I personally know former Mayor and now independent senatorial candidate Edward S. Hagedorn. I was prison superintendent of Iwahig penal colony sometime in 1995 when I met him as newly elected mayor of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan. He is (not was) a good local government executive. He transformed a dusty and filthy community into a disciplined and dirt conscious city. He also eradicated jueteng, the bane and curse of principled law enforcement in his turf, making Puerto Princesa the only city in the whole country without the gambling nuisance.
Hagedorn admitted to his youthful follies enjoying gangster and Mafiosi role in the strip of an island, which Palawan is, maintaining jueteng and other forms of gambling until one day, he decided to go straight. That started his trek in the political scene. From there on, he kicked the gambling vice away, cornered gambling lords and embraced the principle of an honest local government leadership. There was no turning back for him. He would single mindedly convert Puerto Princesa City as the gateway of tourism. In the process, he would be ranked as one of the most effective, most efficient and most competent mayor in the region if not in the greater country side.
He wanted to prove that he can transform Puerto Princesa into a wholesome city. But he had one problem. Almost half of Puerto Princesa City is the Iwahig Penal Colony. While Iwahig brought civilization in the outback of Palawan, including the fledging Puerto Princesa, it is a bleak spot, a humiliating space and a terrifying area which might bring down business and tourism. Then Mayor Hagedorn wanted Iwahig proclaimed in favor of his administration for his social program. It was at that time that the good Mayor found a youthful protagonist championing the restoration of Iwahig back into its luster as a world recognized open institution prison. I was then at the helm of Iwahig penal colony when then Mayor Hagedorn wished for a confrontasi on the issue of Iwahig. We both held on our reign and influence. Nobody from our respective side blinked at that time. At that instance, he transformed himself from a decent executive into a hoodlum; from a scholarly bureaucrat, I became a thug. Both of us became gangsters for a cause. He wanted to invade Iwahig, make it a wholesome park for Puerto Princesa City; I protected Iwahig from his intrusion if only to transform it into a model correctional center of the country.
But I would give it to the Mayor for his audacity in fulfilling his vision for a grand Puerto Princesa minus the fearsome Iwahig. He went hammer and tong working for my ejection from the area until finally I was driven out of my command as head of Iwahig. At that time, which is during my incumbency, tourists were already lured to a handsome Iwahig. Puerto Princesa was getting the short end of the tourism attraction and I was, all the more, placed at the cross hair of his hostility. Political connections were comprehensively tapped. As a result, I was recalled back to the National Penitentiary and the Mayor had all the time in the world to promote his vision.
Despite the negative wedge that drove our profession and dreams apart, my respect is still with the man. He never wavered in his principle. He led Puerto Princesa as if his entire reputation and integrity lie on its bearing. He worked hard and consistently, something missing from all politicians in the entire stretch of the universe. He never slowed down at all! Regardless of our near violent past, my admiration for the man has not been diminished. If ever I enjoy a multiplication of votes, I would add him in my short list of senatoriables. The man simply is a hard worker and that is what is needed in the Senate.