By Mortz C. Ortigoza
The brouhahas and the circus continue in traditional, social and online media, brought by the consultation hearings by the City Councilors on the donation of the 1.2 hectares of land given by the brother of the mayor for the local government in Dagupan City.
One of the arguments of the opposition hinged on Section 3B of Republic Act or Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Acts as quoted by Councilor Red Erfe-Mejia on TV interviews and the social media says:
"Directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present, share, percentage, or benefit, for himself or for any other person, in connection with any contract or transaction between the Government and any other part, wherein the public officer in his official capacity has to intervene under the law".
He continued: “Sa madaling salita bawal gamitin ang kapangyarihan sa pansariling benepisyo” and “Ililipat ang city hall sa lupain ng pamilya ng mayor na kung saan ang lupa mismo at ang mga lupang nakapalibot ay pag mamay-ari ng pamilya ng mayor”.
MY TAKE: In case Mayor Belen Fernandez signed into law the ordinance, almost unanimously passed by the members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, the signature of the mayor could not be construed as abetting graft and corruption because the family owned land probably through a corporation (where the mayor divested her interest) would benefit tremendously because the lands there would appreciate their worth when buyers buy them.
The signature of the mayor was ministerial. She did not represent the Vox Populi, Vox Dei when the majority of the councilors debated and voted for the acceptance of the ordinance. It was the Councilors who represented the Voice of God and the people of Dagupan City that it was politically correct to accept the benevolence of donor Kerwin Fernandez, the sibling of Mayor Belen T. Fernandez, when the mayor signed the proverbial dotted line of the already approved ordinance.
“The acceptance of the mayor of the donation in behalf of the city government is immoral,” dissed by the opposition and critics.
The mayor could show to all and sundry that she is dispensable to the donation by vetoing it or rejecting it or ignore it, just like Vice Mayor Brian Lim when the ordinance accepting the donation needed his signature.
“You know Harold, the law knows about the nature and vested interest of elected public officials who could hostage the general welfare by not signing the law,” I told recently my radio tandem Harold Barcelona.
Here’s what Congress had hammered in the Local Government Code to protect the people against small mindedness or parochial thinking of some government officials:
“(c) The local chief executive may veto an ordinance or resolution only once. The sanggunian may override the veto of the local chief executive concerned by two-thirds (2/3) vote of all its members, thereby making the ordinance effective even without the approval of the local chief executive concerned (Paragraph C, Section 55)”
Since Dagupan City is an independent component city it’s approved ordinance is not dependent to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan or Provincial Board of Pangasinan thus the inaction of the mayor in 30 days to sign an ordinance would be deemed as approved as law as seen on Paragraph D, Section 56 of the LGC.
The City of Dagupan, as I explained on my radio program, would benefit tremendously from the donation because it would not buy, through a loan at a government bank, a similar land that taxpayers would be paying through monthly amortizations for years.
“The monies that we intended to pay for the amortization would be wisely used for the elevation of our roads and dikes so that we would not be flooded,” I explained on radio through the vernacular.
As what I mentioned in my past commentaries, in case the lands around the periphery of the donated land spike then that’s laissez faire (free enterprise) where the families there like the Fernandezes, the Duques, Rayos, and others benefit from buyers like Kapideco (Ayala Project) Estates, SM Properties, and the Megaworld Business and others who would not mind the inflated prices of the real properties because they would be recouping profits in their business endeavours located at a strategical location.
Son of a gun, even the Philippine Economics Zone Authority (PEZA) approved recently the growth center there as haven for Business Process Outsourcing- Information Technology (BPO-IT), the $50 billion in 2020 Sonhsine Industry that could provide 2.6 million jobs in the country according to the World Bank.
Now that’s what we call Economies of Scales.
“So how can Mejia, the opposition and critics say that the people of Dagupan City are disadvantaged for this donation and the relocation of the City Hall there?” I posed to Harold.
“How can you say that those buyers would be abused by the inflated prices of the lands there when buying a land there needs a meeting of minds between them and the sellers?” I posed again.
The donation and the relocation of the new city hall at the Pantal –Lucao Road would be an economic chutzpah as the neighboring lands would become a magnet to more investors scampering and pouring their monies there and consequently benefiting those 5,000 Dagupenos that would be hired by BPO-IT and others there in the next three years.
The mayor told me that the jobs generated by the three growth centers that were earlier approved by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) would not only generate 5,000 jobs but 20,000 direct and indirect employment.
So what anomalies the critics are talking here, economists and the executives of the Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) projected the influx of jobs the relocation of the city hall, the growth centers, and the presence of the BPO-IT can bring in our city?
“But the old city hall is only a walking distance from my house thus I opposed its relocation at Pantal,” a senior citizen said at ABS-CBN TV in one of the consultations.
“We would be paying more on the jeep rides from the Eastern Barangays in going to the new city edifice thus we opposed its relocation,” a barely educated woman quipped to the poser of the same TV network’s reporter.
We call those answers as parochial, insensitive, and stupid. How can this senior citizen and the low educated woman be discriminated when the multi-plier effects of the relocation of the government building bring direct and indirect jobs to their children, grand children and the majority of the people in the Bangus City because businessmen follow the relocation?
How can a ten percent of the reclaimed fishponds of this city, that the critics said gave us “grandeur” (what grandeur?) as Dagupan Bangus is known all over the world, smacks on the 5,000 jobs the skyscrapers built there bring?
Can we trade the imagined glory (glory you dumb ass to the pockets of the few owners of those fishponds) of these fishponds to the interest of the majority in this city that has long been left out by the likes of the cities of Iloilo, Cebu, Baguio, Davao, others as the New Wave City of the Philippines?
Watch my video commentary "Iloilo City and Dagupan City Compare"
(You can read my selected columns at http://mortzortigoza.blogspot.com and articles at Pangasinan News Aro. You can send comments too at firstname.lastname@example.org)