Presidentiables and Vice Presidentiables


By Ermin Garcia Jr.


MAKE no mistake about the determination of both Davao Mayor Rody Duterte and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano to wage a full war vs. drug syndicates. Their joint mission: “Matapang na Solusyon, Mabilis na Aksyon” says it all about what they know about local governments need, what Pangasinan needs!

Both know whence they speak. Mr. Duterte’s track record as Davao’s tough-talking mayor who transformed the “Wild, Wild West of Mindanao” into a peaceful progressive city. Sen. Cayetano who once served as councilor and vice mayor of Taguig (and now even more familiar with problems of local governments as the husband of the mayor of Taguig), helped transform Taguig City from a hotbed for illegal drugs to a progressive urban city.

Understanding fully the nuances and problems of local governments, they, know how local governments can be helped using national resources and authority. In fact, they are also both in agreement that regional or countryside development going into federalism is the way to a viable inclusive growth.

So when they say, they can win the war vs. illegal drug syndicates in six months, you can believe they will do it. I surely would like to see it happen so that thousands of families in Pangasinan will be saved from the clutches of drug lords.

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OUR CHOICES FOR PRESIDENT. The only other candidate seeking presidential post with solid experience in local government besides Mr. Duterte is VP Jojo Binay. The problem with him is he still cannot account for the billions lost by Makati City and documents presented to the Senate investigation by his former vice mayor (and bagman) point squarely to him and members of his family as the “beneficiaries” of the city’s losses.

Former DILG Sec. Mar Roxas’ experience in public service was limited to being a congressman, senator and as cabinet secretary in various capacities – all at the national level.  

Sen. Grace Poe was chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board before she became a senator in 2013. If she had watched all of FPJ’s movies that saw him thrashing all the villains in small towns and cities, she might have learned a thing or two about community problems, including how to cock a .45 cal. with one hand and shoot rapidly without missing a target.

Sen. Miriam Santiago was a judge and Bureau of Immigrations commissioner before she became a senator. The closest she got to fighting baddies in communities was “to eat bullets for breakfast” during her anti-corruption campaign but has since mellowed with her cute “hugots” for lovers.

So next time you get a chance to listen to the candidates’ spiels, make an effort to discern if they understand how we live, what we have to cope with living in the provinces, and what our simple aspirations are.  

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VP-WATCH. Besides Mr. Cayetano, the only other candidate for the VP post who has had direct experience in local government affairs is Sen. Bongbong Marcos. He served as a vice-governor, governor, congressman of Ilocos Norte before he became a senator. However, like in the case of VP Binay, the Marcos family has not come clean about charges of plunder and ill-gotten wealth that make all the candidates look like paupers, and the hundreds of human rights cases against his parents still pending in our courts and in the USA. He maintains he has nothing to apologize for.

The closest that Rep. Leni Robredo got to understand local governments affairs was to be familiar with some of what her late husband, former Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo, did for the city (and as Interior Secretary whose efforts were often stymied by PNoy and his Daang Matuwid until his ill-fated flight that cost his life). Isn’t it ironic that she now banners the colors of Daang Matuwid today?

Sen. Chiz Escudero was a congressman representing Sorsogon before he became a senator. (His constituents in Sorsogon tell us they continue to wonder where all his PDAF went because his province remains one of the poorest in the country today).

Senators Antonio Trillanes and Gringo Honasan were both only in active military service, and subsequently jailed for leading coup plots against the government before they became senators.

So, wonder no more if most of the candidates President and Vice President can only mouth motherhood statements with empty rhetoric through TV ads, dishing out basically similar sound bites and vision. They obviously cannot relate to real problems of towns and cities, like those that confront us daily in Pangasinan.

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SHE’S THE BOSS? Here we go again! Leave it to City Agriculturist to endlessly put City Mayor Belen Fernandez in a bind.

After Mayor Belen agreed to Ms. Molina’s recommendation that the illegal fish pen owners be given until December 31 to dismantle their structures, Ms. Molina did not direct the demolition and dismantling of the pens after Dec. 31. Reason: The Implementing Rules and Regulations of the ordinance has not been issued. She conveniently left out the fact that it is she who drafts the rules.

Then, after Mayor Belen issued an executive order directing the immediate demolition of all illegal fish pens in compliance not only with her informal understanding with the owners of the fish pens and oversized fish cages but because the city ordinance banning them is already in place, Ms. Molina pulls out another trump card from her sleeves. This time around, she says she will need 75 days to complete the demolition of all fish pens! Don’t’ bother reading between the lines –she’s saying she wants to give the unscrupulous businessmen another 75 days to operate their illegal business activities in the city, and the mayor has little or no say about it.

Ms. Molina either thinks she can fool Dagupeños all the time and lead everyone by the nose on her say so or she wants the people to know that it is she who calls the shots at the city hall, not Mayor Belen. Tsk-tsk.

Why she even remains a city agriculturist to this day baffles me, indeed.

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IT’S ABOUT THE SPIRIT OF THE LAW. Ms. Molina conveniently attempts to interpret the executive order for us that it’s all about the dismantling of the fish pens and nothing else. She could have fooled the city again but the heart of the matter, particularly the mayor’s executive order, is the strict enforcement of the ordinance.

It is not the physical structure of the fish pens that is central to the issue but implementing the provisions of the ordinance, specifically to ban and stop all operations of fish pens, whether the owners demolish their pens or not!

In fact, all that Ms. Molina and City Legal Officer George Mejia should busy themselves with at this point, and for the next 7 days is to file formal complaints against the fish pen owners who continue to operate today even if the ordinance apparently has no penalty provisions for installing illegal structures in the city’s rivers.

The structures can remain for the next 365 days if the city agriculturist finds it a waste of time to demolish these but one more day of allowing fish pen operators to continue stocking and polluting the rivers is just one day too many.

Ms. Molina is already accountable and responsible for refusing to enforce the law. It’s definitely a case for the Ombudsman that can lead to her dismissal and forfeiture of benefits due her. The Dagupeños who love the city enough and feel abused by the arrogance of Ms. Molina should file that case today.

But more importantly, Mayor Belen must be made aware of the legal repercussions for tolerating Ms. Molina. She ought to be warned that if she does not act quickly to reprimand her City Agriculturist – for refusing to enforce the ordinance – her political detractors can jump at the chance to sue her before the Ombudsman as well.

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LOSING FRIENDS. After losing Edwin Aguirre, a family friend, to his Creator, then came the news about the loss of another friend, Butch Gutierrez! May their family and friends be consoled knowing that the two were loyal and passionate to their professional causes to a fault, and will be missed by those with whom they worked with in the past.

(For your comments and reactions, please email to: punch.sunday@gmail.com)

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