BAGUIO CITY (Oct. 25) — Various groups – from ordinary housewives to businessmen, moderate to militant, jeepney drivers to car owners – trooped to the Sangguniang Hall of this summer capital city with a common call to drive out the Jadewell Parking System Corporation out of this city due to abusive and arrogant Jadewell personnel and questionable local government passages and deals.
Aside from demanding city officials to end the 6-year plague that is Jadewell they also asked the council to act decisively on the repeal of the pay parking ordinance by junking City Ordinance 003, series of 2000 and the June 2000 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) entered into with Jadewell by then City Mayor Mauricio Domogan, now the lone congressional representative.
Before the public hearing called for the purpose, these groups agreed to a more massive information dissemination to get the citizenry’s support and for continued and sustained actions to finally bring back the city streets to the people of Baguio.
City Councilor Jose Mencio Molintas, who initiated the dialog, agreed to support citizen actions he considered as “people power” and recognized under the Constitution. Molintas called for a public hearing as head of the council Committee on Human Rights, Justice, Public Protection and Safety, and Peace and Order.
Igorot leaders confer with Councilor Jose Molintas, chairman of the city council committee on public order, safety, human rights and justice (right) after the public hearing on alleged Jadewell towing victims including those irked by the alleged anti-Igorot slur several years ago at the city council session on Wednesday morning. Photo by Ace Alegre
Molintas clarified that the citizens have rights granted by the constitution and international laws which may be exhausted in favor of the citizenry’s interests against acts committed by officials that contradict the peoples’ interests. He added that these rights include those of expression, of assembly and petition the government for redress of grievances, which are meta-legal tactics clothed under the 1987 Constitution.
All angry at Jadewell
Perhaps emboldened by the city council’s earlier move towards the rescission of the 12-year contract and the repeal of the 2000 pay parking ordinance, victims of alleged illegal towing, clamping and street bullying by Jadewell presonnel cried “enough”.
Former Ilocos Norte Board Member Nick Parado and his wife, who was just back from an operation, shared a gory experience of towing last week, when their car parked along Session Road was towed. She couldn’t move and was too helpless inside the car which was being towed.
Parado said he pleaded but to no avail. He was dismayed that even in emergency cases Jadewell personnel remain abusive and inconsiderate. He brought his wife to a doctor’s clinic and going back to the parking area when the towing incident happened.
An irate Parado called on Baguio people to drive away Jadewell and review how city officials fared in representing their plight and issues.
Emotions were high when Baguio-born Cesar Fianza, younger brother of Ambassador Florencio Fianza, a retired PNP general and RP’s special envoy on Transnational Crime narrated how the older Fianza was allegedly grabbed by the neck by a Jadewell attendant. “Where are our officials who should defend us?” the younger Fianza asked.
Sixty-four year old local cable TV host and anti-Jadewell activist Benny Arreola all but cursed the “no compassion, no respect” of the private firm on the Baguio people. “Hindi naman sa bente pesos ang issue. Tungkol ito sa pag-aari ng kalsada sa Baguio. Tao ang may-ari nito,” (The issue is not the P20, but the ownership of Baguio streets) he said.
Maybelle de los Santos claimed that Jadewell personnel led by Rudy Munar bullied her for not paying parking fees at the Harrison Road. She insisted not to pay as she is just following the advise of suspended Mayor Braulio Yaranon.
She drove her car and left the area. Due to that incident, a case of alleged attempted murder, reduced by the City Prosecutor to reckless imprudence resulting to injuries, was filed by Munar against her.
“How could I hurt that big man (Munar)? claimed de los Santos, a law student, adding that what happened is a plain harassment.
In a supposed purely bourgeois issue like street parking, came the issues of Baguio’s common folk. ‘It is not true that drivers are not affected by Jadewell,’ said Carlito Wayas, president of the local Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON-Metro Baguio). Parking spaces for the various jeepney lines are charged P500 daily. The burden, we cannot pass on to commuters,’ he continued.
Tongtongan Ti Umili, Metro-Baguio chapter of Cordillera Peoples Alliance (TTU-CPA) also made a resounding “Jadewell, get out” statement. Its chair, Geraldine Cacho said, “There is no doubt that the privatization of our streets through pay parking is most disadvantageous to the public.” She also called on city officials “to pursue all possible legislative measures to effect the immediate ejection of (the pay parking firm).” Cacho said TTU-CPA will join other sectors “for a more continued and sustained actions to decisively drive Jadewell out of the city.”
Calling for the non-privatization of the streets Cacho reiterated that Jadewell had been raking profits without seeing to its responsibility to improve or maintain city streets.
“Privatization is also usually accompanied by corruption in order to buy votes of politicians and legislations to ensure passage of needed legislations and to legalize anomalous contracts,” Cacho added.
Other leaders of village organizations like the Irisan People Against Demolitions and for Good Governance (IPADEGG) whose president Ador Ramo likewise called on Baguio residents to look into which side their officials are in now and junk those that are not with them. Irisan barangay is the most populated village among the 129 barangays here boasting of a sizable determinant number in local polls.
Ramo pointed out that the same officials are involved in Jadewell, the market scam, and land scam particularly in Irisan.
He added that the issues should be broadened to include the different scams. “We need the peoples’ participation as we are facing powerful and those in power,” he added.
Supportive professionals and businessmen
The Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) also supports the groups declared veteran human rights lawyer Reynaldo Cortes. Maintain your vigilance and militancy, he added.
The FLAG national leadership headed by Atty. Pablito Sanidad are also gearing up to join the D-day on November 22, when the 60-day notification for the rescission ends.
Cortes did not mince any words in blaming former city officials who approved the ordinance allowing pay parking in public roads and called on the people to be wary of them again in the next elections. He said the ordinance was adopted by then mayor Domogan. Agreeing with Molintas that the people’s assembly and march-rally are constitutional, he added that his group (FLAG) 100 % supports more vigilant and militant peoples’ action against Jadewell.
The brewing sentiment of turning into the so-called parliament of the streets is but a reaction of the people to the seemingly insensitive systems of recourse like the courts that takes years and years.
Several months ago, anti-Jadewell forces submitted to the city council a required 1,000 signatures asking the local legislatures to repeal the pay parking ordinance. In a majority vote, the 14-member council has favored it but is now tied with whether a judicial rescission of the contract is the best option.
Joining the bourgeosie, urban poor folks sign up for the planned takeover of Jadewell. Photo by Ace Algre
Businesswoman Nelia Cid, a leader of the Baguio Crusaders Against Jadewell said they have gathered almost 55,000 signatures to drive Jadewell out. She vowed they can muster enough strength on November 22 to show how angry the Baguio residents are. # Arthur L. Allad-iw and Ace Alegre for NORDIS