Some gall, temerity and audacity

By Ermin Garcia Jr.



TO say that I was flabbergasted on seeing the images and claims in the video presentation “Korupsyon 101” by Dagupan Vice Mayor Brian Lim would be a big understatement.

I was finally curious what Mr. Lim and Councilor Red Erfe-Mejia had to say about corruption, so I decided to watch the presentation and listen to the remarks of Mr. Erfe-Mejia aired on TV during the public hearing two weeks ago, to see what new things I could learn from the duo.

Offhand, I must say I was impressed with their research in what constitutes corruption, citing specific provisions where applicable. In fact, I was struck that they unwittingly took pains in citing in even greater detail describing what they actually did during the term of Mayor Benjie S. Lim, not what they are alleging of others.

My auto-reaction to their claims and hypocrisy was one of deep resentment.

They had the gall to insult Dagupeños for believing that their kabaleyans have such short memory, forgetting their dark past on how they foraged the depths of corruption for as long as they could under the direction of Mayor BSL.

The two were ultra presumptuous in taking the moral high ground, accusing everyone but themselves of corruption! Frankly, I never thought I’d meet their kind in my time. Not even Mayor BSL had the temerity to present himself as an immaculate clean politico.  What he opted to do was logical – to simply trivialize accusations and allegations of corruption but never did he attempt to picture himself as the city’s knight in shining armor. Honestly, I admired him for that, grudgingly. He may be corrupt but a hypocrite he was not!

In sharp contrast, BSL’s son Brian and my distant relative, Red, have become the epitome of shameless hypocrisy in this day and age. They are out to hide and disguise their corrupt activities in recent past by pointing fingers at everyone at the drop of a hat.  They have become a dangerous, scheming set.

Messrs. Lim and Erfe-Mejia, could have earned the credibility they wanted for themselves as they took the moral high ground if only they first tried to make amends by acknowledging their past sins to the people of Dagupan City, particularly their participation in the bargain sale of Mc Adore Hotel – the original site for the city’s new city hall.

Then, I was aghast on listening to Mr. Erfe-Mejia chide his colleagues that they should not support the draft ordinance “even if they are offered P1-M or even P5-M!” Wow! And boom! That statement brought me back to year 2012 when wild talks of unexpected ‘fixing’ over the sale of MC Adore spread like wildfire. Reports had it that each consenting councilor (Judas 9) received at least P1.5-M to approve the sale of MC Adore, and they did so without batting an eyelash! Being on the take was obviously the norm in those times.

As if that was not enough, the administrators of D’ Dagupan Dream went to town with their atrocious fake news. With one click, they made it appear that the support for the opposition to the transfer enjoyed 9000 ‘likes’ when 30 minutes earlier, the FB page reflected only 700 plus. I made a quick check and voila – less than 10% identified themselves as Dagupan residents.  The rest were from other provinces in as far as Visayas and Mindanao who couldn’t possibly care what councilors in Dagupan are arguing about! Well, the administrators prudently removed the bloated ‘likes’ but after I called them out in FB or their irresponsible post, manipulating numbers!

Then they had the audacity to attribute some of their self-serving statements to Inquire.net to make it appear that legitimate media acknowledge their anti-corruption stance. What fakery!

At any rate, it’s till gratifying to learn  that the issue provided the opportunity for the other surviving Judas 9 members to redeem themselves in the eyes of the people by staking their name in the integrity of the plan to transfer the city hall.

So frankly, ‘Korupsyon 101’ was especially crafted for Messrs. Lim, Erfe-Mejia and their ilk! That, I know for a fact.

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LOSING THE WAR ON DRUGS?  The war in Marawi City is becoming worrisome to those who want the war on drugs in Pangasinan to succeed.

With the nation’s focus on the war in that city in Mindanao and its potential to spill over in other cities, there are already indications that the drug pushers who have disappeared from the police’s and PDEA’s radar have already been able to work their way back to the communities discreetly.

The talks in the street today have it that the old cheap price of shabu in the streets is back. It could only mean that the supply is back to its usual volume and the financiers are raring back to bet on their once profitable venture again.

Then consider PDEA’s record. It admitted that so far only 226 barangays out of 1,269 drug-cleared barangays in Pangasinan have been validated to be drug-free! One can only wonder what’s happening to the rest of 1,043 barangays of late.

While PDEA is on top of the war, PNP Provincial Director Ronald Lee must do more to assure Pangasinenses that the number of operations and efforts contra droga in the towns and cities has neither decreased nor diminished since.

In fact, we note that reports coming out of police stations in the province indicate that there are fewer drug personalities being arrested in spite of the additions to list of top drug personalities in each town/city. 

It is simply not possible to believe that drug personalities in the province  have actually all disappeared.

Let’s hear the provincial PNP improve on its scorecard in the weeks ahead!

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PREPARING FOR TOURISM BOOM. There is a report out of Dubai noting the construction of more than 10,000 hotel rooms in the Philippines.

If the tourism planners in the province know their stuff, it means the projection for increased number of arrivals in the country is evident. In plain terms, the hotel chains are preparing for the arrival of estimated 10 million foreign tourists by 2020!

The province should plan and prepare for this expected boom in tourist arrivals in the next 5 years. By this I mean, it is no longer enough simply to keep introducing fun activities or colorful events. Serious planning for development of tourism infrastructure must be done today.

Accommodations and access to destinations are vital to tourism and these take years to develop.

Guv Pogi would be well-advised to call for a tourism summit soon that will require the participation of experts in planning tourist destinations, major suppliers of tour programs and transport services, representatives of hotel chains with whom local officials and private investors can engage in productive discussions on tourism development.

From the government’s end, NEDA’s presence will be beneficial.

The worst position that the provincial, town and city governments is having to wait and plan only when the foreign tourists have started to arrive.

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