Azucena Huervas: from chapel leader to Valencia City’s new mayor

VALENCIA CITY (Bukidnon News.Net/11 June) — As President of Valencia’s Association of Barangay Councils (ABC), she became the barangays’ representative to the City Council, but while present in most of the council sessions up to 2010, she was the quiet one.

How she became the city’s second most powerful government official in 2010, Vice Mayor Azucena Huervas charged to faith in God and in herself, sincerity in service, and honesty.

On Monday, when she faced the public for the first time as the new city mayor of Valencia, Huervas refuses to call her fate destiny.

She wants to focus on it as a challenge of her leadership – as a responsibility given to her.
The enterprising native from Concepcion, Iloilo was into buy and sell business in the then municipality of Valencia in the 1980s when she became parish president of the San Vicente Chapel in Brgy. Catumbalon.
In 1997, she was elected as barangay kagawad (village councilor) and in 2002 won as a barangay chair against what seemed a formidable foe, a candidate who had served a total of 32 years in the village.

The B.S. Agriculture graduate from Central Mindanao University replaced then vice mayor Benjamin Verano, who died before his term of office ended.
Huervas says she least expects to be where she is now. Before Verano died, she had looked forward to retiring to look after her grandchildren.

When Mayor Leandro Jose Catarata first floated the possibility that she will take Verano’s place then, she hid in their barangay.

She said her husband would not let her because they agreed to serve their family after spending years in public service. And she found, too, that they didn’t have enough funds to bankroll the 45-day campaign.

She did not know how to refuse Catarata’s offer thrn. But the clincher was Governor Jose Ma. R., Zubiri Jr., made an unexpected visit and raised her hand in a gesture of endorsement in front of her constituents.
Huervas likens her vice mayoral post to that of presiding officer of Brgy. Catumbalon, which she was village chair from 2002.

She said as a city official, she needs to stand as a model, even to relatives who run in conflict with the law.

“I couldn’t just exempt them when they violate the law. It’s good the public would see that I mean it. I can put anyone to jail if they deserve it as I even do that to relatives,” she said of her experience as barangay chair.
Huervas, in 2010, pledged a city council that “sees eye to eye” with the city’s chief executive for the benefit of their constituents.

“We should run government like we run a home. The husband and wife must see eye to eye. If there is no harmony, the house will fail,” she added.

“If there is a mistake, it should be admitted. We can’t just fake it,” she said.

In her first press conference as mayor Monday, Huervas vowed to be consultative and to work for transparent and accountable governance.

Even in 2010, Huervas noted that peace and order will be among the key issues city officials will face.
Huervas wants to promote honesty in public office.
As vice mayor, she chaired the City Council’s oversight committee on good governance and anti-graft and corruption.

“I will closely watch graft and corruption. We will not tolerate any wrongdoing,” she said then.
“Maybe we can bump into many foes, but that will not make us tolerate wrongdoing,” she added. (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News.Net with a file story)