Millennial Mayors

New mayors Isko Moreno, Vico Sotto, and Francis Zamora demonstrate strong political will that their predecessors didn’t seem to have, and to achieve popular goals that earlier leaders promised but failed to achieve. Their style of millennial leadership should be replicated in other localities.  

Metro Manila’s skyline has been dramatically transformed in the past decade. From the air, acres of rusty tin roofs have given way to gleaming skyscrapers, proof of the country’s growing economic strength. But the metropolis remains one of the filthiest, most congested, and most disorderly urban areas in the world.

A former mayor, President Duterte is aware of this notoriety and has been pushing for “tambay”-free streets, a curfew for minors, and no-sale of liquor beyond midnight. He has also pushed for the cleanup of Manila Bay, following the successful drive in Boracay. In the end, though, much of the work is the purview of local government executives, not the president.

It is refreshing that a new batch of mayors in Metro Manila not only voted out political dynasties that mired their respective cities but are also showing new models of leadership that hopefully can scrub the capital region clean. These are young (millennial) leaders, characterized by brashness and fearlessness, enjoying strong mandates from their constituents, and successfully using media to do the necessary. The new mayors of Manila (Isko Moreno), Pasig (Vico Sotto), and San Juan (Francis Zamora) all demonstrate strong political will that their predecessors didn’t seem to have, and to achieve popular goals that earlier leaders promised but failed to achieve. We hope Joy Belmonte of Quezon City also joins these millennial reformists. 

Mayor Isko quickly went around freeing Divisoria and Carriedo/neighboring streets of illegal vendors, cleaning up public monuments, and preserving green spaces. Mayor Zamora has followed suit in Greenhills. To make these local efforts sustainable, national legislation is needed to ban single-use plastic (to reduce city littering), and to prohibit the purchase of cars unless it has a parking space (to reduce congestion). Metro Manila also needs to strongly enforce existing laws and ordinances on the preservation of historical buildings and heritage sites.

Their style of millennial leadership should be replicated in other localities. President Duterte has shown that excellent local leaders can be catapulted to national prominence. This should give inspiration to the millennial mayors to sustain what they have started.

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About the Author
Mr. Oscar F. Picazo is a retired specialist in health systems, health economics, and social policy. He has worked in 24 countries for the World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and as an independent consultant. He returned to the Philippines in 2009 and became a senior research consultant for the Philippine Institute of Development Studies.
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