Edward Hagedorn, the green mayor

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Tuesday, 9 April 2013 - Last Updated on April 9, 2013

Edward HagedornPOC Election 2013 Special: Edward Hagedorn

He is a known environmentalist and was called as the greatest mayor of Puerto Princesa City. Now that his term as mayor of the cleanest and greenest city in the country ends, Edward Solon Hagedorn, 66, is eyeing a seat in the Senate.

Because of his experience in running Palawan’s LGU, Hagedorn was encouraged to join national politics. In 1998, he was courted by the opposition to run for Senator but he declined. In 2008, Hagedorn was reportedly preferred by then [[Metro Manila Development Authority]] (MMDA) chairman Bayani Fernando as vice-presidential running mate. But Fernando later withdrew his presidential bid.

The veteran mayor previously hesitated to run, making this his first time make a bid for a national position.

Now that he is finally running as an independent candidate, Hagedorn said he now wants to share his experience in the local governance to the legislature.

In his appearance on ANC’s Harapan 2013, he said, “Tapos na ‘yung term ko as local servant, kaya gusto naman namin maibahagi ang aming experience sa local governance sa national level at ‘yun ang dahilan kung bakit nag-file ako ng candidacy for Senate.”

Hagedorn said he is confident to make it to the Magic 12 even if the latest Pulse Asia pre-election survey showed his ranking between number 20 to 23 with only 9.3 % support from a sample of 1,800 registered voters, 18 years old and above.

He was supposed to run under the [[Liberal Party]] but he was not picked to join Team PNoy. He is a member of the [[Nationalist People’s Coalition]] (NPC) which formed an alliance with LP.



Hagedorn was a businessman running his own restaurant in the stretch of the City’s main thoroughfare before he was elected as mayor of the Puerto Princesa in 1992 when the city was still capital and a component city of the island province of Palawan.

He was convinced to run against a long-serving incumbent with a vision of turning the gloomy image of Puerto Princesa into an environmentally conscious, tourist friendly and economically competent city.

Hagedorn was born in Paranaque, on October 12, 1946 to Alexander Hagedorn and the former Gliceria Solon. He completed his education at St. Andrew’s School – Parañaque, San Sebastian College – Recoletos and an undergraduate from the University of the East-Manila.

His lack of a college degree was the main reason of his hesitation to run for the Senate. But his success in governing Puerto Princesa made him confident to run for this year’s polls.

In 1992, Hagedorn served as an Assemblyman of the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCD), a body created during the term of late President [[Corazon C. Aquino]] which was tasked to oversee the establishment of an autonomous region for Muslims in Mindanao and it included Palawan island.

He also served simultaneously as mayor and as a Representative of the League of Cities of the Philippines for Region IV and member of National Executive Board of [[Boy Scout of the Philippines]] (BSP).

He is married to Maria Elena Marcelo have two children, Eva Christie S. Hagedorn and Elroy John S. Hagedorn.


Long list of achievements

Puerto Princesa Underground RiverHagedorn was Puerto Princesa City’s mayor for 20 years. When he got elected, Hagedorn has slowly turned Puerto Princesa into one of the most famous eco-tourism destinations in the Philippines.

Hagedorn is best recognized as one of the more successful progressive local leaders with his passion and dedication towards the protection of the environment.

“My environment is my home… and just as I do not violate my own home, so must I not violate my environment. Instead, I should only preserve, protect, and restore it to life. My environment nurtures me to life so must I embrace it as my own,” Hagedorn said in an article.

Although the [[Philippine Constitution]] prohibits local candidates from running for a third three year-term, Hagedorn stayed beyond nine years of allowable service in local government through a landmark decision of the [[Supreme Court]] on November 12, 2002. That year, Hagedorn was once again allowed to run as mayor in an election recall led by Puerto Princesa’s barangay leaders against then incumbent mayor, Victorino Dennis Socrates.

In his 20 years of service in local governance, Hagedorn has earned a long list of achievements. Among them is the [[United Nations]] citation in the UN Environment Program Global 500 for “being the first Filipino political leader to make environmental protection the centerpiece of his administration, and for stopping the degradation of the City of Puerto Princesa’s resources.”

Under his leadership, Puerto Princesa became the first recipient of the following:


Grand Award of the First Macli-ing Dulag Environmental Achievement Award given by Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation and the Rotary Club of Makati on 25 April 1994


Gantimpalang Panglingkod Pook or Galing-Pook Award given by the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government,


Award of Excellence for 1994 Cleanest and Greenest Component City in the Philippines given by President Fidel V. Ramos on 14 December 1994


Hall of Fame Award for Cleanest and Greenest Component City in the Philippines (Regional and National level in October and December 1996)

In 2012, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site became the leading New Seven Wonders of the World. The park is also the first world heritage site to be put under the management of a Local Government Unit.

Puerto Princesa also became a Hall of Fame Awardee for being the cleanest and greenest component city in the Philippines. The city has also been “generously given national and international awards and recognition for various innovative programs and projects a proof of seriousness of purpose and magnitude of success.”


Hagedorn on EPIRA


Protector of the environment

Puerto Princesa’s current state also reflect how Hagedorn protected its environment from destruction.

An article written by Tony Reyes for the Manila Times, stated that Hagedorn “banned logging and mining despite tremendous pressure from the national government and from big business and despite the huge potential of these two industries in making the city and the entire Palawan, enormously rich.”

Hagedorn launched Bantay Puerto Princesa Watch Program. This program has two components: Bantay Dagat and Bantay Gubat which prevented the destruction of the city’s terrestrial and marine resources from logging, mining, slash-and-burn farming, blast, trawl and cyanide fishing.

According to Reyes, Bantay Puerto’s key management thrusts are: “Protect, Rehabilitate, Plan – Protect what is there, rehabilitate what has been destroyed, and plan for the intelligent utilization of the city’s terrestrial and marine resources.”

“As a result, the city’s natural resources have been restored and nurtured. His Operation Plan Cleanliness Program has earned Puerto Princesa the distinction of being the country’s cleanest and greenest city, and today it is considered a model city and the country’s tourism capital,” Reyes said in his article.

Operation Plan Cleanliness or Oplan Linis and Bantay Puerto and its components – Bantay Gubat and Bantay Dagat, are among the programs that Hagedorn gave priority. He also institutionalized the Pista Y ang Kagueban (Feast of the Forest,) an annual tree planting activity which draws thousands of residents as well as tourists to the mountains to reforest denuded areas.

Also under Hagedorn’s leadership, Puerto Princesa was declared as a city with the lowest crime rate and the best police station by the Philippine National Police. According to a Newsbreak report, Hagedorn apprehended 2,300 dynamite fishers and reduced slash-and-burn farming from 200 a year to six. With this, Puerto Princesa’s forest cover grew to more than 2,000 has. and preserved more than 7,200 has. of coastal waters.

Also according to the same report, under Hagedorn, Puerto Princesa’s tourists increased from 12,000 to 100,000 a year and capital investment from P52 million to P4.5 billion a year.


Staunch anti-mining advocate

Hagedorn also stood firm against mining in Palawan despite the rich potential of the industry in the province. He vowed that under his administration, mining industry will never be established in what is known as “the city in the forest.”

In an article, Hagedorn said, “Pag pinayagan nating hukayin nang hukayin ang mga mineral resources na makikita dito at ubusin ang mga puno, ano sa tingin ninyo ang kahahantungan ng lugar natin?”

Hagedorn firmly opposed “flagship programs of the government” such as mining and logging. He was even threatened to be sued for economic sabotage by mining companies that were barred from establishing mining businesses in Palawan.

Hagedorn said that out of 20 million has. of forest in the Philippines; 19 million has. have already been cut. He added that 50 percent of high-grade mineral resources have already been mined out. Despite this, he said, the country still did not become rich.

“I am all for progress but there should be a strict code of conduct to be followed so as not to disturb what can’t be created by man. Mining would definitely hurt the Earth irreparably as miners take out the rich minerals, poison clean underground water and kill the tress and greens that help screen toxins on the air that we breathe in,” Hagedorn was quoted saying in the first anniversary of the Communication and News Exchange Forum last November 2012.

Hagedorn also stood firm on his allegations against Palawan’s ex-governor Joel Reyes on the alleged corruption of the Malampaya funds and for the murder of fellow environmentalist and broadcaster Gerry Ortega who was gunned down in Puerto Princesa in January 2011. He also expressed on his Twitter account that whoever the culprit behind the destruction of Tubbataha reef should be held accountable.


Pro-environment platforms

When he announced his candidacy for senator, the environmentalist mayor said that he is running on a pro-environment platform. He said in the Halalan 2013 forum that environment and poverty are correlated.

“Kaya isa sa gusto ko itaguyod kapag ako’y nasa Senado ay magkaroon ng honest to goodness anti-poverty program. Napakayaman natin sa likas yaman ngunit sa latest survey ay 54% ng ating mamamayan ang sinasabing sila ay mahirap,” he said.

Aside from this, his platform also focuses on jobs, investments, national healthcare, decentralization and development of infrastructure and land use, education and youth development, renewable and sustainable energy, and social policies and advocacies. His whole legislative agenda can be read at his website.

His initiatives also include agriculture, comprehensive housing, education, health, infrastructure and livelihood.


Images: Edward Hagedorn, Puerto Princesa Underground River from Flickr.com. Edward Hagedorn on EPIRA photo from Facebook.com. Used under CC license. Some rights reserved.

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