Random Thoughts

Wrong move, wrong time

By Leonardo Micua

SOMETHING unexpected happened at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan session on March 15. Vice Governor Mark Lambino stepped down his chair, as presiding officer, to propose a resolution that was met with cold shoulders from members of the ruling majority in that chamber.

Lambino’s proposed resolution that was not previously calendared: Urging President Rodrigo Duterte to run for Vice President in the coming 2022 national elections!

Second District Board Member Von Mark Mendoza seconded it. He obviously hoped to get support from Fifth District Board Member Louis Sison, Third District BM Veci Ventanilla and the all-too silent BM Donabel Fontelera. Lambino had to clarify that he proposed the resolution “not as a politician but as a Filipino who cares for his country” since he knows Mr. Duterte to be well qualified to be the next VP.

But sadly, the good VG misjudged the sentiment of the majority in that chamber even if Pangasinan SP is dominated by members of the ruling PDP-Laban, the party that launched and supported the then Davao City Mayor Duterte in the 2017 elections.

Lambino is with the Nacionalista Party while Mendoza, Sison and Verntanilla and Fontelera are with the Nationalist People’s Coalition.

PDP chairman in Pangasinan is Gov. Amado Espino  III while the party president is former Governor and Congressman Amado Espino Jr. Both Espinos, of course, were surprised by the sudden flanking move of a non-party mate urging President. Duterte to run for VP.

As the Espino allies reign supreme in the SP, they didn’t give VG Lambino what he wanted. They refused his call to cross party lines. But to avoid what could be an awkward confrontation with their presiding officer, they sought the deferment of the measure to allow them time “to study the matter further.”

Even Board Member Noel Bince, the most senior SP member, opined that the resolution is premature and ill-timed, as no less than President Duterte himself believes it is not yet the  time for politics while the country is still battling the pandemic.

Evidently, even Lambino’s clarification that he was not politicking didn’t move them.

Lambino initially heroically parried all arguments for the deferment of the measure but he stopped after Third District Board Member Angel Baniqued Jr. moved for the division of the house. He knew a vote would have easily defeated the minority position.

Fortunately, after a brief recess that was called, VG Lambino was prevailed upon to agree to the deferment of action on his resolution. For his humility, he earned praises from his colleagues.

All’s well that ends well.

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The memorandum circular of  the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board that gave the go-signal for the resumption of operations of inter-regional buses from Pangasinan to Northern Luzon Express Terminal (NLET) in Bocaue, Bulacan may not be implemented soon enough.

Reason: There is serious apprehension over the sudden upsurge of COVID-19 cases in the National Capital Region and five surrounding provinces that led to the creation of NCR Plus bubble under the General Community Quarantine.

While LTFRB kept its promise to reopen bus trips from Pangasinan to NLET and vice versa before the Holy Week, the bus operators are now reluctant to field their buses for the routes assigned to them. They realize they have the responsibility to protect their drivers, conductors, dispatchers, inspectors, other employees as well as passengers from COVID-19 infection.

They are opting to delay the implementation of the inter-regional bus operations until COVID-19 cases see a downtrend despite the fact that their losses continue to mount. Their buses have been grounded for over 12 months, even after spending for their continued maintenance. Then some of their new buses were funded by bank loans that need to be amortized monthly.

With no revenues, some of their employees had to be laid off or given the option for a long “no-pay” vacation leave.

It’s understandable that the operators are not in a hurry to get back on the road all because they do not want to risk their workers’ and passengers’ health with COVID-19 infection. Especially not after the confirmation that more transmittable COVID-19 variants that already managed to enter the country.

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May this Holy Week give us moments of reflection and discernment, for us to stay close always with Jesus Christ, who was crucified, died and was buried and on third day He rose again to save the living and the dead.

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