|Re-electionist Mayor Lim|
Bares plan for a modern metropolis
By Ruel Camba
DAGUPAN CITY –Mayor Benjamin S. Lim (BSL) considers the forthcoming May elections as a referendum of his accomplishments and the things he is set to do if re-elected to transform this city into a modern metropolis.
Lim said it is becoming clear that his opponent is doing all the tricks available to discredit what his administration has achieved so far “and what promises can my opponent give vis-à-vis what I have done.”
“I have fought several battles and I have yet to see somebody who has badmouthed me as vicious as this one,” he said.
The mayor said his critics have almost nothing to show in terms of accomplishments, thus they are employing every means to destroy him including the filing of lawsuits and making use of their own media outfits.
Lim said that he has received reports that his political opponent, Vice Mayor Belen Fernandez, has bought a local radio station and acquired ownership of a top local newsweekly whose publisher is an erstwhile critic of the mayor.
Although they are yet to be confirmed, the reports keep on circulating, he said.
Fernandez’s family also owns USATV, a local cable television. “I see this as a big challenge because at the end of the day, it’s the people who will make the choice,” he said, adding that he never expected to get fair publicity from these media outfits controlled by his opponent.
As far as the lawsuits are concerned, Lim said the cases have yet to be decided by the courts, stressing that Malacañang has recently cleared him of an administrative case in connection with the purchase by the city government of a parcel of land in Awai, San Jacinto town intended for a sanitary landfill project.
The mayor was confident that Dagupeños will not buy what his critics are saying about him and his administration. “I would like to think that at the end of the day I will be proven correct and I will be able to prove them wrong….and this election will give a clearer picture,” Lim said.
Lim said that despite the programs and projects already set in place, more things have yet to be done to make Dagupan a modern metropolis.
He said that the first two years after he regained the mayoralty seat in 2010 were hampered by lack of cooperation by majority members of the city council. “It was only very recently that there was a change in the number game in the council that we were able to start doing some positive changes,” he pointed out. Lim laid out his plan for a modern metropolis to be called Dagupan 2025 by putting together Dagupan and the municipality of San Fabian to attract big-stake investors like the Ayalas, Zobels, and the Fil-Chinese tycoons.
This happened to the fast-growing region of CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas and Quezon provinces) which, he pointed out, has now the highest per capita income in the country.
Lim said carving a metropolitan city out of Dagupan and San Fabian will be made possible by the construction of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TEPLEX) and the Clark International Airport. “I foresee that if we do not expand Dagupan City and enlarge its area for development we will be overtaken by the other cities and so it’s important that we are able to rally the people towards this particular vision and really explain to them the advantages of putting this one town and one city together,” he said.
Lim said Dagupan and San Fabian share the same coastline and so ideal for the construction of a coastal highway that will cut travel time from Rosario, La Union where the TEPLex passes through to Dagupan to only 5 to 10 minutes. Presently, travel time from Urdaneta or Binalonan or Pozorrubio to Dagupan takes about an hour.
Once the TEPLex is completed, travel time from Clark International Airport to Dagupan will take only about one hour and forty-five minutes. The mayor said more investors and tourists will flock to the new metropolis and he projected that the combined income of the two local government units will double and will exceed P2 billion. The value of land will jump up and farmers who own land will be able to sell their property three or four-fold. He cited the case of CALABARZON where many farmers became millionaires.
“I foresee Dagupan in the next 12 years transforming into an economic growth center because it will now be easy for us to invite investors who will need hundreds of hectares to develop into retirement village, trade center, medical center, convention destination, and economic zones,” he said.
Limited Land Area
Lim said Dagupan’s aggregate land area is only about 46 square kilometers, and almost half of it consists of rivers and fishponds which cannot be easily converted into commercial use. San Fabian, on the other hand, has a total land area of about 76 square kilometers with vast tracts of land that are flood-free areas.
Lim said what big-time investors need are vast tracts of land to develop, which Dagupan could hardly offer but are available in San Fabian.
“Ito yongnakikitakona opportunity and we need a leader who has vision and political will; a convincing leader who would be able to sell the idea of expanding Dagupan so that it could be a major city to be looked upon in the very near future,” Lim said.
He said he will definitely sit down with whoever sits as the next representative of the district in Congress to discuss this plan as it will bring about tremendous benefits to the people of the two LGUs and the neighboring municipalities.
“I’am not talking of all these happening in 20 years, I’m only talking of 12 years and this will happen for as long as we have commonality of vision,” Lim said.
Although he welcomes criticisms, Lim believed that the people are more interested in what a leader can do to improve the quality of their lives. “Hopefully, this fight would be won not through promises or criticizing a person, or pinupuna lang yong mali kundi ano ang pwedeng gawin para sakabutihan ng lahat,” he said. Lim said he is willing to go the extra mile to explain to his constituents what can be done collectively “and not what can be done by wrongly criticizing other people.” “Criticism is part of our job and I will have to be criticized, but if you criticize wrongly without presenting solutions to the problems then you are just being a part of the problem,” he said.