Monday, February 13, 2012

The Politics of SM Malls


By MORTZ C. ORTIGOZA

My mole at the Dagupan City hall told me that SM Mall would finally construct its edifice this year in the Bangus City. He said the giant retail store would be bigger than those in Rosales town and in the nearby Baguio City as it would be a regional SM that would cater to the people of four provinces of Region 1.
My mole said SM management has signified to the office of the mayor that it would have its own water system independent from the National Water & Sanitation Association -Dagupan City on its site at Brgy. Tambac.
“Paranggalitang SM sapera.”
He said SM did not give a qualm in paying the lot offered by the last “stalling” owner who sold it for a staggering P40 thousand per square meter. This in contrast with a stalling owner of Dagupena Restaurant whose inflated offer per square meter to Robinson Mall –Calasiaowas not been called by the latter.
The mole said the entry of SM in Dagupan is a double whammy.
“It gives a thousand of jobs to Dagupenos, and would marginalize the “monopolistic” CSI malls owned by the family of vice mayor Belen Fernandez in the City. Whether we like it or not the entry of SM to a city like Dagupan is inevitable. It’s a symbol of progress and modernization,” he stressed.
“How about the members of the City Council (SangguniangPanlungsod) who are mostly allied with Vice Mayor Fernandez? Surely they would would block with tongs and hammer the entry of SM in deference to the vice mayor” I posed.
“They could not prevent SM. They would even abandon the Vice Mayor on this case,” my mole confidently told me.
Susmariosep, what? Abandon the vice mayor? That’s a P2 million curious question for each one of them that I should be asking my mole but he hurriedly left as he has an appointment with somebody.
This is funny. But I remembered former Vice Mayor and incumbent councilor – the amiable- RomySim of Rosales who gave me a month ago a white paper attacking the members of the town council because each of them allegedly received a half-a-million pesos sum allegedly from the management of SM for allowing it to run SM Rosales Transport Terminal through a one sided contract of 50 years.
The paper exposed that most of the members of the Sangguninang Bayan (town council) conspired with SM Prime Holdings, Inc. to extend the lease or “Operational Rights” of the latter to run the terminal for the next 50 years.
“An onerous contract”, according to the paper that has been poorly written in Filipino that got the goat of Rosales Mayor RicRevita who vetoed the resolution voted by the town’s dads.
But he did not succeed as the councilors thwarted his veto by the required by law’s two-third votes from the councilors who are critical to his administration.
Revita decried that Rosales, even it would become a city, would still be tied-up with the 50 years provision instead of the 20 years that was left to the town’s contract with Hausland who ran the central terminal before.
Romy denied this accusation and instead trained his gun to a politician who most of the members of the August Chamber suspected to be behind the circulation of the poison letters that made a rip- off out of them.
***
Oh by the way, many media men miss SM PR woman – the amiable Gerloudel Rosario.
They said the present PR lass named Rose need a lot of catching-up with her.
They said Rose would not bother to answer their text messages.
In case some of the disappointed guys start to write adverse things about SM-Rosales, Mr. Hans Sy, SMPH Inc. owner, would not like it and Rose would needs to explain.
***
The magnetite black sand mining issue in Lingayen, Pangasinan has spawned nationally.
Complainants led by village council member Vicente Oliquinio have sued Pangasinan Governor Amado T. Espino, Administrator Rafael Baraan, consultant Eric Acuna, Pangasinan housing officer Alvin Bigay, officers of Alexandra Mining & Oil Ventures (AMOV) and Xypher Builders Inc. (XBI), and several village captains for violating the anti-graft and mining laws and the local government code because they supported and conspired with each other to allow the illegal mining.
Their complaint was anchored on the actuation of the provincial government by allowing AMOV and XBI without asking for an Environmental Certificate Clearance from the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment & National Resources and the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau, and endorsements from the provincial board and the town of Lingayen.
“They also accused the officials of abuse of authority and neglect of duty. They protested the operations of AMOV and XBI, saying the two firms had been using heavy equipment to extract black sand in commercial quantities” as quoted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer by-lined by Leila B. Salaverria on its January 31 issue.
Now here is what the law says incase it sees any malfeasance, misfeasance, and non-feasance on the alleged illegal mining activities.
If the Ombudsman or his deputy finds probable cause to the respondents they can be preventively suspended for not more than 60 days pending an investigation, if in his judgment the evidence of guilt is strong, and (a) the charge against such officer or employee involves dishonesty, oppression or grave misconduct or neglect in the performance of duty; (b) the charges would warrant removal from the service; or (c) the respondent’s continued stay in office may prejudice the case filed against him as provided by Section 24 of Republic Act 6770 (Ombudsman Law).
The respondents according to Inquirer was charged too with violating the mining laws and the local government code
“(Lingayen Mayor Ernesto) Casta├▒eda, village captains Hector Fabiano, Mario Navarro and Delfin Velasco were also liable for neglect of duty for failing to stop the illegal mining, the complaint said,” Inquirer said.
With the governor not allied with President Benigno Aquino III who heads the Liberal Party and with former Pangasinan Governor Victor Agbayani, a local LP’s stalwart, who was fingered by the Espino camp as the one behind the ruckus, and Ombudsman ConchitaCarpio Morales, a presidential appointee, a preventive suspension is a possibility.
The question now: Does preventive suspension against the governor particularly politically damage his reelection bid in the 2013 poll?
(You can read my selected intriguing but thought-provoking columns at http://mortzortigoza.blogspot.com. You can send comments too at totomortz@yahoo.com).

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