Political newcomer Dante Diaz may lack the experience that political veterans bank on winning every election, but he is still willing to take on the challenge and aims to win Puerto Princesa City’s mayoral race.
In an interview on Palawan News’ The Profile, Diaz spoke of his humble beginnings, telling a real-life rags-to-riches story that began in Brooke’s Point, his hometown.
Though born poor, Diaz proved to be a businessman through and through. During his college days, he supported himself by washing and dispatching tourist transport vans and driving a tricycle when he had no classes.
“Tuwing hapon, akala ng mga classmate at teacher ko na mayaman ako kasi sinusundo ako ng shuttle van. Hindi nila alam, pagdating sa bayan, huhugasan ko ‘yon. Ang bayad sa akin is 100 pesos per van. Hanggang alas-siyete ng gabi, nakakatatlong van ako, ‘yon ang pantustos ko ng aking pag-aaral,” he said.
As an adult, he began working as a private driver to a politician. But without his boss, he would drive a multicab in Puerto Princesa City to earn more. After his stint as a private driver, he worked at a bank during mornings and as a tricycle driver at night. However, his wealth only started growing when he invested in a truck and offering services to a mining company in Narra.
After living in Puerto Princesa for 22 years, Diaz decided to run for mayor because of what he perceived as insufficient help to the common people from the local government. He added that he immediately went for the highest executive position because he believes he can provide the most help with that position.
“Ikot ako nang ikot sa Puerto, nakita ko ang karaniwang mas na medyo nahihirapan na. May tulong sa atin ang gobyerno pero kaunti. Kaya naisipan kong tumulong kaya naisipan kong tumakbo na mayor. Kaya mayor kasi kapag kagawad, hindi natin sila [ang mga tao] matutulungan,” he added.
Diaz promised he would instill “real change” in Puerto Princesa City should he be voted for mayor. He aims to also put up a general hospital in Puerto Princesa, create a drainage master plan to avert frequent flooding, and to lengthen the renewal period for motor boat owners and tricycle drivers to three years.
“Noong may pandemic, hindi rin nakakalabas ‘yong mga may bangka. Pagkatapos, kapag may bagyo pa, may Amihan, kulang na ‘yong kinikita nila, tapos magbabayad pa sila ng mayor’s permit every year,” he said.
For his post-COVID recovery plans, Diaz also wants to open more tourist spots in Puerto Princesa, especially in the rural barangays. He also wants to help farmers in the northern barangays recover after being badly hit by Typhoon “Odette,” but he did not give specific programs.
Diaz also expressed his views about the city’s current power problems, such as frequent blackouts, rising electricity rates, and the proposed privatization of the Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO). He stated that the city should invest in hydroelectric power and solar power, and that PALECO should not be privatized because this would mean that power rates will increase.
“Wag natin i-privatize siguro, mas lalong mahihirapan tayo, mas lalong tataas ang [presyo] ng kuryente,” he added.