Friday, August 4, 2017

My Debate with a De Venecia on the City Hall's Brouhahas

 By Mortz C. Ortigoza

As I browsed my book (International Law) at McDonald –Tapuac in Dagupan City, former City Councilor Alex de Venecia, the nephew of former Speaker Joe de Venecia, stopped by at my table and asked me why I’m reading a law book.
I told him, in a mixed of Pangasinan and Tagalog, that as a political columnist I should be one step ahead with other sensible columnists on issues with international bearing.
“When I was a councilor many city hall officials and some media men hated your guts. They told me “hindi naman iyan taga dito dayo lang iyan,” Alex, who said me he just arrived from New York City.

Perspective of the New City Hall in Dagupan.

I chuckled about that branding as “dayo lang” and I cited former Pangasinan Congressmen Mark Cojuangco, Gina de Venecia, and Rachel Arenas who are also “dayo lang in Pangasinan”.

Alex and I had a friendly debate on his opinions at the relocation of the city hall at the Pantal – Lucao Road and the Referendum that should be called on the relocation of the new city’s edifice.
Alex and I debated on his opinions at the relocation of the city hall at the Pantal – Lucao Road, the Anti-Graft Case against Mayor Belen T. Fernandez, and the Referendum that should be called on the relocation of the new city’s edifice.
He told me that the donation by Businessman Kerwin Fernandez of the 1.2 hectares lot as situs for the new city hall would financially benefit the Mayor, the older sister of the donor, and her family because the hectares of lands and fishponds around the donated land would appreciate significantly in values and they are owned by the Fernandezes (in a corporation, I butted in).
“She would be liable for Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti Graft & Corrupt Practices Acts),” Alex who told me he graduated at Ateneo de Manila and New York while my “idol on English phraseology” his younger brother Solo finished his college at the University of Manila.
I told the quite skeptical Alex that the mayor said in 2013 that she divested her interest at the corporation thus she is relieved to any anti-corruption case.
“Besides, her signature of the ordinance (for the acceptance of the donation) will be ministerial as she can even refuse to sign it and the ordinance became a law in ten days, you know that as a former dad, or she can even veto the ordinance and the bill still becomes a law after two-third members of the City Council override it,” I told Alex who was a two-term councilor of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council).
I explained that the "Voice of the People is the Voice of God" or "Vox Populi Vox Dei" was represented by the council members who empowered the mayor to accept the donation.
Since the issue of the relocation of the city hall is divisive, Alex, a law graduate, said that a referendum is necessary to get the sentiments of the people.
I disagreed because it is only lengthy and it’s only an option but not compulsory for the Council as the law did not mandate it.
“Besides, the mayor and her supporters at the Sangguniang Panglungsod would not allow that. It would procrastinate further the plan to expedite the construction of the city hall and the growth center in the Pantal-Lucao Road. The CLUSP (Comprehensive Land Plan) was favorably approved by the Council, approved by the HLURB (Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board),  recently by the PEZA (Philippine Economics Zone Authority) certified the growth area in Lucao-Pantal Road as haven for big corporations like the IT-BPO (Information Technology- Business Processing Outsourcing) that would be providing 5,000 direct jobs for the graduates of the universities in the City, and the bigwigs from the COA (Commission on Audit) and the DILG (Department of Interior & Local Government) opined that the donation by Kerwin was above board,” I stressed.
So with all those Two Theses of New York City educated Alex (I finished my elementary grades with flying colors in Mababang Paaralan ng New York-Cubao that made me almost at par with the intellectual chutzpah of Alex) that I disagreed, I agreed with him on his Thesis on the Flooding in the Pantal-Lucao Areas.
The argument of Alex that I bought it was the perennial flooding in the city that was aggravated by the New de Venecia Highway.
He blamed the perennial flooding there to the presence of the multi-billion pesos De Venecia Highway, yes Virginia the highway that bears the illustrious De Venecia’s family name.
“It has no ingress and egress of the flood water from the mainland to the river. They were hampered by the De Venecia Highway,” he emphatically opined.
Oo nga ano? So your uncle Speaker Joe and the Japanese engineers at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) that constructed the multi-billion pesos de Venecia highway failed to see that there should be box culverts underneath the world class highways constructed during the time when Uncle JDV strut his stuffs with local and international political and economic bigwigs?” I posed.
Alex just shook his head on the misfortune brought by the Highway uncle JDV interceded to be constructed and completed in 1996.
As a former resident of the Philippine Military Academy at Fort del Pilar Baguio City in the late 1960s and early 1970s and late 1980s, I, my younger brother (a former member of the military’s Corp of Professor), and my retired military father attended recently the Sunday Worship Service at the Evangelical Church there.
After the service, it amused to see that about a hundred of cadets and cadettes of PMA and four dozens of mostly military men and their kin queued for cups of brewed coffee at the two stainless canisters and three huge plastic baskets of pandesals probably to reinvigorate their spirits after we exhaustively concentrated listening to the sermon of Chaplain Major Joel Flores and singing our lungs out with hosannas to the Lord.
When I bumped into Retired Colonel Orlindo C. Caingcoy and daughter Christian whose husband is Commodore Sam Felix (PMA Class of 1986 where Susan of the vaunted PMA Batchoy Canteen proudly told me na “mistah ni (PNP Chief) Bato si Sam”), my kasimanwa Professor Caingcoy told me he was a frequent visitor of Dagupan City where I resided after I left my work at the Public Information Office of the Premier Military School in 1990 for a professorial job in a university in the nearby Bangus City.
“I have my former students there who are now successful politicians,” he said.
He cited Pangasinan Second District Congressman Leopoldo Bataoil (PMA 1976) and former Pangasinan Governor and now Pangasinan Fifth District Congressman Amado T. Espino, Jr (PMA Class of 1972).

“I could not forget Espino when I was still a lieutenant while he was a cadet,” cited by Caingcoy who was an Engineer in Iloilo City before he was plucked to PMA in the 1960s.
He said Cadet Espino came to him in the early 1970s and requested him to become a soccer coach of the Academy. He said he acquiesced with Espino, who was a member of the footbal team, and was amused that once upon a time he (Caingcoy) was a soccer coach of the Long Gray Line in Barangay Kias, Baguio City.
Talking about coach, I overheard my father telling old timers there about a contemporary and PMA Boxing Mentor ”Wonder Boy” Doyaoen.
When I worked at the Academy in the late 1980s I saw the rugged but courteous Doyaoen with his military and civilian sons working together at the P.E Department located at the Jurado Hall.
Another coach I saw at the office there was Taekwondo Instructor Jeff Tamayo who should be general if not then President Joseph Estrada, where he was a closed in bodyguard, was ousted from office and whose daughter became my student in a college at University of Perpetual Help System in Las Pinas City, Metro Manila.
UPHS and its other chains of universities all over Luzon are owned by the Tamayos in Malasiqui, Pangasinan.

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