For Cebu vice governor: Ex-governor or neophyte?

·5 min read

CEBU Vice Gov. Hilario Davide III of the Liberal Party faces Dr. Maria Theresa “Doc Tess” Villaluz-Heyrosa of One Cebu and John Enad of Abag Promdi, in his bid for reelection in next week’s polls.

Heyrosa, 50, is a political neophyte, while Davide, 57, has already been Cebu governor twice (2013-2016 and 2016-2019).

It would be a David and Goliath battle, except that the neophyte is looking to change the idea of what a vice governor should be.

Davide declined to participate in SunStar’s vice-gubernatorial Face-off, citing his busy schedule.

Name: Dr. Maria Theresa “Doc Tess” Villaluz-Heyrosa

Age: 50

Profession: Opthalmologist, cataract surgeon / SIC-Small Incision Cataract Surgeon

Highest educational attainment: University of the Visayas/Gullas College of Medicine (1998), Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center-graduate, residency training program in opthalmology (2008)

Previous experience:

Founder, Budjong Responders, participated in the Typhoon Yolanda relief efforts and still organizing medical and relief missions in Cebu

President, Mindanao Humanitarian Volunteers for Peace Inc., bringing medical and humanitarian missions to war-torn areas or conflict-areas in the Philippines such as Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-tawi, as well as other areas in Bohol, Davao, Surigao, Bukidnon

Vice President, SK Federation of Carcar (1997)

SK Chairman, Poblacion 2, Carcar (1992)

1. What are the three most urgent problems of Cebu? If elected, how would you address them?

The current administration led by Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia has accomplished a lot, in fact far more than anyone has ever done in the history of the Province of Cebu. However, the world is constantly evolving, new challenges have come up, so the work is always nonstop.

There are many things to do, and I see that the most prominent concern in the province now can be summed up into one: the need for a vice governor who can actively match the energy of Cebu’s most workaholic governor.

With over a decade of my being a humanitarian mission leader, I have proven that I am very much willing, able and capable of running around the remotest islands and mountains in the Philippines to deliver much needed services. Going to the people of the farthest corners of Cebu Province will be a smaller area but could widen my scope of services.

For many elective terms, a provincial vice governor can be seen sitting at his office doing legislative work, which is admittedly the main work of a vice governor. But I can do that, and much more. I can give the Cebuanos their first vice governor who they can actually see and touch through constant medical missions, and who can actually save and change lives.

I have given free surgeries for people even when I was still in the private sector. Imagine how that scope will be multiplied when I will be with the government to complement the works of our indefatigable governor.

2. How would you describe your leadership style?

The hands-on style, the one that never rests until we have delivered. As a leader, I have to show my team how it should be done, and that is to deliver programs and projects always with a sense of urgency.

If I am not in the office, it won’t be because I am relaxing or having recreation. It would be because I will be in the farthest areas climbing mountains or going to islets with the people, just as I have always been a decade before this elections.

3. How do you see Cebu Province 10 years from now?

Cebu will always be Cebu, a place and a people to reckon with in southern Philippines, as we have been since Magellan arrived. But if Cebuanos give this political neophyte a chance to serve in this three-year elective term, and if in the long run they would by any chance bless me with two more terms, then in 10 years’ time the Province of Cebu would have changed its mindset about what a vice governor should be.

And that is, more than just the usually perceived “spare tire” in government presiding over legislative sessions, Cebuanos would demand for a vice governor who can truly be called a servant of the public, whose heart and mind are always for the betterment of the Cebuanos.

4. Who are your models in terms of leadership and why?

At the local level, Gov. Gwen Garcia. She has made bold steps for Cebu, whether for social services that benefit the different sectors, infrastructure development, and those that benefit the economy of Cebu.

In her firm decision making, her goal is always to protect Cebu and the Cebuanos, and her projects have led to the development of the countryside. I have seen this myself as I have traveled to the many towns in the province, the joy of the people as they thank the governor for projects that have changed their lives drastically. And we have seen for ourselves how the best practices of Cebu Province are being replicated or made as model for implementation nationwide.

Gov. Gwen has always taken the lead and as such, the Province of Cebu is also taking the lead.

At the national level, I was in awe of the late health secretary Juan Flavier. As health secretary and later on senator of the Philippines, he revolutionized the way the government conducted information campaigns on health issues.

He was a really good example of how somebody from the medical field can be so resourceful in public service and introduce innovative health programs for the Filipinos.

He proved that being a physician and politician could go well together as both fields are intertwined by a common goal, which is public welfare.

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