Today, let us give tribute to a man with unparalleled service track record -- former Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim, who celebrates his 87th birthday.
I consider myself as one of the few lucky ones to have him as a friend, mentor and father figure of looong standing. Unlike others who are in politics just like him, Lim, whom I fondly call ‘Yorme’ -- others now call him that, too -- is a far cry from them when it comes to character and dedication to each government post he ever held.
Beginning his high-profile career as a policeman from the then Western Police District, Lim virtually rose from the ranks to become the chief of police. After 38 years in police service, he retired and became director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), having been handpicked by then President Corazon Aquino at a time when the country was thirsty for leaders who could meet the high expectations of good and honest governance being pushed by the administration.
True to form, Lim led the NBI to greatness with one exemplary feat after another. Up until now, no offense to all the others who sat at the helm after Lim, no one has made the NBI perform at par or soar the way it did during Lim’s stewardship.
At a time when the country’s capital city of Manila was at its lowest in terms of services, Lim entered the political scene. He ran and won as mayor of Manila and rid the city of illegal gambling --jueteng was banned in Manila until the last time he held office in 2013 -- mounds of garbage and above all, illegal drugs.
He served as Manila mayor from 1992 to 1998 and again from 2007 to 2013. During the gap, he was secretary of the interior and local government before becoming a senator from 2004 to 2007.
His accomplishments as mayor of Manila, which to date has not been replicated even by more progressive cities nationwide, will forever be etched in the hearts of true-blue Manileños and the history of the city and rightly so, even the country.
Firstly, Lim is credited with putting up the first and only totally-free college education, when he effected the building of the City College of Manila (later renamed Universidad de Manila). The already existing Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) was not left behind as Lim also made sure that the way it was run, catering to poor but deserving students, was maintained.
The CCM was conceptualized to accommodate average students since PLM catered to students who graduate from high school with honors. There were occasions when people, sometimes a whole family, would approach Lim in a certain affair or while having lunch, just to thank him, saying how their son or daughter have already become successful either here or abroad because of the said free education.
I am also certain that Lim will never be forgotten for having established 485 day-care centers for poor kids and building an additional 97 public school buildings to enable the accommodation of more students who want to study but cannot afford the high costs of education.
Highlighting his track record is the construction of five of the six public hospitals in Manila. The Ospital ng Maynila was already there when he first assumed office and all he did for that hospital was to have it refurbished and modernized in keeping with the times and to better serve the residents of the fifth district.
Apart from that, he built the Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Medical Center (first district), Ospital ng Tondo (second district), Justice Jose Abad Santos Mother and Child Hospital (JJASMCH) in the third district, Ospital ng Sampaloc (fourth district) and the Sta. Ana Hospital (sixth district). It is worth noting that the JJASMCH was upgraded to a general hospital by no less than the Department of Health, in view of the quality services it was rendering under the stewardship of Lim’s handpicked director, the ever-efficient Dr. Ted Martin.
During his term, all medical services, from consultation up to major operations and even take-home medicines, were given for free.
Complementing this were the 59 barangay health centers where free check-up, treatment and medicines for simpler cases like colds, fever, cough and the like may be availed of and 12 lying-in clinics where pregnant women may give birth for free. Cremation and interment for the poor were also free.
I could go on and on but we have limited space. Happy birthday to the man who has literally brought to the doorsteps of the residents the genuine ‘womb to tomb’ services that has endeared him to the hearts of the poor and made him a truly, unforgettable leader worthy of emulation.
If we only had 20 Fred Lims in government service at any given time, this country would be in a much better place.
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