Opinions
Political Waterloo PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 10 December 2018 12:57

LOOKING IN

BY ROD BALBON

Personally, the best mayor we ever had was the late Mayor Vitaliano D. Agan. He was derisively regarded as the lowly Bisaya who has accomplished numerous projects that redounded to the benefit of our city and its denizens.

He cemented all the city’s streets, he built schools, which many jokingly said was more than the number of students, he constructed the city coliseum which was later named after him, he built the modern J.F. Enriquez Sports Complex in Baliwasan which was destroyed by Mayor Beng when she allowed refugees of the Zamboanga Siege to stay and desecrate the place, he lighted our city streets that made us comfortable driving at night and served as deterrent in the commission of crimes.

But his popularity was put to a test when he decided, during his last term as mayor of the city, to pave the long dusty highway of Licomo-Quiniput. At that time, he was preparing to run for Congress against a neophyte named Celso Lobregat.

He was pilloried for deciding to undertake this project for reasons that this stretch of highway is a national concern and does not fall within the ambit of the City Government to restore and refurbish. As such, the city funds cannot be used to undertake this project.

But the good mayor was adamant and persistent to undertake the project. He says the people in the area has long been neglected and has been suffering from this unrepaired and dilapidated dusty highway. No doubt, his intention was very good but under auditing rules, the same cannot be done.

Moreover, what made the intended project further questionable is the timing of its intended construction. It was to be implemented just months before election and the oppositors of the project claim that the good mayor was insistent to undertake the project as a propaganda coup and a fundraiser for his party’s campaign expenses. The constructor was a Taiwanese constructing company.

This became a big election issue and Celso Lobregat, who was running against Mayor Agan in the 1998 congressional tussle, went hammer and tongs against the good mayor and his failed project, accusing him and his party of undertaking a fundraising for their expenses in the coming election, aside from its being illegal under government auditing rules.

Mayor Agan wasn’t able to extricate himself from this highly questionable issue. The Lobregats use almost the entire media to sustain the attacks against him regarding this issue which was intended to destroy him politically. I could still recall, I was one of those who wrote many columns expressing the COA’s rule that it was illegal since city funds cannot be used for the repair and rehabilitation of national highways. He even accused me then of engaging in “envelopmental” journalism, meaning that all of us mediamen were paid by the Lobregats to attack him. I told him that I only went to the residence of the Lobregats once, me being the campaign coordinator of President Erap Estrada during the 1998 presidential election to coordinate with them on some election undertakings, but I never received a single centavo from them.

Eventually, the people of the city became fully aware of the issue and Mayor Agan was soundly defeated by Celso Lobregat, who was behind him in surveys done a month before election.

This time around, another brewing important issue involving the development and expansion of the city, and the solving of the monstrous traffic problems that have been plaguing the city, which was ignored and left to worsen under the administration of Mayor Beng Salazar.

So many things have been said about this, many of which have become too personal spewed by the “mouth pieces” of the mayor at TV 11. They say that it will just cause monstrous traffic jams. They say it’s rather logical to undertake first the road widening of the MCCL Highway instead of constructing the flyovers. They simply forgot that even before these projects are undertaken, we have been experiencing monstrous traffic jams. People now very well know that the purpose in opposing its construction is simply to stop Celso Lobregat’s project which may become a plus factor in this coming election.

I have talked to many people and inquired them about this issue. Mind you, almost all of them have no good word for the mayor and her bunch of councilors. The people are fed up with the ever-growing traffic problems of the city. They asked, when are we going to solve it? It is extremely stupid and nonsense to stop their construction now that the national government has allocated funds for the purpose, they said. Try to ask the tricycle drivers, the jeepney drivers, the businessmen, especially the Chinese and you will know the pulse of the people. These flyovers will undoubtedly expand the city, open new opportunities and businesses, and employ hundreds of workers. I asked one LTO officer as to how many vehicles are being registered monthly by their office. He revealed that aside from the three thousand motorcycles, 300 to 400 vehicles are registered monthly by their office. Where are we going to put all of these if no road expansion and construction of flyovers are constructed now and in the next three years?

The late Mayor Agan have accomplished many worthy projects for the city but lost the election because of one issue—the Quiniput-Licomo road pavement project, which he tried heaven and hell to justify and defend.

Now, here comes Mayor Beng Salazar who has not accomplished any significant project for the city and finished the construction of new road networks extending the Nuñez Extension Road, the street passing through the City High School Main Complex going to Kasangyangan and some others that could have lessened the traffic problems of the city. If she loves the city, why is she opposing a worthy project for the progress and development of the city?

Well, she claims to be a Climaco but sad to say she is not the daughter of the legendary Cesar Climaco. She is the daughter of ex-Vice Mayor Jolly Climaco. Now almost all of us knew who he was. He even went against his brother, Cesar, and defended the Lobregats, his main political backer and benefactor.

This issue may be Mayor Beng’s Waterloo.

 
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