Finally, it’s the people’s city hall again

By July 18, 2022Random Thoughts

By Leonardo Micua


AGAIN, the people of Dagupan are trooping to the Dagupan City hall in droves, something they had not done for the past three years under the past city administration. And because all cannot be accommodated in the city hall’s second floor for fear it might collapse due to its weakened state, they are made to wait below the staircase but are seated comfortably.

Now that the Dagupan City hall is finally given back to its owners—the people—that seat of government is again bubbling with life.  In sharp contrast, it was a place that many avoided like a plague under the Lim administration.

For example, when Mrs. Marietta Barrientos and her group wanted to see then Mayor Brian Lim to complain about the harassment and rough treatment by the market marshals, only one of mayor’s orderlies talked to them along a narrow alley and were never allowed to walk closer to the city hall.

By stopping Mrs. Barrientos and her group from entering the city hall, the underlings have forgotten that it’s the people that  own it, not them. Imagine how the group felt when they were shooed away with their complaints unheeded.

With the door of the city hall again finally widely open, everyone, irrespective of political color or alliance, is welcomed, especially if they want help from Mayor Belen Fernandez and her administration.

But the people’s restored faith and happiness, finally able to freely enter their city hall againafter a long while, may be short-lived because of incessant flooding in the area caused by regular occurrence of high tide and whenever it rains hard. Even Mayor Fernandez was forced to wade in floodwater when high tide was at its highest at 0.7 meter on Wednesday as she was leaving city hall. The floodwater inside first floor was already three-inches high.

She was aghast on learning that the three-storey city hall being constructed  in front of the old city hall implemented by Brian Lim is going to be elevated by two meters. That will force the elevation, too, of the whole city hall compound, which surely will cost  billions of pesos.

And what would happen to the first floor of the old city hall? It has to be elevated too, otherwise it will become a swimming pool and a veritable breeding ground for mosquitoes forever. So, malaking problema yan!

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The proposed Pangasinan East-West Expressway envisioned by Governor Ramon Guico III is a mega-project that will cost billions of pesos and years to build. It will not be a “pitchi-pitchi” project as they called it decades ago before his administration.

But it is not an impossible dream. It is a possible dream because all elected and high-ranking officials from Pangasinan with President Bongbong Marcos administration are behind him in making this dream a reality.  

No less than billionaire and philanthropist Cezar T. Quiambao, now back as a private citizen and a businessman after being mayor for three consecutive terms, is actively helping  Gov. Mon-Mon push this venture in an bid to make Pangasinan more progressive and ripe for investments from the outside. 

The PEWEx will really be a pacesetter in development in Pangasinan because it will link the agricultural east which is mineral-rich too, to the commercial and industrial hubs in the center of the province and to the scenic mountains and sea in the west.  

Let’s see how they can make this big ticket project funded. I am sure they will enlist and mobilize the private sector to help bankroll the project since provincial funds alone will not suffice.  Or, they can hand it over to the national government to do it, like how it was done with the Daang Kalikasan and Daang Katutubo, through the initiative of then Second District Congressman Pol Bataoil. 

The Daang Kalikasan, which took the national government years to build, is a good model for PEWEx project. 

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Incidentally, through the initiative of then Congressman Pol, there is a new highway being built from Binmaley to Bugallon adopted by the Duterte administration under its Build Build Build program. It runs across wide fishpond lands and will skirt the heavy traffic build-up in Binmaley and Lingayen. From Binmaley, it extends to the east and could cross Dagupan City once a long bridge across Calmay river is built.

I don’t know if Gov. Guico and company included this still unfinished road stretch in their proposed PEWEx project since the road being built could also lead to Bolinao, via Alaminos City and then to Zambales. We’ll see!

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