War contra epal

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


WAR CONTRA EPAL. The recent ruling of the Ombudsman suspending Asingan Mayor Heidee Chua and Vice Mayor Carlos Lopez Jr . for being ‘epal’ should finally tell all elected officials, from the barangay kapitans, to councilors, mayors, board members, congressmen to the governor, no less, that there is this law that should already be taken seriously.

What Mayor Chua and Vice Lopez did, plastering the ambulance with their names and pictures, was not the least unusual. In fact, it’s a common practice by all elected officials, claiming credit for projects paid for by taxpayers!

With this precedent established by the Ombudsman, it’d be foolhardy for the elected officials not to take stock of what they have done and not order the removal of their pictures and names in public-owned vehicles, project announcements, giveaways, etc.  Would they risk being suspended without much of a recourse?

In the same vein, the political opposition in the towns and barangays would be politically naïve to let this ruling get past them and not get ahead if they don’t file cases against their political enemies whose pictures and names are plastered all over the communities.

With this precedent, erring barangay kapitans, councilors and mayors must know that they can now be suspended for a year all because they love their names and faces too much. So, they must know that the war contra ‘epal’ has began! Tsk-tsk.

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GUV POGI’S VISION. This corner doffs its hat to Guv Pogi for being consistent in his vision – to keep his constituents and government active, healthy and strong through sports and discipline.  

Truthfully, I had doubts initially if he had a vision for the province and whether he had it in him to govern and manage the province’s affairs like his father did.  I had even mistakenly thought that he was constantly organizing sports activities because he knew nothing better.

Well, he proved me wrong and I’m the happier.

I’ve come to realize that he has set his mind on the development of mental and physical faculties and well-being of his constituents. More than preaching, he’d rather make people move and act to produce a positive view towards themselves and the province. The regular tournaments he organized for and among towns and cities have made them develop camaraderie as Pangasinenses, making them aware that Pangasinan is not made up of one town or city but of 44 towns and 4 cities, 6 congressional districts and 1,384 barangays who’ve acquired three native languages – Pangasinan, Ilocano and Tagalog.

Little did I realize that when he speaks of Team Pangasinan, it’s not about a sports team but of a people with a proud heritage.

His directive to finally push for the establishment and operation of the Pangasinan Sports Academy said it all. While the concept of developing better athletes was his father’s idea, he went further with his vision that PSA is a ticket to free college education for aspiring young Pangasinenses!

I sincerely look forward to learning more about our governor.  Could he be also like a Duterte who will do all to protect the young from the clutches of drug syndicates? I pray he is.  I hope he will soon require all barangay kapitans to take mandatory drug tests soon just like what other governors did, and what he voluntarily submitted to himself.

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WORDS VS. CASH. Speaking of sports, the town and city governments in Pangasinan should adopt an ordinance, rewarding homegrown talents (athletes, students, professionals) who reap honors for their communities in regional, national and international competitions with cash and tangible gifts, not simply with resolutions acknowledging their triumphs. Words can be cheap.

Such an ordinance will motivate locals to excel in their chosen fields whether in sports, education or beauty contests.

Why cash? Because one had to spend to gain advancement and skills from outside. They must be given a chance to recover their costs.

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NATURAL FOR MAYOR BELEN. Without a doubt in anybody’s mind in Dagupan City, Mayor Belen Fernandez already earned one legacy for herself –  the only mayor that truly cared for the welfare of the city’s young and old consistently and persistently.

The barangays and education sector are one in attesting to her conscious efforts to protect and promote children’s welfare, particularly those with special needs. 

Making the city a consistent finalist in the search for child-friendly is a no-brainer for her. It’s a natural thing for her to do.  A quick check on the city’s expense budget since 2013, will show that millions have already been spent for children’s welfare, security, and education. 

It’s no surprise, therefore, that she finds inspiration in Eleanor Roosevelt’s thought- “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their (children) dreams.”

In fact, she’d also certainly make the city a finalist too, if not a winner, should a search for ‘Seniors-Friendly City” is launched by the government.

She has set the new standard for governance, no doubt!

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WAR VS LOCAL CORRUPTION.  In just two weeks this month, the Ombudsman issued rulings against six government officials, including Asingan mayor and vice mayor.

The Dapitan City treasurer was found guilty of two counts of Simple Misconduct, two counts of Violation of Reasonable Office Rules and Regulations, and Gross Insubordination.

The Governor of Negros Oriental was ordered dismissed from the service for anomalies in the utilization of the province’s 2013 budget.

Former mayor now Basilan vice-mayor was suspended for grave misconduct for colluding with the BAC on a grossly disadvantageous deal to the city.

The mayor of Mainit, Surigao del Norte was ordered suspended for simple neglect of duty.

So in case corrupt local officials have not noticed, the country has arrived in its war against corruption. Constituents are now aware what constitutes violation of the anti-graft, corruption law.

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IRRELEVANT BY THE DAY. It sure looks like the national opposition, the Liberal Party and left-leaning organizations, are getting more irrelevant with each passing day and issue.

Still largely influenced by the ghosts of Marcos-era martial law and the wide scale human rights abuses of that era, they invoke the same to oppose the declaration of martial law in Mindanao. Strangely, they choose to overlook the impact of the recently lapsed Duterte-martial law in Mindanao over which they never lost any sleep. In fact, the martial law came and went, and they never had the chance to point to large scale violation of human rights or abuses by the military. If my memory serves me right, they even joined the chorus in praising the military for defeating the Maute-ISIS terrorists in Marawi City.

Then we have the National Democratic Front condemning this time a US-Duterte regime for brutality in Mindanao. Hasn’t its leaders been told that Mr. Duterte would not have anything to do with US, it at all possible? Obviously, careful not to offend their communist masters, they cannot refer to Duterte’s administration as ‘China-Russia-Duterte regime’ or they lose everything. 

The opposition is already desperately grasping straws to keep its presence felt in the face of unwavering wide public support for President Duterte. Tsk-tsk.

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