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Death of doctor to the poor, servant leader mourned

BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Alme Rhummyla Mangilimutan felt sad yesterday.

“I and his children have started to reconcile,” she said the morning after Enrico Elumba, former mayor of La Castellana town, died of cardiac arrest while on the way to a private hospital Monday night, 13 June 2022.

Mangilimutan is now chief executive of La Castellana, a first class town in central Negros that started to be noticed under the leadership of Elumba who became mayor of La Castellana in the 1990s when it was mostly a town of dusty roads infested with rebels.

“He supported me in the last elections and he has become a significant part of what the town has become,” Mangilimutan added in paying tribute to Elumba who was known as a doctor who offers services for free before he entered politics.

“He transformed La Castellana overnight,” former Negros Occidental Governor Rafael Coscolluela told DNX about Elumba who became his running mate in 2010 when both ran but lost as independents.

Coscolluela is widely credited as having convinced Elumba to become a public servant in the 1990s when they first met.

“It was during my general medical check up when I first knew him and he talked to me about the problem then about the local water district,” Coscolluela recalled.

When Elumba won, Coscolluela said La Castellana started to win awards for governance, among them for the Clean and Green Program and the Galing Pook.

The Clean and Green program is a local version in line with the World Clean Up Day that was first observed in 1993 during the administration of then President Ramos.

The Galing Pook, loosely translated as “excellent place,” is a private initiative that recognizes local governments that are examples of good governance and innovation. It was also launched in 1993.

When the province won the Clean and Green Award, Coscolluela said he gave part of the cash prize to La Castellana.

Elumba used the money to set up a resettlement area and initiate livelihood programs.

“He is an example of a servant leader,” Coscolluela described Elumba.

Perhaps, however, Elumba was more known as a humanitarian worker who served the poor as a physician, one who does not expect to be paid for his services.

Even Coscolluela can attest to that as he recalled how a driver paid only P300 to Elumba for a surgical procedure that normally costs P100,000.

This connection with the common folk was seen by Coscolluela when they campaigned in 2010.

“He had that common touch with the people not only in the town but in almost all parts of the Fifth District,” he said.

The Fifth District is a political subdivision under which La Castellana belongs along with Himamaylan City and four other towns.

There, too, are stories of how Elumba’s private clinic in La Castellana would look like a public market sometimes when patients would give him native chickens, fruits or vegetables to show their gratitude.

Enrico Elumba, doctor to the poor, public servant, died last Monday.

He was 68.

To Coscolluela, “we lost a good man and his death is a big loss not only to La Castellana but to the entire province.”

Julius D. Mariveles
Julius D. Mariveles
An amateur cook who has a mean version of humba, the author has recently tried to make mole negra, the Mexican sauce he learned by watching shows of master chef Rick Bayless. A journalist since 19, he has worked in the newsrooms of radio, local papers, and Manila-based news organizations. A stroke survivor, he now serves as executive editor of DNX.
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