By Chito Chavez
Carrying her battle cry of bringing inclusive development to the most populous city in the country, Quezon City, Vice-Mayor Joy Belmonte was an early bird after filing her certificate of candidacy (CoC) for mayor on Thursday at the Commission on Elections office in the city.
Surrounded by hundreds of her supporters that included her father, former House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Senate President Tito Sotto, Belmonte said she is running for the city’s top post in the 2019 polls under a banner of good governance and social services for the city’s poorest.
Third Councilor Gian Carlo Sotto, the son of the Senate president, also filed his COC as Belmonte’s running mate.
But what caught many by surprise was Second District Councilor Rodrick Paulate who filed his COC for vice mayor with his running mate, former Rep. Chuck Mathay who is running for mayor.
Paulate said that the case filed against him accusing him of employing ghost employees does not hinder his vice-mayoralty bid.
“Quezon City is a rich city because it has the revenue, the money, but there are still so many poor residents living here. The next stage of the city’s progress is bringing that wealth down to the poorest sectors,” Belmonte said in an interview.
Belmonte added, “Kasama ka sa pag-unlad. Iyan ang gusto kong ipangako sa bawat isa sa lungsod. (You are included in the progress. That is what I want to promise to each and everyone in the city).”
Belmonte, who is on her third and last term, vowed to bring about a new brand of leadership for the city that focuses on education, more accessible government services, livelihood and job programs, housing for the poor, and infrastructure.
She added her unique proposition is her nine years of experience as vice mayor and city council head.
Under her leadership, the Quezon City council has passed landmark ordinances on the city’s housing and anti-drug initiatives.
“I’ve already laid the groundwork for what I want to do as mayor. I worked with the city council to pass measures for affordable housing, more benefits for senior citizens, more services for all residents. Ang kulang na lang ay ang mas masugid na implementation (What we only lack ay a more vibrant implementation),” Belmonte pointed out.
On the program level, Belmonte has presented the achievements of the Quezon City Anti-Drug Abuse Advisory Council (QCADAAC) which she heads.
As chairperson of QCADAAC, Belmonte’s programs have been recognized and awarded by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO).
Belmonte has also counted herself as a “life-long public servant” recalling her one year stint in Bukidnon as a volunteer teacher which is her first taste of public leadership.
She hailed her father, Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte who served as Quezon City mayor from 2001 to 2010 as a key driver behind the city’s progress.
On taking up the leadership of the city her father is known for, Belmonte said, “I’m not only continuing my dad’s legacy. I’m improving upon it.”
Belmonte and Gian Sotto will campaign under the banner of Serbisyo sa Bayan Party (SBP), a regional party based in Quezon City.
SBP is allied with the Davao-based Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP). Belmonte is also running with the backing of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) national party.
If victorious, Belmonte will succeed incumbent Mayor Herbert Bautista, who has served three terms.
The vice mayor will be running against First District Rep. Vincent “Bingbong’’ Crisologo.