Consistently leading in surveys with only five days remaining before the hotly-anticipated May 9 elections, multi-awarded Cebuana public servant Mary Ann de los Santos inches closer to the finish line with high hopes of clinching victory in her bid to reclaim a coveted seat in the Cebu City Council.
In the most recent Media Users Preference Survey, De los Santos ranked No.2 among the councilorial aspirants in the North District with an overwhelming 53.1 percent of the respondents choosing her.
The favorable outcome of the surveys gave De los Santos an added motivation to triple her effort as she heads into the final stretch of the rigorous and energy-sapping campaign period.
“Wa gihapo’y kompiyansa kay it’s not over until it’s finally over,” De los Santos humbly said. “Unless you are already declared as a winner, it’s the time you can rest your laurels already.”
“So sa pagka karon, trabaho pag-ayo. I even have to triple my effort. I am very focused until the finish line to achieve my victory,” De los Santos continued.
Looking back at her illustrious political career, De los Santos takes pride of her humble beginnings as a public servant that helped shape her what she is now.
“In my 25 years, it is so meaningful to me because I rose from the ranks. I started as a barangay councilor, then I became a barangay captain. I spend my good 19 years as an official of the barangay. People notice Lahug because of the transformation, it is associated with Mary Ann de los Santos.”
Starting as a barangay councilor back in 1997, De los Santos went on to serve as barangay captain of Lahug before catapulting herself into the halls of the Cebu City Council. She was honored as Outstanding Barangay Captain from the local (2000 and 2003) up to the regional level (2003).
“I don’t want to say that I am better than the rest. Everything speaks for my 25 years. In fact, I’m celebrating my Silver anniversary in public service now. And I am very proud to tell everyone that I am one of the very few who started in the basic political unit, which is the barangay,” De los Santos shares with pride.
“I really have the training ground when we speak of good governance, when we speak of passion to serve, and when we speak of will to lead. These are the three things that speak for myself,” she added. “One, I speak for good governance. Two, I have the passion to serve, and three, I have the will to lead. Kana gyung tulo, that is very encompassing of who Mary Ann de los Santos is.”
For exemplifying that brand of leadership and ideals, De los Santos, in 2004, was feted as Most Outstanding Individual during the Cebu City Charter Day celebration and at the same time Outstanding Alumna of the University of San Carlos (USC)-College of Law both in the Field of Public Service.
The following year, her excellence in leadership earned for her the recognition as the National Awardee, besting all the barangays in the entire country. Also in 2005, she was honored with a Plaque of Excellence from the Gerry Roxas Foundation.
As a City councilor for six years, De los Santos has made significant milestones with her trailblazing programs and meaningful laws and ordinances including the free breast screening program for indigent women of the city, the establishment of a Barangay Behavioral Health Unit, the first of its kind in the country, the “half-rice” law to promote responsible rice consumption, the giving financial incentives to topnotchers in board examinations, and the creation of “Elderly Friendly Facility” in all hospitals and health care institutions.
With all that she has accomplished, De los Santos wants to do more and walk the extra mile in the service of the people of Cebu City. That is why she fervently hopes to be given another chance to serve them, vowing to take care of her unfinished business at the City council particularly on health matters.
“I want to continue my advocacy and do more about health considering of what happened during the pandemic. Ang ako gyung tutokan are the two departments – the City Health, which is the preventive aspect, and the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC), the curative aspect. At the onset of pandemic the past two years, there’s a lot of changes that we have to learn and to address. Lahi na, nausab na tanan tungod sa pandemic so we should really focus on health,” De los Santos pointed out.
And as the end of the election race draws near, De los Santos is urging the voters to be discerning enough in choosing the right and deserving leaders who can work for the welfare and best interest of the people especially the poor and downtrodden.
“I just hope we will have a clean and honest elections. I want to hope for the best and that the voters of the North District, they will be choosing who is the best candidate. And considering that this is a national elections, I hope you will make the best and the right choice, something that would change the political landscape,” said De los Santos.
“I wish all of us (in the BOPK) will make it. Akong gi-ampo ug akong gi-awhag ang mga tawo nga tan-awa og kinsa ang sakto para sa posisyon. You have seen how the City of Cebu is being managed and handled for the past three years ug kamo maoy labawng nakahibawo kinsay angayan ibutang sa puwesto. Ang ako lang nga dili unta mo padala sa false promises sa ubang mga kandidato. Look at the track record, look at the performance of every candidate that is appealing or soliciting your votes.”
“As for me, I am espousing a different kind of governance, a government of transparency, the will to lead, and the passion to serve. I hope mao ni ila makita sa mga politicians running in this 2022 elections both in the national and local level. I hope you will not waste this opportunity and excerise your right to vote because it will impact practically not only your lives but also the whole City of Cebu as well as in the national scene,” De los Santos concluded.