Parating na ang Bagong Maynila,” announced recently elected Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno on his Facebook page last February 7.

(The new Manila draws near.)

Known for utilizing a modern approach in using social media platforms, Moreno continues to receive increased attention from different media circles. Together with a re-energized Manila Public Information Office, Moreno has found a way to appeal to Manileños in a way unlike his predecessors.

Moreno, who assumed office last June 30, maintains an active online presence on Facebook and Twitter, where he regularly publishes information and local announcements regarding class suspensions and updates on Manila’s urban renewal plans.

A new Manila

Marking his first 100 days on October 8, the Manila City Mayor and his projects have already become the subject of praise and controversy. Executive Order No. 17, which was enforced in July, limited the selling of alcohol near Manila schools, forcing businesses to restructure or close down. Moreno was also criticized for supposedly egotistic tendencies; MNL Konek, a free Wi-Fi kiosk located at the Andres Bonifacio Monument in Manila was initially known as IskoNek, before online backlash prompted the name change.

At the age of 44, Moreno is by far, the youngest Mayor to be elected as the city’s chief executive. Moreno has been compared by citizens to former city mayors, particularly his predecessor Joseph Estrada. Mariel Estrella (II, IE), a resident of Manila, expresses her admiration for the mayor, stating that Moreno’s plans have been “more promising” compared to that of Estrada’s.

Charisse Diehl (II, AB-ISE) airs similar sentiments, criticizing Moreno’s predecessor over past political scandals. “Isko does things to better Manila,” she adds.

Estrada, who previously served as the President of the Philippines before being impeached in 2001 for plunder, became controversial as Manila mayor for, among other things, his permissive urban development plan. Subsequent surges in construction eventually led to his plan to turn the Arroceros Forest Park into a gymnasium. Provoking negative reactions from Manila citizens, online petitions were held calling to save the park. After succeeding Estrada, Moreno declared last May 18 that this plan will not push through and blocked the construction project.

MORENO’S FIRST POLICIES have been met with approval and criticism

Cheuk Tam (III, BS-MGT) shares that Moreno’s plan to preserve the park is beneficial for the country’s capital, which suffers from a lack of green spaces. Tam expresses her approval for the paradigm shift, “I think it is nice that the current administration is thinking of doing something for the environment this time instead of the typical ‘build more buildings because this is a city’ kind of thing.”

Allen Surla, an Assistant Professor from the Political Science Department, also praises Moreno’s activeness in social media platforms, “If you’re a good government official [who wants] to reach out to more of your constituents, you need to optimize the use of media.”

Surla stresses the city’s need for “re-management”, including solutions to traffic and pollution levels within the city. The latter, Surla notes, is  “quite high and is one of the worst in the world.”

Although he concedes that Moreno’s three-year term as Mayor will “definitely not be enough,” Surla is convinced that Moreno’s aggressive approach for the city can greatly benefit not just its citizens, but even visitors as they witness improvements in the city’s livability.

In the eyes of the youth

“Hassle” was the word used by both Keena Lim (II, PSM-LGL) and Jason Espejo (II, BSMSME) to describe late class suspension announcements made by Moreno. Despite the mayor’s initial promise to announce class suspensions as early as evenings in the face of impending bad weather, his pronouncements have been far from it, leading to a barrage of student complaints.

“I drove to school and [the] roads were literally like swimming pools,” Lim narrates. She had just reached the University when she was informed of Moreno’s decision to announce class suspensions, much to her dismay.

Espejo, on the other hand, shares that the mayor’s inability to announce suspensions early brought him “more hassle instead of convenience,” remarking that announcements have lost the purpose of ensuring student safety.

Poor weather aside, his enforcement of Manila’s liquor ban also received significant public attention. Bars and stores were forced to discontinue the sale of liquor within 200 meters from Manila schools to limit students’ access to alcoholic beverages.

Diehl justifies the Mayor’s actions, saying, “[Moreno] isn’t canceling their right to own [a] business; he’s merely asking [them] to remodel [their business].” However, she admits that Moreno’s abrupt announcement may have been problematic as establishments were not given proper time to adjust.

‘Room for improvement’

A few months into his term, Diehl believes Moreno’s overall performance has been ‘good’. Corruption is among the things she hopes does not influence the Manila City Mayor. “[His performance] is really good, [but] not perfect; there is room for improvement,” she emphasizes.

Surla echoes Diehl’s sentiments, “At the very least, he is acting on things that are logically good for the city.” He cites that in the face of current problems in the city, such as its environment and employment rate, Moreno has had the ability to say the “right things” to the public. On Moreno’s drive in developing a better Manila, Surla hopes that those advocacies and projects do not end on his term. Rather, he hopes that future mayors continue to push for positive agendas, “Development is not just for two years—it’s not just during Isko’s [term]. It should be progressive and continually advocated by future mayors of the city.”

Sabine Cariño

By Sabine Cariño

John Robert Lee

By John Robert Lee

Enrico Sebastian Salazar

By Enrico Sebastian Salazar

Contributor of University and Vanguard since TLS 58. Internal Development Manager in TLS 59. Currently designing the new website.

Helen Saudi

By Helen Saudi

Leave a Reply