CLARK FREEPORT – Patrol Partylist Rep. Jorge Bustos and son, Masantol Mayor Jose Antonio “Tonton” Bustos, today shared vital insights onto their leadership, underscoring key points in public safety, economy and even in dealing with fake news.
Even with flooded hometown Masantol taking the brunt of questions during the KapiHann at Swissotel here, the father and son team shared takeaways in facing challenges and issues shared not just by the town but by the entire country.
The media forum is a joint project of the Pampanga Press Club and Hann Casino Resort.
The youngest mayor in the Philippines at 23 years old, took exception and proved doubters wrong as he explained that being young serves as an advantage as he could work long hours. He said that public service time is a round-the-clock schedule – from as early as his breakfast time, until way past dinnertime.
“Young age is never a disadvantage. It is an advantage. Kaya kung gumising ng alas singko. Mag check sa lahat ng barangay. Mag breakfast sa lipat ilog. Kaya ko po sumakay ng bangka at lumusong sa baha. Lunchtime naman mag relief operations and still be able to deliver (other) functions after lunch hanggang gabi meetings with department heads. After dinner, punta po tayo sa kababayan na nangangailangan pa rin ng tulong at makiramay po na may kamaganak na nauna o pumanaw na and finish the day by midnight,” he said.
Solution to flooding
Mayor Tonton at his young age is befaced with a problem that probably no other man his age has to tackle – perennial flooding.
He reported that 21,000 families were affected by flood spawned by Typhoons Egay and Falcon and aggravated by the soutwest monsoon. He said that all but the 26 barangays of Masantol are flooded, ranging from 1.5 feet to 3 feet high. Some 386 families have been taken to evacuation centers as of Wednesday morning. Relief goods have reached 19 barangays, with the rest of villages to be served in the coming days
“We are compelled now more than ever to really assist our constituents,” he added.
Mayor Tonton also acknowledged the cooperation and resiliency of townsfolk who he said always donned smiles despite flooding and inundation.
To solve the perennial headache, he recommends the construction of a ring dike and a breakwater system that will protect not just Masantol but other coastal towns of Pampanga like Macabebe.
In October last year, the young Bustos spearheaded the conduct of a flood summit attended by DPWH officials and leaders of adjoining towns of the 4th District of Pampanga where Masantol is a part of.
Public Safety and The Economy
While Patrol has been advocating for public safety, Rep. Bustos said that the partylist has a far deeper objective.
“Public safety is penultimate. Economic development is ultimate,” he said.
A check on the House of Representative’s (HOR) website showed that in June 2022, Rep. Bustos filed HB 0001 that provides for a stimulus package to various businesses by tapping on the funds of Government Financial Institutions (GFIs).
The bill, with Bustos as principal author, is known as An Act for GFIs Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) which has been approved by the HOR and has ben submitted to the Senate.
‘Do not weaponize youth’
Rep. Bustos said the Patrol partylist aims to keep the youth safe, along with their families.
“We have conducted dialogues in protecting the youth. This is a top priority,” he said.
He said that with his son Mayor Tonton serving as the national president of Patrol Partylist (Youth Sector), the advocacy and best practices could be replicated in other towns and localities.
“Stop weaponizing the youth. Hindi pwede. Dapat ang kabataan natin nag-aaral lang at nasa positive development,” the congressman said.
“Huwag mong gamitin sa gyera at sa negatibong paraan. At a very young age, we mold them, and make them involved even in maintstream politics. Not in drugs, not in being cadres,” he added.
Rep. Bustos also expressed thanks to the Pampanga Press Club, citing them as “chroniclers and storytellers of our time.”
“We are fortunate to speak before the esteemed members of PPC. May the blessing of democracy be with us so we may have a productive discussion,” he said.
While wary of the proliferation of fake news and other spurious press and broadcast outlets on social media, Bustos shared an advice.
“Marami nakasubaybay thru media. Media is a pillar of democracy. If you want to be sure with facts, you verify, you fact check. The recourse is to check with mainstream media,” he said.
In addressing the problems and issues of Masantol, both the Congressman and Mayor expressed gratitude to national leaders that include President Ferdinand Marcos, Senators Imee Marcos, Bong Go, Riza Hontiveros, Jinggoy Estrada as well as national government agencies.
They both commended Pampanga Governor Dennis Pineda.
“Talagang si Gov po mismo ang personal na naghahatid ng food packs. Salamat po sir,” the mayor said.