SINCE Josefina “Josie” de la Cruz became governor of Bulacan in 1998, the once moribund province has been thriving. Many of its programs in health and social services have been recognized by various bodies, and its streamlined bureaucracy has become the envy of other local government units. And even if it has one of the biggest populations (2.23 million) among the Philippine provinces, Bulacan boasts of high literacy and employment rates, and is among the provinces that rank high in the human development index.

Streamer of Gov. Josie de la Cruz with brother Jonjon MendozaMuch of these have been credited to de la Cruz, who is now acknowledged to be among the best of the country’s local chief executives. But her reformist image has been under siege in the last few years, with not a few people saying she has gone the way of traditional politicians, or trapos.

Curiously, many of the issues raised against her somehow involve her family. Cases that have led to graft charges being filed against her before the Office of the Ombudsman, for instance, involve relatives who landed lucrative contracts with the
province. Many eyebrows were raised as well when the de la Cruz made it clear she wants none other than her brother, ex-officio Provincial Board Member Joselito “Jonjon” Mendoza, to succeed her after her third and last term as governor ends in May.

Observers say de la Cruz is trying to perpetuate her family in power, just like many trapos have done and continue to do. She says she just wants to make sure what she has started will be seen through to the end. She also says that she has already given Bulacan 27 years of her life, and that “there is life after being governor.” If her brother wins in May and does well, says de la Cruz, then she will retire from politics.

But that’s still a big “if.” Like most politicians, she says she will keep her options open.

Read this latest feature in i Report‘s series on Faces of Change and Changeless Places at

3 Responses to Reforms, relatives, and Bulacan’s governor



April 22nd, 2007 at 7:17 am

I am very sadenned by this article written about Gov. Josie Dela Cruz since I believe that this article has many inaccuracies in its allegations. Gov. Josie is one of the most admired local government leaders in the country and her record speaks for itself. Its very sad that this article seems to demean and belittle the achievements that she has done in Bulacan. Again, the “crab mentality” of Filipinos is seen here,when one is doing such a great job, we try to find fault in him or her. Why not look at other governors and local officials who have actually done nothing in their respective areas and continue to enrich themselves with the nation’s coffers. When Obet Pagdanganan left the Capitol, he left a budget deficit, loads of debts and a bloated bureaucracy for Gov. Josie to contend with and now, he wants to come back as governor?!? If I were from Bulacan, I would think several times before electing Obet back into the capitol. I hope PCIJ would do better to confirm facts first before firing away at Gov. Josie, we have to actually encourage good people like her rather than putting them down and attacking them. Finally, if Gov. Josie would want to perpetuate her family in power, she should have asked one of her two daughters who have studied in very good schools (Ateneo de Manila and University of Asia and the Pacific) to have ran as Sanggunian ng Kabataan (SK) Chairpersons in Bulacan but she did not and even tried her very best not to involve her children in politics. So I really think that this article does not at all reflect the whole truth about Gov. Josie, she is a very hard working and dedicated public servant whose efforts in education, health and employment have really made much headway in the lives of the people of Bulacan.

I have worked closely with Gov. Josie in my capacity as the Founder and former Executive Director of Pathways to Higher Education at the Ateneo de Manila University and as one of the founding board members of Synergeia Foundation. Synergeia Foundation is a coalition of different organizations and individuals committed towards basic education reform in our country. Our board members include notable and highly respected individuals such as Ateneo de Manila President Fr. Ben Nebres, S.J., SGV Founder Washington Sycip, former Finance Usec. Dr. Milwida Guevara and Museo Pambata Foundation President and CEO Nina Yuson. Gov. Josie and her education programs remain as one of the most admired Synergeia Foundation programs in the country today and is now being replicated in many areas all over the Philippines. Even after reading this article, I still believe that Gov. Josie is one of the most effective, efficient and ethical local government leaders in our country today. We need more upright leaders like Gov. Josie if we want our country to progress.

Harvey S. Keh

Harvey S. Keh, 27, is Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo de Manila University’s School of Government and a Fellow at the Asian Institute of Management’s Mirant Center for Bridging Societal Divides. He is also the Executive Director of AHON Foundation, an organization that helps promote literacy by building public elementary school libraries. Harvey was chosen as one of the 20 Young Leaders of Asia by the Asia Society, an organization based in New York that aims to strengthen relationships and deepen understanding among the peoples of Asia and the United States of America.



April 22nd, 2007 at 2:54 pm

Quote “Observers say de la Cruz is trying to perpetuate her family in power, just like many trapos have done and continue to do. She says she just wants to make sure what she has started will be seen through to the end. She also says that she has already given Bulacan 27 years of her life, and that “there is life after being governor.” If her brother wins in May and does well, says de la Cruz, then she will retire from politics.” Unquote..

There are no arguments, according to the post above how good an executive Gov. Josie de la Cruz is, but the point here, is the perpetuating of dynasty which in Philippines politics is considered not conducive to the country’s good governance as the overall experience had shown. Granting for the sake of arguments , that there are no negative issues against Governor de la Cruz, but her helping, while in power, lunch her own brother political career, how would we to know that the same will continue her legacy? Had we seen any proof to the contrary? In a country where politics becomes the lucrative source of livelihood for most, instead of rendering services in contrast to most progressive countries (in Canada and other countries, most will leave politics and work in private businesses if they want to make a good living) can’t we question the motives behind her perpetuating the dynasty?



May 3rd, 2007 at 4:04 pm

I have always heard much about the administration in the Provincial Government of Bulacan. And I was overwhelmed when I finally got the chance to visit, observe, and ask questions about their management during our benchmarking tour in Bulacan. Our mission then was to get important points in the implementation of their re-organization of the provincial government. The re-organization of the Capitol was during the first few years of Gob. Josie de la Cruz . It took a lot of courage, support , prayers and strategizing stamina to make this happen. For so many people who have been affected by the re-organization (some were laid-off, some got into a very strict performance reviews,etc.), it was a difficult phase of their lives. Nevertheless, the strength of their Human Resource Department was behind the facilitation of the smooth transition by providing a pool of retirees and other options where a person can choose from.

In our visit, we realized that with the programs that the governor is supporting, she is really a people-person. She wants to invest on the very rare resource – the resource of manpower. This is especially important so that the morale of the government employees are boosted and that they are always motivated to work and to render service to the public impeccably.
We stayed there for 3 days but in those days, we learned a lot about Gov. de la Cruz’s thrusts and her good governance. How can one afford to malign that record? How can one be not in awe with what she is fighting for? But everybody is entitled to his/her opinion – that’s the freedom often abused, but in my personal opinion (and i share the same with my colleagues), she is at the right track.And programs in Bulacan Provincial Government are very much justifiable to replicate. I take a bow! Well done, Madame!!

Comment Form