Questions about “Ermin Erfe Garcia”

By May 22, 2023Punchline

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


YESTERDAY, May 20, our family observed the 57th death anniversary of my father who was killed by a Lingayen politician in 1966.

After 5 decades, it’s understandable if people today know little or even remember who “Ermin Erfe Garcia” was. A social encounter in one social business event in Makati five years ago told me as much. I recall the questions that this new acquaintance whom I only met at the social event asked, the same questions still asked of me to this day by those who are aware of a street in Quezon City named after “Ermin Erfe Garcia”, my namesake.

“Was your father a policeman? Was he from Quezon City? What happened?”  he asked.

I could only shake my head in frustration and disappointment on realizing how easily people forget. But then I surmised the guy was only around 30 years old, he wasn’t born in 1960s so how could he could know any better?

How could he know that “Ermin Erfe Garcia” was the first post-war journalist shot and killed by a politician in the country? That his death shook the country’s media and government sectors?  That he was shot because he refused to stop the publication of the story demanded by the Lingayen councilor who was operating the payroll-padding racket at the municipio.

How could he know that it was the Quezon City Council that renamed a street as “Ermin Erfe Garcia” to honor a 45-year-old editor’s martyrdom who was true to his journalism practice? That he was from Dagupan City, not Quezon City?

Naturally, I had not expected the guy to be impressed once I told him that “Ermin Erfe Garcia” was a journalist. He just nodded his head, and stopped asking more questions about my namesake. Why would he? More than a hundred journalists have been killed in this country without much ado, really, what could be special about him?

I didn’t get the chance to tell him more why his death meant a lot to others then. I could have told him: “This ‘Ermin Erfe Garcia’ was honored because he dared to say “NO” to the face of a man holding a gun! He was the man who stuck to his mission as a journalist.”

But as I sensed the chat was only part of an idle talk and curiosity, him having met a namesake of a street in the city.  He just moved on to another topic. Oh well….

But there is this question of many to this day that I have no answer: “Why hasn’t the Dagupan City Council honored him like the Quezon City Council did?

I wouldn’t be surprised if some are heard to say: “Because he has a son our politicians love to hate!”

I miss my father whose courage, values and principles I can never hope to match.

*          *          *          *

A LEGACY FOR MAYOR BONAFE. It looks like Dagupan City is going to see more illegal fish pens operating in its tributaries in months ahead. Reason?

Illegal fish pen owners in Mangaldan town can’t get any deal or special treatment from Mayor Bonafe Parayno who ordered the demolition of the discovered illegal fish pens in two weeks. Worse, the good mayor flatly refused their “appeal” to allow them to harvest their stock inside their pens citing like how Mayor Belen Fernandez does it with illegal fish pen operators in Dagupan. 

The uncompromising stand of Mayor Bonafe not only deserves praise but deserves emulation by all mayors. Her hardline position guarantees residents a decade of a clean and unpolluted river. She is likely aware that a relationship that starts with a “mutually beneficial” compromise with the illegal operators eventually leaves the local government at the mercy of those who offered the compromise.

Such is the experience in Dagupan City.

Former Mayor Brian Lim turned a blind eye when businessmen flouted the city ordinance vs illegal pen operations. Easily, there were more than 2,000 illegal fish pen that sprouted in and around the city. No one was arrested. No one was fined. Everyone operated like no ordinance was being violated. All they knew was they were being protected by the occupants at the city hall.

Then candidate mayoralty candidate Belen Fernandez took the illegal fish pens issue to the 2022 political campaign. She publicly threatened the illegal operators with outright demolition while assuring the voters that the law will be strictly enforced under her administration. After all, she succeeded in clearing the city’s tributaries during her first term.

She won the election handily but woe to the voters! She didn’t (couldn’t?) stop the illegal fish pen operators as she pledged. It turned out some of the operators were not only “friendly” to her advisers, but a bigger protector was in place, as some illegal operators themselves confirmed.

The few owners of illegal pens whose structures were set for demolition still got away with the best deal – no charges of violations and were given enough leeway to be able to harvest their stocks for months before these were demolished at the city government’s expense. (As some concerned residents in the city’s island barangays told this corner, many operators targeted for demolition were actually never demolished).

I hope Mayor Bona has the political will to sustain her decision today for Mangaldan’s future, that illegal fish pen operators will never have the chance to pollute the town’s river.  This is one legacy she can cherish in her lifetime.

*          *          *          *

PRESERVE DIGNITY OF PUBLIC OFFICES. You really have to hand it to the 7 epaLiFes. They are undaunted by talks of an avenging electorate in Dagupan for passing an annual budget for the city government that terminated jobs of thousands of city hall employees, deprived deserving college students of much needed scholarship funds, etc.

And their arrogance hasn’t peaked at all. They continue to block a draft ordinance that will allow appointment of new qualified workers to be employed at the city hall. They even spit at the thought of rewarding deserving city hall employees with promotions!

And here’s more! Councilors Red Erfe Mejia, Celia Lim, Irene Lim, Librada Reyna, Alvin Coquia, Alfie Fernandez and Malou Fernandez want their presiding officer to humiliate himself by appearing before their committee of seven, like someone accountable and responsible to them, like they did shamelessly to Mayor Belen Fernandez.

I hope Vice Mayor Bryan Kua will not set the precedence, too, by surrendering his office’s authority to the 7 epaLiFes.  I say, let them go to town citing him as the reason for not passing the needed ordinance that will allow the city to hire and promote employees, because that won’t sell.  The fact is, it is they who vote, not the presiding officer.

The 7 epaLiFes already did their worst. They can’t do anything worse to the city.  But the dignity of the office of the Vice Mayor must be preserved against obstructionists and enemies of the city.

Share your Comments or Reactions


Powered by Facebook Comments