A different JPT

By: Manuel “Boy” Mejorada

I HAVEN’T had the chance to see Mayor Jerry P. Treñas since election day, but I have followed closely everything that he has done from day one in office. Right away, I saw that it was a different JPT, as he is usually called, who had taken over the helms of City Hall from his brother-in-law, former Mayor Joe Espinosa III. In the past, Treñas was seen as cautious and deliberate in his actions. Now it is an impatient man, with occasional outbursts, and more decisive.

After five months in office, Treñas has put in motion many initiatives to keep Iloilo City moving forward. His motto of taking the city to “the next level” seems to have injected a sense of urgency in every undertaking. Even the proposal to embark on a private-public partnership (PPP) for the development and improvement of public markets are gaining momentum. Over the last decade, all that had been accomplished for public markets was talk, talk and talk.

I got a glimpse into the changing leadership style of JPT from last week’s Boy Mayor, Francis Javier III, who was interviewed over RMN 774 on Saturday. Javier described a typical day of JPT as a non-stop chain of meetings with investors, city hall executives and constituents. “When a problem is brought to his attention, Mayor Treñas would pick up the phone and instruct somebody to attend to it at once,” Javier said.

Indeed, it is a sharp departure from the slow and deliberate workflow that JPT had been known for during his previous nine years as local chief executive. “I’ll study it,” was his usual reply when reporters would ask him about a matter pending on his table. This earned him the moniker “Mr. I’ll Study It” with the local media. It didn’t mean nothing was accomplished. But things were slow-paced.

This new-found sense of urgency could be seen in the road-clearing operations undertaken by the LGU in compliance with the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to reclaim public roads and clear them of obstructions.

Treñas deployed teams to carry out the directive. After 60 days, Iloilo City was rated only 83% in work accomplishment. Not bad, but not good enough. It put Iloilo City only in the medium-accomplishment category only.

For Treñas, no excuses are acceptable for not accomplishing 100%. He has pressured the offices in the LGU with the mandate to carry out the demolition of obstructions and clearing of illegally-parked vehicles to step up on their activities. I have personally seen these teams brave the scorching hot sun in dismantling structures and ordering owners of illegally-parked vehicles to vacate. The tempo has increased. Nobody is spared.

There are still grey areas. For instance, there are existing ordinances that allow on-road parking. Even in the busiest streets of New York and other big cities around the world, on-road parking is allowed in designated areas. Perhaps the City Council can review these areas and adopt a comprehensive parking ordinance for the city. We have to remember that overdoing this road-clearing might kill local businesses.

But one thing is now clear: JPT is now more action-oriented. The political will is apparent. He is man in a hurry. Hopefully, he can sustain this brand of leadership. Iloilo City needs a firm hand at the helm to steer it toward faster economic growth. Investors want to see a decisive leader. JPT, from all indications, fits the bill.