Lito Atienza

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Lito Atienza
Litoatienza.jpg
Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources
In office
July 18, 2007 – December 28, 2009
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Preceded by Angelo Reyes
Succeeded by Horacio Ramos
Member of the Philippine House of Representatives from Buhay Party-List
Incumbent
Assumed office
June 30, 2013
16th Mayor of Manila
In office
March 27, 1998 – June 30, 2007
Preceded by Alfredo Lim
Succeeded by Alfredo Lim
Vice Mayor of Manila
In office
June 30, 1992 – March 27, 1998
Preceded by Ernesto V.P. Maceda, Jr.
Succeeded by Ernesto A. Nieva
Mambabatas Pambansa (Assemblyman) from Manila
In office
June 30, 1984 – March 25, 1986
Serving with Eva Estrada-Kalaw, Carlos Fernando, Mel Lopez, Gonzalo Puyat II, and Arturo Tolentino
Personal details
Born (1941-08-10) August 10, 1941 (age 73)
San Andres, Manila
Political party Buhay[1]
(2012-present)
Other political
affiliations
People's Reform Party
Liberal Party
(1998–2007)
Lakas-Kampi-CMD
(2007–2009)
PMP
(2010-2012)
Spouse(s) Ma. Evelina Ilagan-Atienza
Children Kim Atienza
Arnold Atienza
Residence San Andres, Manila
Religion Roman Catholic

José Livioko Atienza, Jr. (born August 10, 1941), commonly known by his nickname Lito Atienza, is the former city mayor of Manila and former secretary of the Department of Environment and Resources. He stepped down as mayor of Manila on June 30, 2007, after serving a three-year three-term limit for local government executives set by the Philippine Constitution of 1987. He currently hosts GMA Network's Maynila since 1999.

Early life and career[edit]

Atienza was born in the San Andrés Bukid district of Manila, four months before the outbreak of World War II. Atienza’s father, Jose J. Atienza, Sr., was a distinguished public servant to three Philippine presidents. An uncle, Herminigildo Atienza, was a World War II guerrilla leader and after the war was appointed Military Mayor of Manila by Gen. Douglas McArthur himself and one of the founders of the Liberal Party in 1946. Another uncle, Rigoberto Atienza, a World War II veteran, a victim of the Bataan Death March and former Philippine Army commanding general, became Chief of Staff of the Philippine Armed Forces in the 1960s during the term of President Diosdado Macapagal. A third uncle, Arturo, became a renowned lawyer. The four brothers were all members of the Hunters resistance against the Japanese occupation during World War II.

He took up his primary and secondary education from Ateneo de Manila University and completed a Bachelor's Degree in Architecture from the University of Santo Tomas. His interest and degree in architecture proved useful in rehabilitating and renewing the City of Manila, which had fallen to decay over years of unmanaged growth in population and the lack of an urban planning & community development. He is married to Evalina Ilagan with their children including TV host Kim Atienza and athlete-turned newscaster Ali Atienza.[citation needed]

Political career[edit]

Atienza started his political career in 1968 when he organized the Democratic Youth Movement. He was one of those who survived the Plaza Miranda bombing in 1971. After the 1971 elections, Atienza was given a job by then Manila Mayor Ramon Bagatsing as his chief information officer at the City Hall. He worked closely under the stewardship of Mayor Bagatsing for almost ten years.

During Martial Law, Atienza was arrested twice for exposing human rights abuses under the dictatorship regime of President Ferdinand E. Marcos at that time. He remained with the opposition even if he was on constant threat of incarceration for opposing Marcos. Atienza was first elected as Member of Parliament in the then At-large Congressional District of Manila (then encompassing the districts of Paco, Pandacan, San Andres Bukid, Sta. Ana, Santa Mesa districts) under the Batasang Pambansa in 1984 and served until Marcos was peacefully ousted during the People Power Revolution of 1986.

Under the administration of President Corazon Aquino, Atienza was appointed General Manager of the National Housing Authority in 1988 and he promoted low-cost housing for teachers and policemen.

Together with a former Manila police general, Alfredo S. Lim running for mayor, Atienza ran as vice-mayor in Manila. The two defeated the incumbent slate of then Mayor Gemiliano Lopez, Jr. The tandem won a second term in 1995 and in 1998, when Lim ran for President of the Philippines, Atienza was elected Mayor and took his oath of office on June 24, 1998, coinciding with the 427th founding anniversary of the City of Manila. Atienza was again re-elected in 2001 and finally in 2004.

The Supreme Court ruled on April 17, 2007, that Drilon was the real President of the LP and not Atienza and has approved the Daza-Drilon Amendments to the LP's Charter. It also ruled that all Certificates of Nomination signed by Atienza are worthless unless they moved to another political party like Batangas Governor Armando Sanchez and Manny Pacquiao who moved to KAMPI and Michael Defensor who moved to Lakas-CMD in February 2007. Voting 9-5, the court said the amended Salonga Constitution extended Drilon’s term to November 2007. On July 16, 2007, the Supreme Court dismissed with finality a motion for consideration filed by former Manila mayor Lito Atienza (en banc resolution dated July 5, 2007). COMELEC earlier ruled that Drilon's term as LP president has already expired and called for the holding of elections to end the leadership vacuum in the country’s oldest political party. The ruling came after the poll body invalidated the so-called "rump elections" of LP leaders in March 2006.[2]

Environment Secretary[edit]

Atienza, a staunch supporter of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was named Environment Secretary on July 18, 2007, replacing Angelo Reyes, who was moved to the Department of Energy, after incumbent Raphael Lotilla resigned. Atienza's appointment came as a shock to environment groups, who had dubbed him as the "butcher of Arroceros." As Manila mayor, Atienza in 2003 enraged environmentalists when he ordered the closure of the Arroceros Park to give way to the building of an education office and a teacher's dormitory, sparking a lawsuit. The Kalikasan People's Network said that Atienza had no moral authority to be at the helm of the DENR because he had "neither had sterling qualifications nor a clean track record of protecting the environment as former Manila Mayor."[3]

New LP President[edit]

On November 26, 2007, at Club Filipino, Greenhills, San Juan, LP National Executive Council officials resolved to appoint Sen. Manuel Roxas II as president of the Liberal Party (Philippines). Corazon Aquino and Jovito Salonga, inter alia, signed the resolution. Roxas is to unite the two LP factions, and set the stage for his presidential campaign in the 2010 election.[4] Lito Atienza, however, forthwith questioned Roxas' appointment, attacking the composition of Liberal Party’s National Executive Council (NECO) and alleged that the Supreme Court of the Philippines' June 5 resolution ordered the LP leadership's status quo maintenance. Atienza stated: “I have no invitation. They kicked me out of the meeting; How can you (Roxas) unite the party when you take the wrong step?[5]

Leadership style[edit]

Atienza’s leadership can be described into three aspects; (1) social and community development – where he focused on improving the welfare of senior citizens and of children, especially for abandoned children, (2) improving living conditions by improving government services and facilities, and (3) simplifying the bureaucracy in dealing with the city government of Manila.

Social development[edit]

In almost forty years of Atienza’s political career, he has established social development projects such as the "Mahal Ko si Lolo, Mahal Ko si Lola" (I Love My Grandfather, I Love My Grandmother) foundation in 1976, a model for today’s Office of Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA). In 1984, he also founded the "Kababaihan ng Maynila," (The Women of Manila) a women’s livelihood organization. In 1992 while serving as Vice-Mayor, he established the "Home for the Angels," a child care center for abandoned and abused infants.

Community development[edit]

In the areas of urban renewal for the City of Manila, Atienza implemented the "Buhayin ang Maynila" (Revive Manila) program, renovating most of Manila’s decaying public facilities such as lighting and improving the sidewalk by the Manila Bay along Roxas Boulevard and the area is now filled with al fresco restaurants and coffee shops. Public places such as the Plaza Miranda, the Andres Bonifacio monument, Rajah Sulayman, the Binondo areas, the creation of a Linear-Park in Pandacan, renovating Carriedo and the R. Hidalgo streets in Santa Cruz, upgrading services of the city’s public libraries, schools and hospitals including the Ospital ng Maynila and the building a permanent campus for the Universidad de Manila are among the achievements under Atienza’s administration.

Advocacies and issues[edit]

Atienza is a devout Roman Catholic and under his administration, he pursued programs that were “Pro-Life” and opposed any forms of campaign or programs that promoted contraception or abortion, or sex education programs. All of the City' health centers do not promote "family planning" programs involving contraception. He and his wife founded the Home for the Angels.[6]

Atienza’s urban renewal programs also faced certain controversies when he decided to build a new campus for the Universidad de Manila, (formerly called City College of Manila) on the historical Mehan Gardens. Environmentalists and historians were opposed to the project stating that Mehan Gardens should remain as an open space, one of the few remaining open spaces in the City of Manila and for historical reasons, with the gardens an untapped archaeological resource that dates back to the time of the Spanish colonial era.

Historians also questioned Atienza’s respect for historical architecture when the mayor ordered the demolition of the Manila Jai Alai Building along Taft Avenue to give way to the envisioned Hall of Justice to house the city’s regional trial courts. The building, built during the American colonial period was one of the last remaining art-deco style buildings that survived World War II.

The mayor battled the country’s three major oil companies, the partly state-owned and Saudi Aramco managed Petron, Dutch-owned Pilipinas Shell and Caltex-Chevron. Atienza and the city council decreed that the presence of oil distribution depots in the heavily populated district of Pandacan poised as a security and safety danger and issued an eviction notice to the oil companies. The concern was raised after the terror attacks that started on September 11, 2001 that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York. Atienza and the council decreed that the Pandacan district was to be converted from an industrial zone to a residential-commercial zone. A moratorium was set and the oil companies have agreed to gradually scale down their operations.

Since the early-1960s, Atienza aligned himself with the Liberal Party and up to the present, he has been a staunch party supporter. During the political upheavals calling for the resignation of President Gloria Arroyo in 2005, Atienza established himself and those who supported Arroyo as the “true” Liberal Party and expelled party members who are opposed to Arroyo. After the review made by the Supreme Court of the Philippines, the faction of Senator Franklin Drilon was considered the legitimate Liberal Party. Recently, the Drilon faction expelled all Atienza faction Liberal Party members from the party.

During the second week of December 2006, Atienza, in his show of commitment to "Pro-Life," terminated the Commander of the Manila Police District (MPD) detachment in Quiapo district for failing to rid the area of herbalists who are supposedly selling concoctions that induce abortion.

On February 2007, Atienza formally and officially announced that his second son, the Presidential Adviser on Youth Affairs and Manila's Chair of the Inner-City Development Committee, Arnold Atienza or more popularly called Ali would run for Mayor of the city on May 14, 2007. Ali lost the mayoralty race to Sen. Alfredo Lim.[7]

Lito Atienza had been severely criticized by cultural activists for his heavy-handed decision to demolish the famed Jai-Alai Building along Taft Avenue, which was designed by the Hollywood architect, Welton Beckett. One of the finest edifices of art deco "streamline-moderne" in the world was destroyed unheeded by the mayor.

Barely days after Atienza stepped down from office, his successor, Mayor Alfredo Lim reversed several of the former's civil works projects such as the removal of the promenade along Rizal Avenue and the closure of the cafe and bars along the Roxas Boulevard Baywalk. In a separate development, the former Vice-Mayor Danilo Lacuna accused Atienza of selling out the property allocated for the Jose Abad Santos High School in the San Nicholas district.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Alfredo Lim
Mayor of the City of Manila
1998-2007
Succeeded by
Alfredo Lim
Preceded by
Angelo T. Reyes
Environment and Natural Resources Secretary
2007-2009
Succeeded by
Eleazar Quinto