Loot sharing at the city hall

By November 22, 2021Punchline

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


DAGUPAN City Mayor Brian Lim may perhaps believe that he has already effectively blunted efforts to make him, his Market Supervisor Aguedo Sta. Maria and his staff, and department heads accountable for the illegal activities at the city’s public markets by continuing to bar any department head to show up at the city council to explain themselves for the 9th time. Wrong.

On the contrary, by preventing his department heads to appear, Mr. Lim only succeeded in confirming the existence of the illegal activities in his office as exposed by the lowly fish vendors. He can no longer deny that he knows about the illegal daily collections, the collection of the P25K protection racket perpetrated by market personnel led by Sta. Maria.

The only questions that Dagupeños want answered through the NBI probe are:

  • How much of the illegal collections are being kept by the market supervisor’s office?
  • How much is being delivered to Mr. Lim monthly?
  • How much are shared with the city treasurer and city auditor for helping cover-up the illegal collections for the past two years?

Hopefully, the NBI can ferret the truth about the operations of the crime syndicate operating at the city hall soon. Meanwhile, the city council can already frame the resolution against the mayor, the market supervisor, head of the market marshal, the city treasurer and city auditor for refusing to appear and respond at the hearings on the illegal collections from fish vendors at the public markets.

In turn, the market vendors only need to submit copies of the resolutions and invitations sent to them by the city council, copies of the minutes of the city council meetings on their plight and a copy of the complaint they filed with the NBI, to the Ombudsman.  These should be enough to indict the city officials who chose to protect the criminal activities in the city.

Meanwhile, kudos to the councilors, led by Councilor Tess Coquia, market committee chairman, who value their constituents’ trust by standing up to city hall and be counted in the fight against corruption and exploitation of the poor.

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PRRD’S STRATEGY?  Perhaps, Mr. Lim also thinks the same strategy that President Duterte adopted in the case of the Pharmally investigation by the Sente Blue Ribbon, will work for him as well. He is awfully misguided.

He must know that PRRD’s approval ratings have been sinking since his attempt to cover up for the Pharmally executives started. I have seen another recent  independent survey that will not likely be published because of political concerns. It shows PRRD’s ratings plummeted much further. Apparently, his rants under the glare of media lights only served to aggravate his situation. 

So, Mr. Lim should not be surprised if he is already suffering the same fate today. No community likes to see a mayor protecting illegal activities of his barkada. So like the presidential rants, Market Supervisor Sta. Maria pushed themselves deeper into the quagmire by labeling the serious charges against him and Mr. Lim over radio interviews as politically motivated, yet he refuses to appear before the councilors to be confronted with the charges. 

Unfortunately for Mr. Lim, he might have already lost his opportunity to redeem himself. And his collaborators at the city hall just have to contend with having to lose their retirement benefits once the Ombudsman decides to uphold what is right.

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THREE IS A CROWD. Nothing really surprised voters about the final of substitution of candidates in Dagupan City last November 15.

The same characters in 2019 reappeared except for two unknowns that substituted for the NP slate led by Mayor Brain Lim. No real impact there.

But what made voters, including some of Lim’s supporters, cringe was his move to have his sister, Irene, seek a seat in the city council where her mother, Celia, is seeking reelection.

Many were moved to ask – Wasn’t it bad enough that Mr. Lim already exposed his own mother to official embarrassment when he rejected her pleas to stop the cover-up of the illegal collections and direct department heads to appear for their statements?

If Councilor Celia lost moral suasion among her peers owing to her failed persuasion as mother, what could a sibling, like Irene, possibly do to impress Dagupeños that she can be an effective public servant on matters where her own mother failed?

So Dagupeños could do the mayor’s mother and sister a big favor by not voting for them lest they lose all their self-respect given what their son-brother is capable of.  It seems making family members look like fools doesn’t bother him at any time.

Besides, what can be a more flagrant serious conflict of interests than to field both a sibling and a mother in the same political arena. It is even possible that Councilor Celia and Councilor-wannabe Irene will find themselves at odds over brother-mayor’s unvetted decisions. This is presuming he and his family will win in 2022.

As they say, but in another context, “Three is a crowd.”

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THE NEW NORMAL . The decision of President Duterte to lift the mandatory wearing of face shields except inside health institutions signals the beginning of a “new normal”. It came as a relief but it also served as motivation to wear it because it is optional. 

Unlike the face shield, the wearing of a face mask will not likely be lifted as mandatory anytime soon. In fact, it will be part of our way of life for as long as reports of new cases are reported and more deaths are reported.

Then there’s the vax card . More than a proof of compliance with the government policy, it will serve the purpose of reassuring all and sundry that persons around you are not likely carriers of the coronavirus. So it’d be good to have it handy.

The policy of some business establishments today requiring to present a vax card while wearing a face mask will likely snowball because it’s more convenient than to have patrons register their personal data for contact tracing before entering.

But don’t knock off the face shield. It will not likely disappear from our midst. It may even become fashionable items when designed to fully cover the face in lieu of a face mask in social occasions. Look at the colorful crash helmets of today’s motorcycle riders, they who merely used goggles or dark shades to protect their eyes from wind and the sun.

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MORE GOOD MEN. The good news about the 2022 elections is we are seeing more good men who’ve been out of government service and set to offer themselves to serve their communities as public servants .

There is lawyer Oscar Orbos, a former cabinet official, who can certainly do more for his constituents in the First District. A very articulate man whose integrity was never tainted and a former TV public affairs host makes him no stranger to local concerns.

There is former PNP chief Art Lomibao who can ably perform as mayor of Mangaldan and transform the town to a major urban community. His stint was impeccable. His exposure to a chain of command will be useful for effective management of human and financial resources.

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