Monday, December 9, 2013

Mayor Balolong's Revelation to Me

Even in Mindanao last week, friends asked me about the well publicized drama brought by the acrimonious arrest of the National Bureau of Investigation on Urbiztondo, Pangasinan Mayor Ernesto Balolong.
“Grabe naman iyong mayor niyo sa Pangasinan ang daming armas doon sa bahay niya,” one of them told me.
“Paano niya gagamitin iyong kadaming high powered na baril na iyon unless he is a gun enthusiast?” a retired police colonel who was once assigned in Pangasinan posed to me at social media Facebook. He saw the pictures in my blog on  the cache of firearms and of Balolong vehemently protesting his arrest as he was handcuffed, dragged, and pushed like a scoundrel by the NBI agents into their van.
Urbiztondo Mayor Ernesto Balalong resisted the handcuffed
of the operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation.
"Ano ang ground niyo na hulihin ako. Lahat ng baril ko
may licensiya,"he protested to NBI-NCR Regional
 Director Vicente De Guzman (not seen on the


Just this morning media man Harold Barcelona called me here in Davao City that Balolong has just called a press conference attended by national newspapers and regional TV networks.
“Ya, that was what I advised to kuya Rudy (Mandapat, Balolong’s de facto “little mayor” who was former San Carlos City’s savvy bursar) to immediately call a press conference upon the arrival of the hizzoner to rectify any misconceptions about him brought about by the charges and the arrest,” I said.
Balolong was my room mate
I told folks in Davao City and Cotabato that I was a roommate of Balolong two years ago at the five- star Water Front Hotel in Cebu City when we, together with some mayors in Pangasinan like former Mayors Leoncio “Janggit” S Saldivar and Lito Peralta, attended a national hog summit.
Despite the “warlord” and toughie mentality painted by his political detractors, I found Balolong soft spoken and down-to-earth in Cebu.
PANGASINAN MAYORS IN CEBU CITY: From left Mayor Balolong of
 Urbiztondo,former MayorJangit Zaldivar of San Nicolas, Mortz,
former Mayor Peralta of Balunggao

(I don’t know about this trait in his turf the rambunctious town of Urbiztondo).
“Mortz, ikot tayo sa city mamayang gabi,” he whispered to me after I told him how progressive Cebu compared to cities in Northern Luzon.
But we were not able to have our tour and bar hopping because a congressman and a senator told us to stay in the hotel as we would be treated with some exciting things that befit visitors like mayors whenever they attend a national confab far away from their political turf.
The following morning Balolong gave me the excess Johnny Walkers, J & B, Hennessey Cognac, and other expensive liquors still in their boxes but whose contents have been slightly consumed in the Bacchanalian Feast the night before sponsored by some powers that be.
“Sa iyo na lahat iyan, “ he told me as if insinuating that he has a load of the intoxicating stuff in his “kingdom” Urbiztondo.
When we landed in Manila he told me that I go with him and not ride the air-conditioned bus in nearby Pasay City as his police escorts in his Toyota Land Cruiser from Pangasinan were already outside.
“Hatid na kita sa Dagupan,” the good hearted mayor told me.
“Huwag na mayor, ibaba niyo na lang ako sa Tarlac City at doon na ako mag-aabang ng aircon bus para hindi ko na kayo mas-itorbo sa biyahe ninyo pauwing Urbiztondo,” I begged.
Balolong’s Revelation
What I relished about the mayor was when we were traversing Manila to Dau, Pampanga (where we ate our late dinner composed of the famous Kapampangan’s delicacy’s sizzling sisig) was when he told me his life story.
“Kuwentuhan kita Mortz ng buhay ko,” he told me as we passed EDSA Boulevard in Manila.
The 5’4” 50-something local chief executive narrated that he was a son of a public school teacher who wanted him to emulate his father’s profession.
“Ayaw ko talagang maging guro. Nakita ko kung gaano ka hirap ang buhay ng teacher.”
To avoid being sent to a college in Pangasinan to take up education, he stowed away in Manila and worked as a labourer in a construction company so he could fend for himself and pay his tuition for a commerce degree.
“I took advanced ROTC (Reserved Officer’s Training Course) and when I graduated I was employed at a construction company a
s a supervisor of its security,” he told me in Filipino.
The Aquino Connection
He said his employer was the husband of Senator Tessie Aquino Oreta and his immediate boss at the office was Noynoy Aquino – the present president of the country and the son of then incumbent Philippine President Cory.
He said he left the Oreta firm after he learned the craft from a neighbour in Manila on how to make high-end window grills.
“Kumita ako sa negosyo ko na iyon that I bought lands full of mango trees in Urbiztondo.”
That grill business became a spark-plug for his mammoth hog raising venture (where he became a major supplier of pork in the humongous province if not in the region) and political career by defeating Mayor Bernardo Arambulo -  a well-entrenched formidable politico in the town.
Meeting Senator Noynoy Aquino
His election for the top political post in Urbiztondo became an avenue for meeting again his former boss at the Oreta office when he was a struggling security officer.
“Hearing iyon ng redistricting (congressional apportionment) na ni proposed ni (then) Congressman (Victor) Agbayani. Kasama ako sa mga mayors na dinala ni Governor (Amado T. Espino) sa Senado”.
When then Senator Benigno Aquino III saw him there he was surprised and quipped: “O Ernie, bakit ka nandito?”
“Ay sir, kasi mayor na ako ng Urbiztondo, Pangasinan,” the typically shy Balolong scratched his head.
The president gave him his personal number of his mobile phone and told him that Balsy and Biel would be visiting him in his house soon in Urbiztondo to map out how he could contribute to the senator’s plan to run for the presidency in 2010 election.
“Ito iyong number ni president. Hindi ito alam nila governor at mga pulitiko sa Pangasinan,” as he searched in his cellular phone the number of President Aquino for me see and give credence to what he narrated.
Aquino won as President
When Aquino won the presidency, former Urdaneta City mayor and congressman and present Taiwan de facto ambassador the Capri ciggie smoking Amadito Perez called him. Cristino L. Naguiat, Jr. (Perez’s son in law who was appointed by his Ateneo best friend and classmate President Aquino as Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation chief executive officer) wanted to see him for the release of the two mini vans President Aquino promised Balolong.
“Sir, pupunta po ako doon pero dapat kasama si Rudy Mandapat, consultant ko,” Balolong told Perez.
Perez acceded by calling Naguiat that Balolong and a companion were coming.
Two month suspension
When Balolong, through the advice of Mandapat, negotiated for the ordinance on the P52.4 million loan of the town from the Philippine National Bank in 2012 despite the absence of the written approval of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial board), the board suspended him for two months.
In his appeal to Malacanang, his lawyers used the argument of Mandapat that the money released by the PNB was legal despite the absence of the imprimatur from the board.
“Ito nakalagay sa Section 56 (d) ng Local Government Code that if no action has been taken by the sangguniang panlalalwigan within thirty (30) days after its submission of such an ordinance or resolution, the same shall be presumed consistent with law and therefore valid, “ I remembered the Marlboro Red chomping Mandapat showing to me the Local Government Code he mastered like the palm of his hand.
Just a few weeks after Balolong’s counsel sent his appeal to the Office of the President (OP), the latter reversed it and told the board that Balolong be reinstated as mayor.
Many were surprised by the comeuppance and reproach by the OP to the honourable members of the August Chamber in Pangasinan.
I was not. I suspected Balolong has probably dialled that very important phone number he showed me when we were inside his Sports Utility Vehicle.
In the 2013 polls I saw Balolong donning the yellow signature collared shirt of the Liberal Party – the same shirt he wore when he was dragged by the NBI at the van – and “go for broke” against gubernatorial re-electionist Amado T. Espino by supporting gubernatorial challenger Hernani Braganza in a black propaganda-driven election. Aquino and Secretary Mar Roxas of the Department of the Interior and Local Government muzzled Espino but, with sheer chutzpah, still wiggled himself to more than half-a-million votes lead victory — thanks to his well-oiled political juggernaut.
As what Mayor Balolong said at GMA-7 Balitang Amianan (I saw on Face Book when  I was still cooling my heels in M'lang , Cotabato Province with bigwigs like Maguindanao Governor Toto Mangudadatu 602nd Brigade Brig. General Ademar Tomaro (PMA'82),
 former Province of Cotabato Governor and 2016 congressional shoo-in Manny Pinol, M'lang Mayor Lito Pinol, to name a few), the NBI agents asked apology on the embarrassment,  rough treatment, and the filing of resisting arrest they gave the mayor when he protested for his handcuffing for all TV viewers to see and hear: “Boss, ano ang kasalanan ko? May mga licensiya naman lahat ng mga baril ko!”
He said how can they implicate him for the killings of three individuals when the NBI knows scientifically that ballistic examination of the slugs in their possession could not incriminate him. by comparing them to the grooves of his 20 plus guns.
He said the cases the NBI filled at the Municipal Trial Court that acts as prosecutorial body in Urbiztondo were haphazardly filed and insinuated that they too would be dismissed.
He said he would not file a counter case against the NBI operatives' strongman tactics that humiliated him, soiled his position, and threatened fellow mayors in other parts of the country that NBI can act like SS Troopers in hauling them to the van like pigs.
Here’s my poser before I end this article: Why the “Mea-Culpa (Apology) from the NBI?
Has somebody called Justice Secretary Leila de Lima or NBI Director Medardo de Lemos (OIC) and told them that the one they hurled to the calaboose was not an ordinary next door mayor, but used to be the trusted officer of the highest leader of the land?
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