By Leonardo Micua
TWO resolutions were passed during a brief session via zoom of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Dagupan on June 24 (Thursday).
The first was a resolution condoling with the bereaved family of our friend Rafael Baraan (Raffy and Paeng to his legions of friends) who was the City administrator of Dagupan during the administration of then Mayor Benjamin Lim, and became the provincial administrator when then Second District Rep. Amado Espino Jr. was elected governor of Pangasinan.
The second was a resolution condoling with the family of former President Benigno Aquino III who died early Thursday morning on arrival at the Capitol Medical Center in Quezon City. His death stunned the whole nation, especially those dear to him, including his friends and political allies who we know are still legions.
Councilor Michael Fernandez, the majority floor leader, has yet to craft the wordings of the resolution, for the approval of the body, condoling with the bereaved family of the late President PNoy. It was understandable because when the SP assembled for that session, one or two councilors had just noticed the breaking news on TV announcing Aquino’s demise.
Soon after and with no other business agenda lined up, Councilor Fernandez moved to adjourn the session. This was promptly acknowledged by Vice Mayor and presiding officer Bryan Kua and banged the gable. Maybe, all the councilors were in a hurry and just eager to join Vice Mayor BK who was celebrating his birthday that day.
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About Raffy, his demise due to a lingering illness, is being mourned not only in the provincial capitol where he served as a provincial administrator under the administration of then Governor “Ama” Espino Jr. and at the Dagupan City hall where he also served as city administrator of then Mayor Lim, father of the present Mayor Brian. Before these, he was doing some projects during the administration of then Governor Rafael Colet.
It can be said without fear of contradiction that Raffy helped conceptualized what Pangasinan and Dagupan are enjoying today as administrator of both local government units in different times.
The last government position that Raffy held, that I know of, was as municipal administrator of Sual where Liseldo “Dong” Calugay is the mayor. But his stint in Sual was only short-lived. When I went to Sual to conduct a research for a study before the pandemic, somebody was already sitting on Raffy’s seat.
It was at the provincial capitol where Raffy served the longest. I met Raffy when I was a young journalist for the PNA covering the provincial capitol and when he was the provincial development coordinator of then Governor Aguedo F. Agbayani.
But when Agbayani was deposed as a result of the EDSA People Power revolution, Raffy had to go with him.
Many may not know that Raffy and Luz Muego, the provincial population officer, were the last ranking provincial officials to leave the padlocked Urduja House, the symbol of provincial power in Pangasinan. This was when the seats of power of the provincial government were about to be seized by a milling crowd supportive of the designated OIC Governor that gathered at the capitol grounds.
At that time, all roads leading to the capitol and Urduja house were barricaded with 10-wheeler trucks as if there was a war that was going to happen there.
I know this because I covered the events that unfolded as a result of the change of administration from Marcos to Cory. Pangasinan was among the LGUs where a change of leadership had to take place.
As a journalist, I had to get both sides of the story. After talking to the people who wanted to wrest control of the capitol at all costs, I had to take the side of Raffy and Luz who were literally making their last stand inside the Urduja House. Both, however, eventually capitulated after a peaceful negotiation with the emissaries of then OIC-Governor Demetrio Demetria.
While in private life, Raffy led a movement that then opposed the privatization of the Lingayen Plaza and he sought my help so the plan will be exposed and be known to all.
That’s all water under the bridge now and Raffy is gone. Rest in peace in heaven, Raffy. You’ve done your part to make this province of ours one of the best places to live in, work and raise a family.
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