Urdaneta City setting management model for all LGUs in Pangasinan, Region 1

URDANETA CITY, Sept. 14 (PNA) — Strong political will, no "ningas cogon" mentality, plus hands-on management are qualities of leadership that made Urdaneta City a model for all local government units in the country today.

These leadership qualities could now be shared by Mayor Amadeo Perez IV to his fellow LGU executives who may want to make their towns and cities follow the footsteps taken by Urdaneta on its way to the top.

Now the best earning city in Region 1 with a budget reaching more than P700 million this year, Urdaneta is the second youngest among the four cities in Pangasinan.

Income-wise, Urdaneta has already overtaken the elder cities of Dagupan and San Carlos and is now virtually miles away from Pangasinan’s youngest city, Alaminos.

Other city executives in Pangasinan and Region 1 now concede that they have a lot to catch up with Urdaneta City already after the latter led them in virtually all aspects of development, not only financially but also in urban development and environmental sanitation.

“Seguro, political will,” the son of Ambassador Amadeo Perez Jr., chief of the Manila Economic Cooperation Office (MECO) in Taiwan, said when asked about his secrets in managing Urdaneta City.

The younger Perez followed and improved on the management style of his father who was Mayor of Urdaneta City for three terms after being congressman of the fifth district of Pangasinan, also for three terms.

“We re-opened old sidewalks so people will have places to walk on. Otherwise, they would be walking on the road pavement which is prohibited by our laws,” he said.

Strong-willed, the younger Perez also implemented a long-standing anti-littering law in the city that slaps a fine of P500 for any one indiscriminately scattering his wastes, including cigarette butts and ashes, just for the initial offense.

In less than seven months, the fine collected by the city from the ordinance reached a staggering P700,000 and these came only from first offenders as violators saw to it that they no longer repeat the offense.

“Mga first offenders lang. Wala nang umuulit,” chuckled Perez, which means that the anti-littering ordinance already taught the Urdaneta people a lesson.

He said no one is exempted from the ordinance, even officials and strangers who may unconsciously scatter their wastes are fined.

No one dares to commit the violation as the city has eyes all around just to spot violators and impose the fine.

Sincere implementation of the ordinance led to the selection of Urdaneta as the cleanest, safest and greenest province in Region 1 this year by the Regional Development Council (RDC).

Urdaneta was also the first LGU in Pangasinan to build an engineered sanitary landfill in Sitio Calegu, Barangay Catablan in compliance with Republic Act No. 9003 or the Solid Waste Management and Ecological Act.

The engineered sanitary landfill, a legacy from the elder Mayor Perez, was continued by the younger Perez and it was he who presided over during its inauguration sometime in early part of this year with President Benigno Aquino III as guest.

“When we have programs and projects, we will continue it up to the very end. No ningas cogon,” said Perez, adding that the “Purok Tulungan” started and became successful during the reign of his father and was continued by him.

“After our cleanliness drive, we will put up tourist spots in the city where our visitors will go,” said Perez, adding that he in fact already started with the ongoing refurbishing of the Rizal Park beside the old city hall.

The city had just installed a statue of a carabao on a junction of the national highway which is now a landmark symbolizing Urdaneta’s big economic breakthrough in the past as center of cattle trading in northern Luzon.

That statue of carabao means a lot for Urdaneta because the cattle market pre-positioned the former town as an economic giant in the whole of Pangasinan and Northern Luzon.

With two high-rise market buildings where its upper floors are rented by a mall, Urdaneta City became more competitive with the widening of the MacArthur Highway some years back.

As a hands-on executive, Perez sees to it that he is there providing directions to department heads daily and is even ahead in some of them in visiting the market.

At night, he passes by at some vendors not only to say hello to them but to tell them what they should do to help keep their city clean.

“I simply tell them that more people will come to our city if we keep cleanliness in our workplaces,” he said. (PNA)