BAGUIO CITY — Entering the political arena for the first time and starting late in the campaign trail, former police general Benjamin Magalong said it is time to “deliver results” and go with the commitment of a “breath of fresh air” for the more than 400,000 residents of this mountain resort city.
“The people have a high expectation, so we really have to start hitting the ground,” said Magalong in a media interview after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) proclaimed him as the mayoralty winner before midnight on May 13.
“We are so lucky that the clamor of Baguio is change. At the end of the day, we just simply have to deliver results. Rest assured that I won’t fail you,” Magalong said. “Right timing. Tamang-tama breath of fresh air. At the end of the day we just simply have to deliver,” he added.
Other winning bets include Congressional bet Marquez “Mark” Go and councilor Faustino Olowan for vice mayor.
“My only commitment to the people of Baguio is we will strongly and aggressively pursue our strategy and programs to be able to fix the issues affecting Baguio,” Magalong said.
He called on Baguio residents to work together and cooperate with him, saying “there’s a lot of things to be done”.
“Kung kayang pagtuunan ng pansin ng sabay-sabay bakit hindi. Magtulungan tayo (If we can address all the issue at the same time, why not. Let’s work hand in hand),” he said.
He said that as the city’s new mayor, he would continue to engage with the different sectors,
Magalong served the Philippine National Police in various capacities, both operational and management, in his over 38 years in the service. He also chaired the Philippine National Police board of inquiry that probed the case of the 44 fallen members of the Special Action Forces (SAF 44).
He said he wanted to give back to Baguio, where he intends to continue living with his family.
“There’s no better place to live in for my family than Baguio. I am from Baguio and I will always be a Baguio boy, and I want to give back to the city after serving the nation,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Born and raised in Baguio, Magalong completed his education from Saint Louis University and at the Philippine Military Academy, graduating magna cum laude in 1982.
After retiring from the service in December 2016, he served as senior vice president for operations of Steel Asia Corp., a major firm in the Philippines.
Magalong started to hit the ground after filing his certificate of candidacy on the last day on October 17, 2018.
He said he consulted his family, and it took him a while to decide whether to run for the 2019 polls.
Being a first timer, he had to introduce himself personally to the people of Baguio. Magalong took every opportunity to be with the residents, meeting different sectors — starting the day early and going home past midnight.
For him, the grueling part was before and during the campaign period. Like any other candidates, he lacked sleep, felt exhausted, but said all was worth it.
“To be honest, I wasn’t expecting the margin would he like this. We pushed ourselves too much. We are so lucky that the clamor is change,” he said.
Pamela Mariz Geminiano and Liza Agoot / PNA – northboundasia.com