Transformative Leader for People, Planet, Prosperity & Peace: Amazing life of service of Mayor Oscar S. Moreno

By : Orlan Ravanera Mindanao Today/09:46:27am 09/27/2021


By Orlando Ravanera

“From time to time, there appear on the face of the earth men of rare and consummate excellence who dazzle us by their virtue, and whose outstanding qualities shed a stupendous light. Like those extraordinary stars whose origins we are ignorant and whose fate once they have vanished we know even less, such men have neither forebears nor descendants, they are the whole of their race.”

THERE is no greater grandeur sight in the world than a great leader, fired with a great purpose, dominated by one unwavering aim – to serve the people especially the poor and the oppressed and to protect the integrity of the environment.

The honorable Oscar S. Moreno is so amazing leader whose life of service as an elected official is always in the maximum: first elected as Congressman, serving the 1st District of Misamis Oriental for six years (two terms), then as Misamis Oriental’s governor, serving maximum period of nine years, then as Mayor of Cagayan de Oro, again elected three times.

Indeed, he is a leader sui generis (one of a kind) as he excels where ever or whenever he serves, exemplifying to the highest degree the Constitutional mandate that “a public office is a public trust, serving his constituency to the highest degree of service, dedication and commitment.”

A man of integrity, he exemplifies the qualities of a transformative leader, putting in clear categorical term the essence of “salus populi est suprema lex!” (The welfare of the people is the supreme law!).

Transformation is indeed the imperative call of the times as shown by this great leader. Why is this so?

For those who have dreamt, struggled, sacrificed and even died for it, social change has been so elusive all these years despite 14 years of Martial Law and two-people powered revolutions.

The ingredients, systems and structures breeding poverty, oppression, corruption, gross inequities and social injustices are still as formidable as ever.

As the 2022 national elections is fast approaching, let us be reminded of the Constitutional Declaration that in a Republican and Democratic State, “Sovereignty resides with the people and all governmental powers emanate from them.”

In exercising that right of suffrage, the people always choose Oscar S. Moreno, be it as congressman, as governor or as mayor.

No doubt, glaring is his exemplification of that amazing life of service. As a friend for almost three decades now, may I share how amazing this leader really is.

There are leaders who are posturing themselves as spiritual liberators or environmental defenders but when unmasked are nothing but perpetuators of colonial mentality that imprisons the poor people to a mind that makes them willing victims of oppression.

Thus, we have lost our ecological integrity because many of these politicians have sacrificed mother Earth and the people to the altar of greed and profit.

In the ‘90s, some fifty ten-wheelers were passing Cagayan de Oro from 12 midnight to 5 a.m., transporting illegally cut logs from the hinterlands of Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon.

These logging activities then were all illegal as these finest of trees were cut in areas with a topography of more than one thousand meters above sea level or in slopy areas with more than 50% gradients.

As environmental defenders, we stopped these illegal logging activities through human barricades.

Illegal logging and illegal mining activities then stopped when we were able to secure a “Writ of Kalikasan” with the support then of this leader during his stint as governor of Misamis Oriental.

During his stint as Mayor of Cagayan de Oro, Mayor Moreno understands very well why Typhoon Sendong happened on December 17, 2011.

I told him that one-inch of rainfall in the two hundred thousand hectares denuded area in the Kalatugan Range that had been massively logged by six logging companies for four decades will be about one meter high when the floods reach the 200-hectare urban center of Cagayan de Oro.

Ten inches of rains from that range means ten-meter floods – that was Sendong when 3,000 people died.

Thus, when he became mayor of Cagayan de Oro, reclaiming back the integrity of the environment was foremost in the mind of Mayor Moreno, the reason why he fully supported the replanting of the denuded areas in the uplands, fully supporting the Payment for Ecological Services (PES) Program of the Cooperatives when the cooperatives collectively launched the program during my stint as CDA regional director.

It is so amazing to know that the City of Cagayan de Oro got the top five rating nation-wide on the Government Energy Management Program with 93% outstanding mark as the city has exemplified to the highest degree the roadmap to counter climate change as verified by no less than the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) recently.

Congratulations, Mayor Moreno for that outstanding performance, serving notice to one and all that at the time that the Earth is now in the emergency planetary stage facing its 6th extinction, here is a leader who shows the way on advancing sustainability in an unsustainable world.

What is even so amazing was when he appointed a good friend, Engr. Armen Cuenca as the City Local Environment Officer (CLENRO) and recently as the city’s energy czar.

Engr. Armen is one of the core organizers of Climate Smart Livelihood Advocacy Cooperative as a countervailing force against climate change and violent extremism.

We are now in the state of planetary emergency and it has become imperative to have a robust movement to stop our accelerating drive towards ecological disasters.

The Philippines is the 3rd country in the world worst hit by climate change according to the United Nations’ Disaster Risk Index.

Mayor Moreno understands very well that the rural people are the most affected by climate change and the protracted war.

This is the conclusion of the Study by the World Bank as reported by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) categorically stating that poverty is worse in the rural areas as the agricultural communities only have .02 percent growth in the Gross Domestic Product.

Because of this painful truism, three out of four young farmers have already left farming and have gone to the urban centers to work as janitors, drivers or waiters.

As a counter measure being done by the City of Cagayan de Oro, rural development is foremost in the mind of the present leadership and the CLENRO has scaled the heights not only to regain back the lost ecological integrity but to empower those in margins to be drawn into the mainstream of development processes.

As the city’s energy czar, Engr. Armen is promoting eco-friendly products such as the use more energy and economically efficient bulbs which are made locally to stop the importation of some three million bulbs from China annually that are not eco-friendly and destroying our rich marine and fishery resources as these are made of plastics.

Empowering the poor and the oppressed and regaining back ecological integrity – these are just some of the legacies of Mayor Oscar S. Moreno! To him, our firm salute!

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