Mayor Ben Abalos Sr. makes a comeback

“I am returning to politics to fulfill my last promise to Cora. I have made the last promise to my wife to spend the remaining years of my life serving the Mandalenos once again, in honor of her.”

This was veteran public servant Benjamin Abalos Sr.’s statement when he expressed his intention to return to public life and run as mayor of the City of Mandaluyong way back in October 2021. Nine months before that, her wife, Corazon, succumbed to complications of Covid-19.

His last public position was being the chairperson of the Commission on Elections, to which he resigned amid impeachment worries over accusations of being part of the controversial NBN-ZTE deal under former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Fifteen years later, Mayor Ben Abalos Sr., who gained a wide lead in the mayoral race in the City last May, has now returned to the position he served from 1986 to 1987 and 1988 to 1998.

Speaking to Daily Tribune’s online Straight Talk program, Abalos discussed leading the City alongside her daughter-in-law, Vice Mayor Carmelita “Menchie” Aguilar-Abalos: “I am glad about Menchie since every now and then, he visits the dead in our community. Sabi ko, sige, bahala ka na. Ikaw na bahala sa patay, ako na bahala sa buhay,” Abalos said.

Despite being 88 years old, Abalos kept himself busy, particularly in working on matters related to the city throughout the day:

“At 4:30 in the morning, I am up. Then at about 5:30, I go to Wack Wack (Golf and Country Club). I hit a few balls, take a shower, then head straight to the office. By 8:30, I arrive at the office and about every other day, I walked,” Abalos said.

“Kung minsan, umaabot ako ng hanggang gabi dito eh, hanggang may tao, hanggang maraming gagawin. I do not bring home the work kasi iba, dinadala ‘yung dokumento sa bahay. Ako, I don’t. I work here,” he added.

Leaving his position as mayor of the City in 1998, Abalos saw how Mandaluyong City progressed, which reminded him of how he led the City by prioritizing basic services while also catering to businesses for potential job opportunities.

Schools in every barangay

Indeed, Abalos remembered how he expropriated hectares of land which was distributed to 10,000 families, built the Mandaluyong Medical Center, and initiated the creation of schools in every barangay for schoolchildren to easily access.

However, he also addressed the economic needs of the people which, in turn, led to job opportunities and business hubs in Mandaluyong City.

“Kaya siguro nakikita ninyo ako noong araw, I have an ideal set for people na nasa business sector ng ating diyaryo para pag-usapan ang Mandaluyong. Salamat naman sa magandang katahimikan sa Mandaluyong because I have been telling people it is openly through a stable peace and order that you could invite and make business come into your place,” he explained.

Apart from these, Abalos expressed appreciation for the efforts of keeping Mandaluyong City flood-prone, which has been a longstanding issue in the City before.

“I want to again express our gratitude to President (Rodrigo) Duterte, especially to (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar. ‘Yung ginawa niya yung pumping station, napakaganda. We were able to address the flooding because of that.’”

Ending the conversation, Abalos gives credit to Vice Mayor Menchie Abalos for her efforts in caring for the sick and the elderly, as he focuses on the economic aspect of the City.

“Hanggang ngayon, nakita ko, walang may sakit na hindi niya dinadalaw. Walang namatay na hindi niya pinupuntahan. That is talagang very caring siya sa mga tao. Kaya ang ganda ng partnership namin,” Abalos said.

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