23 Feb Up Close and Personal with Atty. James K. Judith II: “The Young and the Restless”
(Note: All About Cagayan de Oro and its parent company, LogicBase Interactive, decided to do special interviews with all three mayoral candidates and attempted to contact the candidates themselves or persons connected with them. Since only Congressman Rodriguez responded to our request for an interview, we decided to grant an interview to any local candidate we could invite)
(The views and opinions stated by any candidate interviewed by our media team are not endorsed by All About Cagayan de Oro or its parent company, LogicBase Interactive)
Anyone following both the national and local election candidates will definitely notice that there are now a larger number of younger politicians running for different positions compared to past elections. Just look at both the presidential and vice-presidential candidates and you’ll see half the number as young as the late 30’s and early 40’s. In Cagayan de Oro, while the older generations still dominate the election lineups, one young candidate running for the office of City Councilor somehow stands out because of his youth. While everyone knows him as “James” or “attorney Judith,” some of his followers have given him the affectionate moniker, “John Lloyd” because of his likeness to the actor.
Where is the Judith Clan from?
While there are very familiar old clan family names from Cagayan de Oro, the clan name “Judith” may not be one of them. This is because the original Judith clan (originally spelled ‘Judit’) all originally hail from Magallanes, Sorsogon. The first Judit – James’ grandfather – Antonio Oca Judit, who first ventured to Mindanao to become the first harbor pilot for the Cagayan de Oro port area, decided to put an “H” into his last name so that all the Judits from Sorsogon could identify him as the first of his clan to go to Mindanao. To this day, Antonio Judith’s name is etched in the history of the port area. Already married when he came to Cagayan de Oro, Antonio first settled his family at 12th and 21st Streets in Nazareth. Before coming to CDO, Antonio was assigned in various ports across the country, being a harbor pilot. Thus, James’ father, James Santacruz Judith, was born in Binondo, but finished his schooling in Cebu. When Antonio moved to this city, his whole family came with him, and made a vow to finally settle down in CDO because he and his family were growing tired of constantly moving.
James I was in his early 40’s when he met his bride-to-be, the former Leonarda Linda Kiunisala, from the Kiunisala clan of Camiguin, still a college student studying in Cagayan de Oro. After courting Leonarda, and after her graduation, they both tied the knot. From their union came James II and his younger brother, Jefferson (it might be only us, but we did detect a pattern of the “J” letter). Jefferson is presently a top executive in a popular car dealership. James I used to work for the former government NACIDA, precursor to the present DTI, while Leonarda was connected before with the COWD. Antonio and James I have since passed away, while Leonarda is already retired.
James already knew his path
Like all fathers at that time, James I wanted his son James II to either become a doctor or a priest. However, as James II grew up, he started to glimpse on the speeches of then senator, and later president, Ferdinand Marcos. James became enamored with the speaking style of Ferdinand and became somewhat of a follower by reading up on the exploits of Marcos the politician. One day, he asked his father what course you needed to take to become a politician. Naturally, his father replied “none,” but most politicians usually were lawyers before entering into politics. From that day onwards James decided that he would become a lawyer in order to enter into politics.
James admits that although Ferdinand Marcos was his idol and read many books about him, he simply idolized “Marcos the person” and his early lawyer and politician days rather than the period of Marcos the president. Another politician he greatly idolized was the lawyer and former mayor Reuben Canoy because of his firm stand on federalism and other major issues affecting Mindanao. James also loves reading up on the biographies of famous lawyers such as John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln.
In college, James took up and graduated from International Studies at Xavier University. After graduation, he first worked with the CIC (Cagayan de Oro-Iligan Corridor) before taking up his law, also at Xavier. While taking up law he also taught part-time. After graduating and passing the bar, he immediately went into private practice. The original office that he opened along Arch. Hayes Street, beside the former city cemetery at the side of Xavier University is still his office and calls this his “ancestral office.”
James is a single parent and also devotes much of his time to his 8-year old daughter. On the airwaves he has his own radio program, “Ang Bala-od” (The Law), on DXCC every Tuesday and Friday at 12:30 p.m. This is probably why he also carries the candidate title “Kagawad sa Kahanginan.”
The hard political ladder
James was first invited to run as city councilor in 2007 when former Mayor Ambing Magtajas invited him into his lineup ticket of councilors. In 2010, Klarex Uy, running for mayor at that time, invited James into the councilor ticket lineup. Unfortunately, in both elections, James lost. When Oscar Moreno invited James to run as councilor again, James declined because he felt it was not his time yet to run for a third time. Finally, recently, when Cong. Rufus Rodriguez came calling for a councilor lineup, James heeded the call because he saw something different in Rufus.
According to James, had he taken the corporate and business ladder of being a lawyer, he would have made a ton of money by now and probably would be owning several businesses. However, because of the call of politics, he remains a general law practitioner devoted to politics and his other advocacies. In fact, when Rufus won as congressman, James was offered a position on the Judiciary system, which he declined because of his devotion to politics. His ultimate dream is to serve as “kagawad dadto sa opisina abay sa suba” (councilor serving in the office beside the river).
The issue on healthcare
James decries the inadequate equipment and crowded conditions at the J.R. Borja Memorial Hospital. Thus, he supports the move of Rufus Rodriguez, should they win the elections, to nationalize the city hospital to improve the hospital’s equipment and services. The freed-up budget from the city hospital can then be diverted to create and maintain two smaller “district hospitals” in Lumbia and Tablon.
On his advocacy on historical sites
Should James win and sit as city councilor, he wants to get the museums in the city in conjunction with the national government to devote time, effort, and money to bring back the numerous historical and cultural artifacts scattered around the National Museum in Manila and even abroad. According to James, these artifacts rightfully belong to the historicity of Northern Mindanao and therefore in CDO’s museums. He also believes that the Huluga Cave historical site should be turned over to the city government for proper historical protection as well as setting up proper war tribute memorials for the Battles of Agusan Hill, Battle of Makahambus, and on the sites of General Douglas MacArthur when he was here in CDO and Bukidnon.
The issue on improving the city’s traffic management
The improvement of the city’s traffic management is actually very simple and starts out with the city’s traffic lights, something that he studied from the traffic management in Singapore. This is called the “15-30-45” interval rule. Traffic lights should be programmed so that the stop and go phases will only take from 15 to 30 seconds. In that way drivers won’t feel impatient waiting for the go signal for a long time because of the “15-30” rule. 45 minute intervals can be programmed on traffic lights at crossroads that handle light road traffic. In terms of police response to traffic accidents, the response time should be only 3 minutes. In this way, roads can be freed up faster after an accident. He also decries past mayors who have disapproved the setting up of parking buildings in Divisoria as “unnecessary.” He believes it’s high time to have parking buildings in the city, given their success in Manila and Cebu.
The issue on the city’s garbage disposal problem
James believes the garbage collection and disposal should not be centralized to one contractor. Garbage disposal, segregation, and collection should be decentralized to all the barangays in the city. Proper budgets will be given to the barangays for this, while giving barangays the chance to raise money by selling recyclable garbage.
On improving the city’s tourism
According to James, the city government needs to focus on all the above as well as improving the city’s peace and order situation and the national police force. When a city is running smoothly and safely, tourism automatically improves, just like in Davao.
James is hoping that in the coming elections Cagayanons can give him a chance to sit on the city council and prove to the people that he can do many things during his term in order to improve the city, his priorities being the abovementioned. He also believes that he has finally latched on to a mayoral candidate like Rufus who plans to make Cagayan de Oro the “flagship city” of Northern Mindanao like Davao was able to do, and he wants to be a big part of this when this happens.