New Valencia City mayor vows transparency, accountability

VALENCIA CITY (Bukidnon News/10 June) Vice Mayor Azucena Huervas, who assumed as Valencia City’s new mayor Monday, vowed to pursue transparent and accountable governance in her administration, one she inherited after Jose M. Galario Jr’s warrant of arrest as a convict of a graft case was served on June 6.

Huervas faced Bukidnon reporters in her first public appearance as mayor in a press conference where she and the rest of the members of the city council addressed issues that catapulted her to power.

“We are looking at good governance – fair delivery of services to the people. We assure transparency …Our accountability to the people who choose us,” the newly assumed mayor, who took her oath on Thursday before Gov. Jose Ma. Zubiri Jr. Zubiri was in Manila en route for a private trip abroad.

Huervas said she will prioritize programs on health, education, and security. She also cited infrastructure and agriculture as part of her priorities.

She is keen on pursuing that Valencia City will become “organic rice capital” but “right now we focus on our priority to organize the employees (of the city agriculture office).”

“If we say organic capital; there should be personnel to back it up. If you plan to pursue it, back it up with work (don’t just leave it as a plan). We need to sit down to work on this,” she added.

She clarified that they will provide good services as long as the city government can afford it “with the support of the city council.”

Huervas, who started as a village chairperson before becoming vice mayor in 2010, said others look at her assumption as mayor as a destiny but she looks at it as responsibility.

Interviewed after the May 2010 polls, Huervas said she wants to promote honesty in public office.
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 said. (See related story)

Huervas said she will pursue investigating alleged anomalies in the operation of the city central public market.

In the press conference Monday, Huervas cited that to avoid a bloated bureaucracy, there has to be an inventory of personnel among the city government’s different departments. She said she ordered inventory among personnel already.

“Leaders use different techniques. I will not pay for someone who doesn’t work. If they work, we pay. But we also check it with the city government’s budget,” she said, adding she issued a memorandum to department heads to submit their inventory of personnel.

Huervas clarified that those who have formal work appointments will receive pay.

“I don’t mark employees (based on political lines). If we have budget and they perform, we pay,” she added.

Huervas said she will pursue the programs and projects committed by the deposed mayor up to the end of the year.

Unlike her predecessor, Huervas said she have to conduct an assessment of performance of the department heads first before thinking of a revamp. Mayor Galario, whose “lack of trust and confidence” in 2001 to Mr. Ruth Piano, then city budget officer, replaced her, who complained against it before the Civil Service Commission. The commission elevated the case to the Ombudsman after Galario refused to reinstate Piano even with the CSC’s order.

Huervas said she will reinstate Juanita Javier, the city social welfare and development officer, who Galario transferred to the senior citizen’s office.

“I will restore Mrs. Javier because she is the licensed social welfare officer,” she added. She cited the need to review the City’s Fund for the Protection of Children to check on its implementation so far after a question on the spread of “rugby-sniffing” children in the city’s streets.

Huervas cited peace and order among her priorities but also called on the public to be extra careful.

“I even hesitate to go out at night in the city because of the lack of police personnel. Let’s be vigilant personally,” she added, in responding to a question on safety of visitors to the city.

She said there is a need to put security in order in the city “but give me time.” (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News.Net, with reports)