For the longest time, government officials in the Philippines, from barangay councilors up to and including the president of the republic, have been viewed, almost unanimously, by the populace as being corrupt, self-serving, scheming, and devoid of any scruples whatsoever.
Exceptions to this rule are very far and very few in between, which is why the terms “respectable local official”, “morally-upright politician”, and “competent public servant” are now universally considered, at least in the Philippines, to be totally oxymoronic.
Enter Mayor Exuperio “Eksam” Lloren of Jagna, Bohol, one of the many local government officials today who are proud, defiant even, to call themselves “Akbayan members.”
An activist since forever, Mayor Eksam chose to give local politics a go after deciding, finally, to try a different activist path. In his first attempt, he was elected Barangay Captain of Pagina, one of the 33 barangays of Jagna. During this period, he also became the president of Jagna’s Association of Barangay Captains (ABC), which elevated his status to that of a municipal councilor.
He must have been exceptionally effective at being barangay captain and ABC president because, when the next election came around, “Captain Eksam” suddenly became “Mayor Eksam!” Considering that he isn’t a movie actor – although he can easily pass for one – a scion of a local political clan, or a jueteng lord, this feat becomes all the more remarkable.
Obviously, the values and principles that guided him during his young activist days still served him well when he applied them to his local governance work; so much so that he was voted for a second term as mayor of Jagna.
Under his watch, the people of Jagna were finally able to meaningfully participate in the development of their Local Economic Development Plan. Small wonder since Mayor Eksam, like Akbayan, has always espoused consultative and participative governance processes.
Knowing full well that Jagna must not depend solely on their meager Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) income, the local government – led by Mayor Eksam – focused on building up Jagna’s local economies, especially those related to the municipality’s traditional agricultural products.
Cooperatives were set up for Jagna’s Ube planters and Kalamay producers and, soon, for the rice farmers, and vegetable and cut-flower growers as well. Jagna’s local government also saw the value of investing in the technical training of its youth. The marketing of local products was likewise improved and “organic farming” soon became their battle-cry.
Mayor Eksam must have done something right because Jagna’s annual income has been increasing at an exponential rate (an average of ten million Pesos a year) since 2001, the year he was first voted into office. Is it still a wonder then why, even now, his supporters are already looking forward to when he becomes more than just “Mayor Eksam?”
This coming 14th of May, he will be running for his third and last term. Barring any untoward human machinations, his victory is already a foregone conclusion.
Mayor Eksam is doing his part for the development of the country and Akbayan is proud and committed to support him every step of the way.