Who is lying? Guv or Cong?

By September 24, 2023Punchline

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


THE AGUILA alliance (Guico-Lambino-Cojuangco) is showing signs of dissolution.

Ok, to the ladies and gentlemen closely following politics at the provincial level – place your bets!

The indications are, it will break. But in politics, division and subtraction are hardly employed. In any given political situation, a win-win solution is always tried first.

So let’s speculate at this time since the principal characters are still mum on the “political differences” among them.

Guv Mon-Mon Guico is an astute politician. VG Mark Lambino is a diehard Guico ally. Cong. Mark Cojuangco is not a pushover.

The key issue today is not whether the seawall project should continue or not, BUT WHO IS LYING? Guv Mon-Mon who denies knowing anything about the project but Cong. Mark has the video that shows the governor with him at the Lingayen beachfront.

Nonetheless, let’s look at possible scenarios as a result of the public hearing at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

One scenario: Guv Mon-Mon and Cong. Mark will try to work out a win-win resolution after their conflicting interests on the Lingayen-Binmaley seawall project were made public by Mr. Guico.  A win-win could only mean, Mr. Guico plays down the “seeming” conflict with a clarification by Cong. Mark. VG Mark will have ‘no comment’.

Second scenario: Both Guv Mon-Mon and Cong Mark will keep their mouths shut for the next 4 weeks and the construction is suspended. They wait for the issue to be sidelined by other major projects involving both gentlemen. VG Mark will have ‘no comment’.

Third scenario: Cong. Mark will go his own way, explaining the “misunderstanding” of the project by all parties but Guv Mon-Mon reserves the time to either “forgive and forget” or to break his silence with other allegations to discredit Cong. Mark. VG Mark will back up Guv Mon-mon.

So, back to who’s lying? Place your bets!

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Ilaban su baley, Mayor Belen! It’s been 11 months since Mayor Belen went on a warpath against the allies of her predecessor Mayor Brian Lim, exposing their widespread shenanigans.

For weeks, she went to town detailing how the scholarship program became a source of graft and corruption, i.e. fake residences, fake students, etc.  and how these impacted on the city’s young. She said charges will be filed against those who conspired to divert public funds away from the scholars.

Then, she called out the contractors who simply disappeared and abandoned their contracted unfinished projects. She exposed the deletion of files at the One-Stop-Shop to cover-up illegal transactions entered into by the Lim administration. There were the overpriced equipment paid in advance but were not delivered by suppliers; and the faulty, inaccurate reports of the city auditor on the transactions she mentioned.  

To her credit, she made it a point to reiterate her plan to sue everyone that benefitted from the illegal transactions obviously to make it known that she would not be a “transactional mayor”.

Weeks passed, she didn’t file a single complaint as pledged. Instead, she found herself being forced to a corner by the 7epaLifes to accept a compromise after refusing to pass her 2023 annual budget. She didn’t but neither did she file a case against them for rejecting the city’s budget.

When she realized her oft-repeated threats of cases failed to prompt the 7 epaLifes to pass her 2023 budget, she turned to the city hall employees to stage protest rallies and sign petitions appealing for the passage of her annual budget. But to her chagrin, they were ignored too, but still no charges filed.

Nothing changed even after she was humiliated and her office put to shame not once but twice, not even after the annual budget version of the 7 epaLifes was considered “inoperative”.  Still no complaint was filed against any of those she said she’d hail to the Ombudsman.

Curiously, when asked twice on separate occasions whether she was set to file the cases in the last 3 months, she said she was consulting with her private lawyers. Note: She made it clear that the City Legal Officer would not have nothing to do with any filing in the future. Duh? Then what does CLO Atty. Aurora Valle do to serve the city’s interests. Is it possible that Mayor Belen is thinking of filing the cases as an ordinary citizen? Now, that’s nonsense.

Today, pedestrians and motorists see the city’s POSO donning a new set of uniforms that has “Ilaban su baley” (Fight for the city) emblazoned on their back. Could they be calling on her to finally start fighting for their city, and start filling the cases?  I think they are.

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TRAFFIC RULE FOR TRICYCLES. Speaking of Dagupan’s POSO, it has the opportunity to take the lead in seeing to the enforcement of the DILG rule that tricycles must always take the shoulder lane when running along four lanes, or at the extreme right of a lane on two-way lanes.

This can be done by enforcing the rule strictly along the Jose de Venecia Highway by posting personnel that will flag down tricycles hogging the center lanes and directing them to continue to the outer lanes. The strict enforcement will cascade in all highways in the province.

I’d like to see Dagupan POSO being given credit for the subsequent high rate of compliance by tricycle drivers in the province.

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TEST FOR 2025 ELECTIONS. The test of enforcing the rule on premature campaigning in the 2025 elections will depend on how this Comelec rule is upheld and enforced by Comelec in this year’s Barangay and Sanggunian Kabataan Elections.

If it succeeds, Comelec can expect a more trusting voting sector that the 2025 elections will be fair and just. If it fails, Comelec will just remain a laughing stock who’s all-bark-and-no-bite in enforcing its rules.

Rampant vote-buying is another activity that completely made Comelec the most powerless agency in the country over the decades.  I hope PNP’s “KONTRA-BIGAY” will make a big dent this time.

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