By MORTZ C. ORTIGOZA
Another expert on the nuances of the projects undertaken by the Department of Public Works & Highways reacted to my recent column on the failure of the DPWH, under the watch of Engr. Marietta Mendoza, chief of the Sub-Engineering District, to put a footbridge at the already closed- to- traffic Marusay Bridge in Calasiao, Pangasinan.
This caused consternation among commuters who are inconvenienced with a longer and expensive fare for a detour in Brgy. San Vicente before they reach the town center or Dagupan City and vice versa.
“There is a budget for that. You ask people at DPWH how much the programmed budget was before the P90 million appropriation has been approved,” he emphatically told me.
He explained that the Spanish government has appropriated a bigger amount before the project was bided.
“Surely there were savings for that. And that saving could be enough to bankroll the foot bridge.”
My poser: Saan napunta ang pera na savings ng DPWH?
With the indifference of the DPWH to build a foot bridge, people there would suffer for almost a year as the construction of “the bridge of their agony” lasts up to March 2013.
Don’t you know that some offices of the Philippine National Police in the province are recipients of payola from illegal tupada (illegal cockfighting)?
According to a tupada operator, who asked for anonymity, every month he gives P1, 500 to each of the police offices.
“It is P1, 500 a month for each of them. “Pambili daw ng bigas para sa opisina nila,” he told me in the vernacular.
He said that there are 105 tupadahan in the province. If each of them gives P1,500 a month, each of the police units get a whopping P157,500 monthly.
“It’s the price for the protection if one is into illegal business,” he quipped.
Protection, in police parlance, is insulation from future raid because of the illegal nature of the trade.
It seems Dagupan City Mayor Benjie S. Lim and his administrator Vlad Mata outsmarted Vice Mayor Belen Fernandez and her allies at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (City Council).
When the P581 million fiscal appropriations for 2012 were deliberated, funds for the famous street dance Gilon-Gilon were ominously absent.
When the P581 million was approved by the council, the mayor asked immediately for an urgent supplemental budget of P10, 060,318.23 for the funding of the street dance (P7,750,000, or P250 thousand for each of the 31 villages for training and props) while the remaining portion of the P10 million is earmarked for the enhancement of the city’s environmental resources.
But when I met councilors Jig Sheen and Alfie Fernandez on the afternoon of April 16at the august chamber after an “angry’ vice mayor (because some councilors left the session earlier without her permission) adjourned the session, both told me that the P10 million supplemental budget requested by the mayor was already approved.
I was not surprised. Why? If I would be in the shoes of the vice mayor or the dads I would initiate for its approval pronto before the advent of the dance contest. Otherwise, that would be a death-knell for them since almost all of them (except Belen who is rumored to slug it out with Benjie in the mayoralty) are running for re-election next year.
The street dance is traditionally considered as “sacred” event by Dagupenos, and Fernandez et al would not want any part of its ‘sacrilege’.
In a press conference called by Lim at Robinson Mall in April 13, 2012 dubbed as “Kick- off @ Robinson’s Place (for the Bangus Festival)”, the vice mayor and her allies were not around.
“Was it because the presscon was not named: “Kick- Off at CSI Super Mall’s Place”? A mammoth retail store owned by the vice mayor in Dagupan City” I sheepishly asked somebody.
Instead. Lim was accompanied by loyalists councilors Brian Lim and Red Erfe-Mejia, and “wild card” dad Dr. Jess Canto (the latter is the vice mayor’s “torn in the spine” when the legislative body over-rode with two-third votes the veto of Lim last year but found themselves wanting. But Administrator Mata told me that even with Canto at the behest of the vice mayor the dads could not still muster the necessary two-third votes).
“Mabuti pa si Mayor (Mark Roy) Macanlalay sumusuporta sa Bangus Festival” a media man quipped when he saw the young mayor of the nearby Calasiao town gamely joined the two Lims at the press conference’s table.
Oh, I did ask Mayor Lim with three series of questions ala CNN (Calasiao News Network). My first query: “The first salvo of the press con for the festival is held here at Robinson in an strange land called Calasiao town and not in the fortresses of our city Dagupan, would the next year’s press conference be held at the newly constructed SM-Dagupan City?”
Holy Casserole and Guacamole, the mayor just shook his head with amusement. I don’t know if he deemed my question as funny or just plain stupid.
Last week was a “hell” of a bump day for me.
In that April 14, 2012 Robinson Mall’s kick- off press con, I bumped with the amiable Ana Jaboneta Velasco who told me she was reassigned at the City Information Office. She used to be a nurse at the city health’s office.
Susmariosep, it took former “de facto” CIO top guy Joseph Bacani to inform me at another media event at Jollibee-Lucao that Ana was not only with the CIO, she was appointed as the top honcho of the “propaganda” office.
Mrs. Velasco, whose hubby is the soft-spoken Butch is an “incumbent Joseph Goebbels” of the Provincial Information Office in Lingayen town, is a kababayan in Cotabato.
A daughter of Atty. Jesus Jaboneta, regional director of the Department of Labor & Employment, Ana graduated in 1992 as a nurse at Notre Dame University in Cotabato City. She also writes a column at Pangasinan Star.
I bumped too, into Tapuac Brgy. Captain Jake Reyes who is the vice president of Dagupan City’s Liga ng mga Barangays. He told me that the national leadership of the Liga in tandem with the 42 thousand barangays in the country has passed their respective resolutions calling for synchronization of the election of the village poll and the presidential election in 2016.
It means all barangay captains in the country excluding Captain Barbell and all “kagawad (village lawmakers) would have their term extension beyond the scheduled October 2013 poll.
I was told that Liberal Party congressman Erin Tanada (a senatorial wannabe) and Sec. Jess Robredo of the Department of Interior & Local Government were vigorously spearheading this move in congress.
With the juggernauts of the LP and Malacanang behind this move, who can be against the postponement?
Suerte ng mga Kapitans, malas naman ng mga gustong magkapitan he he. You have to wait for another two – and- half more years when the countdown starts in October 2013.
I bumped too, into Councilor Lim lately somewhere in Brgy. Lucao. I asked him his take on the TV pronouncements of Vice Mayor Belen Fernandez that he told his colleagues at the August Chamber that it was no longer necessary to ask for a P10 million appropriation for the Gilon-Gilon ed Dalan on April 28, 2013.
Lim denied it. He explained to me that his party’s decision to ask for an appropriation is the prudent way after they evaluated how much expenses the street dance’s entails.”Unlike the practice of the preceding administration where the monies have been appropriated arbitrarily by the SP (Sanguniang Panglungsod) without thoroughly evaluating it,” he said.
I bumped into former maverick councilor professor Alex de Venecia. “Oh, you’re sporting a city hall uniform,” I quipped to him. Alex, who is the nephew of rabble rousing former Speaker Joe (a political opponent of Mayor Lim), told me that he was just appointed by the mayor to head the population office of the city. Good luck, Kuya Alex for your demographic work!
Lastly, as I walked casually at the downtown area I was nearly bumped by a steamroller (pison) of the DPWH. But because of my extraordinary instinct I was able to avoid a columnist disaster. I thought the “near accident” was premeditated assassination attempt using a “pison” after my series of criticisms of the anomalies and incompetence’s of the leadership of the public works. (You can read my selected intriguing but thought-provoking columns at http://mortzortigoza.blogspot.com. You can send comments too at firstname.lastname@example.org).