By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
It is some three months to filing candidacy for the 2007 local elections and from the speculations and so-called political analysts in the bangketa of Baguio-Benguet we gather: That if mayor Nestor Fongwan will run for the representative of the lone congressional district of Benguet. Kapangan, not Ronnie Cosalan, will have a problem of choosing between the tried and tested elder and the younger (forget the balding) and energetic mestizo. On the other hand, a band in the provincial board is trying to convince Fongwan to wrest the governorship. Benguet Gob, just smiles and chuckles at the spreading gossip. If that is his way of expressing his confidence in an ace under his sleeve or a way to hide he is worried, I couldn’t tell.
If Edna Tabanda will run for the Mayorship of La Trinidad, La Trinidad’s electorate has already made a choice. With a lady on the other side Vice mayor Galwan will scratch his head but wouldn’t have to worry about being the gentleman and a statesman throughout the campaign period. If Mayor Mario Godio of Itogon, has to climb to the provincial board. Vice-mayor Ngolob has to offer a pig for luck and Trazon may just try for the seat again too.
Rocky Molintas is not yet ready to give up his new-found passion of winning the second seat to Midland Courier but he just might join the foray near closing time.
If suspended Mayor Yaranon will run for Congress, Baguio will worry who will they elect to be the next mayor. In Tuba, the mayor’s seat is being eyed by the women but the macho Vice-mayor Bentrez doesn’t believe it is a threat.
One former mayor started sending text messages last month to his friends and former supporters that goes something like this: “Nu ada man iti pista, birtdey, kasar imbitarendakman nga guest of honor. Wenno ada gagayem tayo a natayan ta intayo makiladingit…”
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With the showing of our city honorables at last Monday’s council session on the agenda # 57, re: Jadewell, (or Jadesick as some quarters joke about it) it was heart-warming to listen to each councilor share their opinion as they cast their vote to make one decisive step towards the end of this preposterously unfair business relations in the name of the city. Though Councilor Datuin abstained, Mandapat also abstained because he seemed to have preferred just to rescind the ordinance and Fariñas was again conveniently out of sight. (People may read this as a display of unfailing loyalty to whatever the powers are behind them).
Though I feel it was inadequately represented at the august body and still at the second reading (there will yet be a third and who knows somebody may just turn turtle), initially, this is a peoples’ victory. An expression of their refusal to be cheated and bullied off what is rightfully theirs.
At the back of our mind, I hope we learned the lessons from this and draw strength from it especially that experience of speaking-out and of working together against graft and corruption. Also, the lesson that corruption can be legislated into our laws by scrupulous and insensitive politicians. Let us be vigilant and not again be victims first before we act as a people like what happened in the case of Jadewell. It took the forced towing and the clamping down of private cars by a private entity (not the responsible police force) for an uncollected parking fee (P20.00) for the Baguio middle class to complain. One councilor wanted us to believe that the parking system was to serve only those who can afford to have cars and are willing to pay the parking fee.
He didn’t hear the jeepney and taxi drivers’ organizations complaining earlier of this imposed parking fee that they had to pay from their share of a daily wage. Not completely understanding the process how the parking system came to be. Ordinary jeepney and taxi drivers only knew it was not right, it was not fair that they pay for services that actually was never provided for before by this entity and the parking space they were using was a result of negotiating with the barangay, the city and or the land owner. But then, they tell themselves, as if it was a sufficient reason to be cowed, “who will listen to the small and humble drivers? We are just drivers and not a strong and mighty honorable.”
The women’s champion could have listened a little more too to the drivers’ wives tales of woe that besides the rise in gasoline prices was that measly P20.00 taken off their husbands share of the boundary and further impoverished their families. Then maybe their confidence to represent the women would have been resolute, definite and articulately resounded in the sessions of that August body.
Activists aren’t only those who march the streets and holler their hearts out. Marching the streets or the usual rally is already a sign that there is really something very wrong in a society that people are willing to drop what they usually are doing and take their complaints to the streets. Let us not slide into complacency but be vigilant and willing to work together and defend our cherished freedoms in this highly urbanized city at any given moment. An activist can be one who sees there is something the matter and is willing to work with other people to honestly make it right for everyone.
The call has always been and we translate: “makibaka huwag matakot!.#