(STAR) BIZLINKS By Rey Gamboa -Dirty Harry is definitely back in Manila.

Barely four months as the new mayor of the City of Manila, Alfredo ‘Dirty Harry’ Lim has initiated a number of changes that starkly differ with what his predecessor, Lito Atienza, now secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, did.

For starters, Lim had significantly toned down activities on Bay Walk, an action-packed promenade along Roxas Boulevard’s Manila Bay during the days of Atienza.

Lim had also reopened portions of Avenida St. to motor vehicle traffic, again a reversal of Atienza during his stint as mayor. Even before the Court of Appeals could rule on the fate of Arroceros Forest Park, Lim ‘gave’ it back to environmentalists.

As if reminding the current administration that Manila has been regained by the opposition, Lim defiantly declared Mendiola, a crucial gateway to the Malacañang Palace grounds where the President resides, as open to rallies by militants, at least during weekends and holidays.

More recently, Lim had ordered the dismantling of Little Vietnam, a notorious and growing community of informal settlers tainted by stories of killing and drug dealings.

Different stroke

It might seem that Lim is just out to defy any and all that the previous Manila City government has upheld. And yet, a closer look at his program shows a remarkable likeness, at least in the realm of visioning, of doing something that would benefit the city and its residents and businesses.

If Atienza had ‘Buhayin ang Maynila,’ Lim has ‘Linisin at Ibangon ang Maynila.’ And yes, both city administrators, in their own peculiar fashions, clearly dedicate their respective programs towards the improved welfare of the city.

11-point program

As a former policeman, it is not surprising that Lim will give emphasis to ridding Manila with all forms of lawlessness ‘illegal drugs, petty crimes such as hold-ups and robberies, unlicensed firearms, vehicles and motorcycles, and even undisciplined, erring policemen and law enforcers.

In fact, the war against criminality is the first entry in his 11-point agenda to ‘restore the rule of law in the City of Manila through leadership, integrity and good governance.’ Expect to see therefore more of the ‘spray-paint-on-drug-pushers’- doors’ campaigns.

But then again, behind the tough image that has earned Lim his ‘Dirty Harry’ name, is still very much the no-nonsense demeanor of a very capable local government chief executive.

The remaining 10 other listings in his 11-point program clearly address the needs of the city’s growing’ but still predominantly urban poor population. Second and third on Lim’s agenda are education and health, basic services that majority of the City’s 10 million middle- and low-income population would without doubt appreciate.

Among the priorities laid out for education are the improvement of physical facilities; restoration of heritage schools; introduction of computer education even at the Grade School level; increase in the number of pre-school classes, as well as improvement in enrollment at the Pamantasan ng Lunsod ng Maynila; emphasis on technical and vocational education and training; and the promotion of teachers’ programs for cultural values.

For health, Lim talks about upgrading existing hospitals and open hospitals in District 3 & 6; increasing the supply of medicines; cleaning up neighborhoods; providing more medical and dental services in schools; enhancing the role of health centers in community health programs; promoting a “Responsible Parenthood” health program; and inviting physicians to give free medical services and care.

Closer to citizens

Included in Lim’s program is the commitment to bring Manila residents closer to the city government. As such, the 83-year-old mayor talks about convening weekly town hall meetings to get his feel of what his constituents want and need.

In addition, Lim has vowed to impose deadlines on citizens’ requests and complaints as well as cutting the red tape prevalent in government offices.

The good mayor is also insistent about conducting public consultations with all stakeholders in the continuing urban planning and rehabilitation of the city. He is also calling for the involvement of all of Manila’s six districts in the ongoing urban planning.

Aside from instituting a program for better governance, Lim is also batting for even greater transparency in the conduct of the city government’s day to day affairs.

Upholding the environment and culture

Understandably, Lim emphasizes on the need for a sound environmental program. As the center of the greater Metro Manila, rising pollution levels need to be given closer attention.

Lim proposes to rehabilitate parks and green areas to reduce air pollution. Similarly, the city government has expressed concern about the water pollution of Manila Bay, Pasig River and the city esteros.

Aside from reducing and monitoring disposals of factory and hospital waste, Lim is keen on implementing a city-wide waste management and garbage disposal program, as well as encouraging citizen participation in garbage segregation and disposal.

In support of Manila’s historical and cultural importance, Lim is re-opening Museo ng Maynila and the Metropolitan Theatre, aside from implementing a cultural tourism program and encouraging exchange visits between Manila and other cities.

From the look of things, Dirty Harry will have his hands full for the whole duration of his three-year term. And Manileños are expectantly watching what the return of Lim will bring to their city.

Fil-Oil/ Flying V Philippine Collegiate Champion Cup

Three provincial collegiate champion teams are in the elite group of ‘Sweet Sixteen’ for this year’s competition for the coveted Fil-Oil Flying V Philippine Collegiate

Champion Cup. They will join the champions and top rated teams from major leagues in Metro Manila in a knock-out (losers go home) tournament to determine the best collegiate team for the 2007 season.

The qualifying provincial teams are the University of Visayas Green Lancers, CESAFI champion; Western Negros Colleges Mustangs, representing NOPSEA; and Sacred Heart Colleges Stallions, representing the Tacloban City collegiate league.

Four teams are still battling it out to represent Mindanao in the elite group of 16 teams.

For this year’s Collegiate Champions League (CCL) competitions, the Fil-Oil Flying V Sports group headed by Virgil Villavicencio has put up the prizes to be awarded to the Final Four. These include scholarships and athletic facilities funding in the total amount of P850,000.

The CCL competitions shall start on the 10th of November 2007. All the exciting games will be covered by Solar Entertainment. Watch for it.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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