RE-ELECTED Manila Vice Mayor Maria Shielah “Honey” Lacuna-Pangan believes being a doctor and a woman became her edge when she first served in the post in 2016.

Frustration from unimplemented projects due to conflicts in her previous term prompted her to run again for office, with healthcare and medical-related projects for the people of Manila as her priority.

The 54-year-old Lacuna said that occupying the second highest seat in the country’s capital, she was not able to implement her projects and could not secure funds from the city government because of differences with former president and outgoing mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada.

This influenced her to run again, this time with Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso for mayor. With a new administration ahead of her, she said she would be able do her job properly as the right hand of the mayor in governing the city of Manila.

“We presented our platforms really well. Why would we promise heaven and earth, hindi naman nila kailangan ‘yon, simple lang like food on their table and tumaas ang sweldo,” she told the Varsitarian.

Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso and Honey Lacuna greet their supporters from the balcony of the Manila City Hall on Sunday, June 30 after taking their oath as leaders of the country’s capital. (Photo by Deejae S. Dumlao/The Varsitarian)

The UST biology alumna said the shift from medical to political life was an easy transition for her since her father, Danilo “Danny” Lacuna, was vice mayor of Manila from 1988 to 1992 and 1998 to 2004.

Before she entered politics, she worked as a physician in the city health office and handled her father’s medical missions.

Her interest in gunning for a seat in the city council came after she took up her residency training, but her father discouraged her from doing so.

“[Politics] is not our bread and butter, that any time we can leave and practice our profession, [he said] parang sasayangin daw [namin ‘yong aming professions], but I guess nagkamali [siya] doon,” she said.

Before running for vice mayor in 2016, she served as a city councilor for nine years. She was then appointed head of the social welfare department of Manila and served for three years.

Chance for redemption

Despite conflicts and funding issues, Lacuna was still able to win more hearts over as her 268,969 votes in the 2016 vice mayoral elections significantly increased to 394,766 votes in this year’s mid-term elections.

“When Mayor Estrada took over, sobrang tumaas ‘yong taxes sa Manila so maraming hindi nakakapagbayad [kaya] ngayon magkakaroon ng amnesty tapos bababaan namin ‘yong taxes,” she said. “Everything that I do basically goes back to the duties and responsibilities of the vice mayor which is to make laws.”

She said she and Moreno have lined up short-term social services programs and long-term ones, or those that involve infrastructure.

“We need to have a budget before August so that [we have] enough [to] provide [the funding needed by] these ordinances or laws that we want to [implement] in 2020,” she said.

During her first term as vice mayor, Lacuna proposed an ordinance that would give free maintenance medicines especially to the elderly, but it was not implemented due to lack of support and funding.

Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna arrives at the Manila City Hall for her oathtaking ceremony. (Photo by Deejae S. Dumalo/The Varsitarian)

As she assumes her post anew, she intends to push through with the proposal and provide medical services such as chemotherapy and dialysis.

“Being a door-to-door doctor sort of became my battle cry. [There are] people [who] would write to me [but] instead of giving them financial assistance, I would ride a motorcycle, I would go to their houses myself and provide free medical checkups,” she said.

As regards the mass distrust on vaccines caused by the Dengvaxia anti-dengue vaccine scare, resulting in a significant decrease of all the vaccinations throughout the city, Lacuna plans to continue her door-to-door health services to regain the people’s trust in vaccinations.

War on drugs in Manila

Lacuna said the war on drugs was a very difficult situation to handle in Manila, claiming that there was a cycle to the war on drugs and that children from poor families became collateral damage.

She argued that this was because of the flaws and loopholes of the Juvenile Welfare Law, which states that children below 18 years old cannot be sentenced to jail for a crime.

On the fall of political dynasties this election, Lacuna said “the people have spoken.”

“It’s about time. Nakikita na rin ng tao  [and] they have had enough of these dynasties [at] siguro mas gusto talaga ngayon ang young blood. I have nothing against families running one after the other kung walang ginagawang [masama],” she said.

Lacuna also said she, together with Moreno, would prioritize the improvement of local government services.

“Hopefully, we could work hand-in-hand because we really have a lot of problems here in our city and we cannot do it alone,” Lacuna said. “We need the cooperation of every Manileño here in the city of Manila.”

Lacuna, together with Moreno, took her oath on June 30 and will assume office on July 1. J.A.C. Casucian, K.I.C. Gonzales


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