Hagedorn being interviewed on Palawan News' The Profile.

Former Puerto Princesa City mayor Edward Hagedorn says he is back in the game and ready to take a shot at a seat in Congress as Palawan’s third district representative.

In a tell-all interview with Palawan News, the former mayor recounted his lengthy and memorable political career, his plans for Palawan’s third district, and why he strongly believes that he changed the face of local politics.

“Ang tingin ko, ako ang nagbago sa pulitika eh. Binago ko ang pulitika, hindi ang pulitika ang nagbago sa akin. Kasi ang politics dito puro kapag kalaban ka, kalaban ka. Pinipili lang kung sino ang tutulungan, binago ko ‘yan. Ang pulitika natin, walang kalaban. Kung ikaw na ang ama ng bayan, wala ka nang pipiliin, kahit sino pa ang lumapit,” he said during his interview on The Profile.

Hagedorn traced his political beginnings back in 1992 when he first ran for mayor, to his appointment by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the “anti-jueteng czar” as part of the government’s initiative then to stomp out illegal two-numbers gambling. During his stint, he created the legal gambling counterpart called the small town lottery (STL).

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Hagedorn spoke of his “proudest achievement” of putting the city’s tourism sector on the forefront. It was during his term when the Puerto Princesa Underground River was declared as a national park.

“Very clear ang vision ko noong pumasok ako sa pulitika. Kalinisan, katahamikan, at kaunlaran. ‘Yan ang theme ko at the time. Nagfocus ako sa kaunlaran through tourism,” he said.

“Very in my career, may ginawa ako na hinangaan sa buong Pilipinas. ‘Yong pagkuha natin ng national park. Kasi nga, naka-focus ako sa tourism as part ng aking programa sa kalinisan, katahimikan, kaunlaran. Kaunlaran through tourism,” he added.

He stated that he has not forgotten the PPUR, especially seeing its state after the COVID-19 pandemic and Typhoon “Odette.” He added that a tourism recovery plan will be in the order of business if he wins a seat in Congress. The recovery plan involves cleaning up and promoting the destination.

As for his plans for Aborlan, which shares the same congressional district with Puerto Princesa City, he stated that he wants to improve the conditions of local farmers in the agriculturally-dependent municipality. He stated that many of the town’s farmers lack tenurial instruments to the lands they till. He also added that he will work on the legislative side of converting timberland with no more timber into alienable and disposable lands.

“Naiwanan na ng panahon ang Aborlan. Sa farming implements, sa basic needs ng mga farmers, kulang na kulang. Karamihan sa mga farmers ng Aborlan walang hawak na papel, walang tenurial instruments, puro barangay certification, kasi, tinigil ‘yong titling ng mga lupa,” he said.

Hagedorn’s edge

With almost three decades of political experience under his belt, Hagedorn has proven that he is a force to be reckoned with in any election season. However, as he eyes for a seat in Congress, a move he has never done before, he believes that he has the right experience needed for a lawmaker.

“Easy learner ako. Pero sa legislation, marami na akong track record. Na kahit hindi ako legislator, hindi ako abogado, marami tayong ginawang local ordinances na naging national. Unang-una, though hindi ito batas, ginawa natin ang Underground River bilang national park. Second, naipasok natin ang Underground River as a World Heritage Site,” he said.

He added another major achievement during his term was to make Puerto Princesa independent from the provincial government, a move that he said greatly made way for new projects and developments for the city. Lastly, he recounted how a previous move of declaring a state of calamity with his then-City Council without waiting for the president’s announcement was eventually adapted into national law. Now, local government units can declare their own state of calamities without the president’s announcement.

As for his legislature plans for Puerto Princesa, Hagedorn said he wants to push for sustainable development and reach carbon emission reduction goals.

Hagedorn also firmly believes he still has the “green vote” because of his history of advocating for the environment and eco-tourism for Puerto Princesa. He said that he is putting his faith in the 40,000 strong who will vote for him no matter where he goes.

“Kahit anong mangyari, kahit sino ang dalahin kong kandidato, nandyan ang 40,000 votes. I think ‘yan ang mga taong nainiwala sa programa ko, sa kalikasan,” he said.

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is a senior reporter for Palawan News who covers politics, education, environment, tourism, and human interest stories. She loves watching Netflix, reading literary fiction, and listens to serial fiction podcasts. Her favorite color is blue.