“This is the person you think is your antagonist, who ends up being your greatest ally: the person who pushes, criticizes, and challenges you to meet a standard of excellence you might not otherwise achieve.” –Bonnie Hammer
If some allies and confidants of Iloilo City Mayor Jose ‘Joe III’ Espinosa III in the Philippines find it hard to make him agree on certain matters that are clearly correct and lawful, they shouldn’t feel bad about it.
They shouldn’t be quick to pillory him; refrain from antagonizing him and get their fingers off the trigger.
Mayor Joe III is now his own man; no one can compel him to follow suggestions and pieces of unsolicited advice even from his contemporaries and advisers.
If he will adopt some of their sensible suggestions, it’s a bonus. If he doesn’t, no hard feelings.
The city mayor is the master of all ceremonies; he has the final say on every crucial matter that requires a critical judgment of the city hall chief executive.
Whether he fails or succeeds, the buck stops on his table.
For sure, there were those who did attempt to tell him to go slow on the issue against the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD).
But he didn’t.
Public opinion showed the odds were stacked against him. Some were saying it backfired.
Mayor Joe III’s unfortunate bicker with the water utility’s board of directors, his baptism of fire after clinching the mayoral post on October 30, 2017, has remained unresolved before 2018 came.
Recently, for sure, there were those within his coterie of consultants who tried but failed to dissuade him from closing the Plaza Rizal Street in Jaro district for vendors on January 8, 2018 through an executive order.
Not all his recent decisions were popular, in the same manner that not all the suggestions or opposition from his acolytes were reasonable and acceptable.
Because of the city mayor’s executive order, vendors have erected kiosks on two lanes of the four-lane road as part of the 2018 Jaro Agro-Industrial and Charity Fair from Jan. 8 to Feb. 8. The fair is part of the Jaro fiesta celebration that will highlight on Feb. 2.
The closure order didn’t sit well with pedestrians and motorists caught in traffic jam as a result.
But because the city mayor has the solid backing from City Administrator Hernando Galvez and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), he won’t believe Councilor Plaridel Nava, a lawyer like him, who considered the executive order as legally infirm.
Ilonggos will have to brace for more surprises on Mayor Joe III’s brand of leadership as he completes the remaining term of office of his predecessor, Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, in 2019.
Some of his detractors may be waiting for Mayor Joe III to slip in the banana peel or to commit bad and unpopular decisions while in office and kiss goodbye his chances to win the same position in May 2019.
But there are also strong chances he will finish the remaining 15 months of Mabilog’s unfinished term with flying colors.
This was made possible after he reportedly retained some of Mabilog’s best consultants, not to mention his built-in rapport with his former peers in the city council.
Among those who are reportedly helping rev up his engine in public service are former vice mayor, Dr. Guillermo dela Llana, and former city councilors, Victor Facultad and Dr. Perla Zulueta.
Dela Llana is one of the only few consultants that Mayor Joe III respects most when it comes to running a public office.
Back in 1990s when Dela Llana was vice mayor and Mayor Joe III was senior member of the city council, they worked together like father and son. So closed were Dela Llana and Mayor Joe III that they would sometimes swap some trusted staffers.
Then Councilor Joe III also “accommodated” casual workers handpicked by then Vice Mayor De Llana.
When Dela Llana, Joe III, and the late former Councilor Eduardo Laczi formed a triumvirate in the city council, they became Mayor Mansueto Malabor’s “headaches.”
Facultad and Zulueta were also his most trusted and long-time allies and some of the only few remnants of their dreaded bloc in the city council that brought nightmares to the Malabor administration./WDJ