of the polling places; his party gained more slots in the legislature … a clear endorsement of his kind of governance. The consensus was that, if he succeeded to persuade for three years the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP), when he had only one adherent, how much more when (eventually after representatives representing the Sangguniang Kabataan [SK] and Association of Barangay Captains [ABC] were picked), he already has the majority of the City’s Law-making body.

      A ripple emerged when a very close associate in three previous elections jumped overboard and morphed into a negative factor. Add the SP Presiding Officer who has been viewed by all as a contender for the top slot at City Hall in the 2010 elections. Plus, the Agora and Water-Treatment projects hitting some snags. And the Blue Card anomaly that (thanks, God!) he discovered and aborted. Add a few businessmen who used to have their way in the previous administrations, even to the extent of bending some established rules. Collectively, it could be a puff of wind that could escalate and intimidate. Did these raffle his feathers?

      No, not a bit. Just like necessary spices to make his governance more palatable, many observed. Problems that don’t need head-breaking to perceive the solutions. Still, on top of the situation, Mayor Dan Neri Lim (DNL) again proves he is at his best elements.

      This interview took shape in his office at City Hall during a 30-minute lull of activities, mostly involving many people who wanted to confer with him on some vital matters. The date: Saint John’s Day, June 24, 2008.

      LMP: Your concern about children was evident even during your first term. How did this come about? Did you have some experiences or perceptions that ushered in this concern?

      DNL: I always want to inspire people to hope no matter what the present circumstances.  And yet, we have to consider that we cannot do anything about   the past and can only do so much with the present.  However, there is a lot that we can do about the future.  The children are our future.  I believe that we have to give them hope today if we want them to face the future with confidence. What we do with our children today largely determines what they will be tomorrow. In a way, the future starts now.

      LMP: For two years, public school pupils and students have been benefited by your giving them uniforms, bags, books, notebooks, shoes, and other school necessities. This year, are they going to enjoy the same privilege? Or, are you adding more to the items previously enjoyed by them?

      DNL: Yes, this is a program that I intend to implement every year I am in office.  I want the children to enjoy the same privileges, even more. I have some additional items in mind but I still need to finalize the details. If it is possible, I will just distribute them without fanfare.

      LMP: Many pupils and students from outside Tagbilaran City have enrolled in City Public Schools because of these afore-mentioned privileges (free school needs). How does this affect the project?

      DNL: I don’t see any problem with that. We may not agree with their motives in enrolling here but as far as I am concerned, the more beneficiaries, the better. I always believe that Tagbilaran should bear in mind that it is the big brother to its sister towns.

      LMP: Last year, you started a reorganization and revamp of the Day Care Center program of the City. How has this been assessed by the recipients of the new program? How about the coordinators/teachers?

      DNL: The results have been very encouraging.  This may not be very evident at this time but I believe that in time the impact will be felt in the lives not only of the children who are enrolled in the Day Care Centers but even their families. There are a few loose ends that we will attend to but over-all it has surpassed expectations.

      LMP: What advantages and changes have taken place since the implementation of the program on “Multiple Intelligences?”

      DNL: As I have pointed out, the results may not be evident this time.  So, I leave people to their own assessments.  What is clear however is that our  children are more comfortable and secure about themselves, better able to express themselves and more eager to learn.  For me, these are enough reasons to expect more from them in the future.

      LMP: Can you give an update on the well-publicized anomaly perpetrated by some implementators of the Blue Card program?

      DNL: Except for those who want the program to fail for their selfish interests, the program is what the doctor ordered for indigents who need to avail of free hospitalization.  I just want to make it clear however that the Blue Card should not be used to encourage wrong thinking and mendicant mentality. This is the reason why I don’t want deliveries and ailments caused by alcohol and tobacco abuse included in the program. The government  should educate people about their responsibilities. If couples cannot even spend for their childbirth, how will they be able to give their children a better life?  In the same manner, people who refuse to be accountable for their vices should not expect the government to bankroll their indiscretions.

      LMP: In your administration, there have been some big steps undertaken to promote sports, especially boxing. Will this still be sustained in the incoming years? Why?

      DNL: Nothing is permanent in this world. What we take years to build up may be destroyed overnight. The point however is not to stop hoping that the next generations will pick up from where we left off and even take it to a higher level.  The tragedy is not to do anything for fear that those who come after us will put them to waste.

LMP: Can you give an update on the Water-Treatment project?

      DNL: We have modified the project in response to present developments. I do not want to go into the details anymore.  When it is done, we will present it to the people. The only assurance I can give is that it won’t be a band-aid solution.  We are looking at a long-term if not permanent solution. The system we will put in place is the result of a comprehensive learning process that took into consideration those that are successfully implemented in other places.

      LMP: How about the previous plan to buy-back the electric and water utilities by the Provincial Government? It seems the plan is in hiatus. What is the latest about this?

DNL: I cannot speak for the Provincial Government. There were public pronouncements about that but there is nothing concrete until the present.  I am  hoping that the Provincial Government will make its position clear so the City will  know what to do.  I assure our people however that we will not give up the fight  to give back control of the power and water utilities to them.

      LMP: A ripple was felt regarding the new DepEd Superintendent assigned in the Tagbilaran City Division, which even resulted to Regional Director Mordeno conferring with you. What was the cause of the friction, and how was it resolved?

DNL: The issue boils down to disrespect, lack of coordination and insensitivity to the  desire of the City Government to improve the quality of education.  Fortunately,  Regional Director Mordeno came to the rescue.  All’s well that ends well.  When  people commit to hold each other in respect, to coordinate and cooperate with  each other and to recognize that we do not hold a monopoly of good intention,  we can accomplish so much more.

LMP: The recent development at the vicinity of Plaza Rizal, particularly the building that has been reconstructed pursuant to established guidelines at the corner of  CPG Avenue and J.S. Torralba Street, has given the people a glimpse of how the  city would look if rules are followed. What do you believe is its effect on those  who are still not observant to the guidelines?

DNL: It is a sad fact that due to the sad experiences of the past, our people’s first  reaction to new ideas is suspicion and disbelief.  The solution to that is to prove  your case by performance.  The results will take a while to be appreciated but I  always believe that over time we will be vindicated.  The message I have always  given our people is this: we know what we are doing and that we mean  business.  I am not saying that they do not have the right to question.  What I’m  saying is that there are consequences to disobedience.

LMP: What can you say about people who don’t do anything to be productive, but  just wait for government dole-outs?

DNL: Dole-outs only make beneficiaries more dependent because it is like rewarding  them for refusing to be responsible for their own lives.  It is not a question of  government’s capacity to help but of the individual’s desire to stand up and  accountable for his own life.

LMP: Along this line, what is your reaction to President GMA’s sporadic subsidy to  the people recently? Can you see some long-lasting positive effects on this move,  especially in terms of productivity?

DNL: It is a case of too little too late.  It might cool down the panic at present but it  needs far more than that to meet the requirements of the future.  The  government should be able to consider at all times the fact that we have to plant  before we can reap.  Planting requires foresight, long-range planning and  commitment.  There are no overnight results.  It requires home work, diligence  and focus.

LMP: Those in the know are convinced that the wannabes in the Mayoralty race  (including the incumbent Vice Mayor) are lightweights who couldn’t hold a candle  to you. Do you feel the same way… that a third term is yours for the taking in  2010?

DNL: It is too early to talk about the next election.  What I say today is at best an  opinion that will not be validated until the final votes to answer a question that is  left to the individual discretion of every voter.  For the moment, my mindset is to  make good the commitments I gave to our people and to honor their trust with  the performance that they deserve. 

      This coming Tuesday (July 1, 2008), is the 42nd Charter Day of Tagbilaran City. The program, prepared by City Administration Walter Toston, has the same trimmings as in the previous years. The date also marks the start of the month-long Sandugo Festival, now on its 20th year.

      Will he make the usual State of the City Address? Whether he does it or not won’t make any difference. After all, what matters most are not words. Actions speak louder than words. Mayor Lim may have a few critics, but they are usually a disillusioned few who turn acidic for DNL won’t bend the law. Strong and persistent is his brand of leadership. Unbending to the whims and caprices of those who cannot detach themselves from personal interest.   


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