MANILA – Puerto Princesa City Mayor and senatorial bet Edward Hagedorn confirmed Tuesday that his family owns at least one franchise of Jollibee in the city while leasing out land to its competitor, McDonald’s.
In an interview on ANC’s Headstart, Hagedorn said his brother owns the land being leased by McDonald’s for its branch in Puerto Princesa. He also admitted owning one of the 3 Jollibee franchises in the city.
"We own a Jollibee franchise but it’s hard work naman. My son went to a bank for a loan to get the franchise of Jollibee. Hindi naman po yan galing sa pondo ng city," he said.
Hagedorn denied that he is running a monopoly in Puerto Princesa by refusing to issue permits to owners of various businesses. He said it is the city administrator who approves and signs requests for business permits, and that he has no knowledge of any business being disapproved as long as the application documents are complete.
The mayor admitted purchasing a helicopter with taxpayers’ money for his campaign against illegal loggers in the city. He said the helicopter is no longer being used after the previous leadership failed to maintain the aircraft.
He also admitted that local officials need a strong will to implement the law but not to the point of murder.
He denied any involvement in the deaths of broadcasters Fernando “Dong” Batul and Gerry Ortega despite receiving criticism from both newsmen.
In the Batul case, Hagedorn said he even offered a P1 million reward for the capture of the radio announcer’s killers.
"I must admit that sometimes you have to use strong-arm just to implement the law. Pero never nagkaroon sa amin ng salvagings or killings just because he is a political enemy. Andami namang ginawang investigation diyan. In the Dong Batul case, I was the first one to offer P1 million reward sa makakahuli sa taong involved diyan. Kung ako involved, bakit ako mag o offer ng P1 million para hulihin sarili ko?" he asked.
On the other hand, he said former Palawan governor Joel Reyes and his brother, Mario Reyes, are already in hiding after being linked to Ortega’s murder. He said there is too much evidence linking the Reyeses to the crime.
“Why hide if you are not guilty? The innocent is always brave as a lion,” he said.
Logging in Palawan
He also defended businessman Pepito Alvarez who has been described as an illegal logger after holding the biggest logging concessions in Palawan. He said Alvarez was forced to give up his concessions after a commercial log ban was passed in 1992.
Hagedorn admitted that his own family benefited from logging before he was elected mayor of Puerto Princesa. Born in Parañaque, he said he gave up logging and clamped down on jueteng as an adopted son of the city when he was elected.
“We used to be the loggers before. Sometimes, we do it illegally. Pero lahat naman pwede magbago e. When I was elected into office, being the first elected mayor who is not a native of the place, e parang…kaya nga ang unang kong binitawang salita ‘I am going to protect the resources that rightfully belong to the Palaweños.’ Out of gratitude,” he said.
“Tinigil namin yung logging namin. Tinigil naming yung jueteng. Tinigil natin yung illegal activities dahil nahihiya ako. Inampon lang ako ng Puerto Princesa,” he added.
He said the government allowed mining operations in Rio Tuba, Bataraza near Puerto Princesa but urged strict monitoring of the area. “If there is a violation, [it should be] immediately closed,” he said.
Hagedorn said he is urging Environment Secretary Ramon Paje not to accept any more applications for mining in Palawan since it will be giving false hopes. He said that under the law, any mining application should have the approval of the mayor.
He said that if he is elected senator, he wants the government to finish a comprehensive land use plan to identify which areas are for industry and which ones are for tourism.
He also said his strong track record and experience as a local chief executive are assets in his bid to become senator.
Hagedorn has been mayor of Puerto Princesa since 1992. He ended 3 terms of office in June 2001 but was allowed to run for a fresh term in a special election called by barangay officials in 2002.
He is credited for transforming Puerto Princesa into a major eco-tourism destination in the country. It was also under his leadership that the Palawan Underground River was chosen as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.