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Common sense wins

“I’m the kind of person who would have liked to have lived at the Plaza. I love crystal chandeliers and gold leaf, velvets and mirrors, Oriental rugs and marble.”

–Candace Bushnell

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

WE laud the Treñas administration for its recent decision to free Iloilo City’s public plazas from “eye sores” that branch out during annual fiestas and other religious and cultural festivities.
There should be no need actually for any law to prevent “ukay “ukay” and “trade fairs” from destroying the aesthetics of our plazas
Common sense tells us that these spaces aren’t for commercial use but act as a focal point for the civic and social life of a city, a place where impromptu gatherings, people watching and even, political discourse all naturally intersect.
Also, we laud the Treñas administration’s attempt to collaborate with the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) for the rehabiliation of the public plazas.
It’s about time.

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Our public plazas–from the City Proper’s Plaza Libertad to the districts of Bo. Obrero, Arevalo, Mandurriao, Jaro, and La Paz– have been neglected and abused since time immemorial, and no local government administration has initiated a dramatic move to even free and protect them from vandals and commercial activities that defeat the purpose why they were built.
Central plazas and squares play a crucial role in successful urban areas.
When neglected or designed poorly, they can act as a black hole, sucking the life out of a city center.
Most colonial cities in Spanish America and the Philippines were planned around a square plaza de armas, where troops could be mustered, as the name implies, surrounded by the governor’s palace and the main church.
A plaza de toros is a bullring.

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The term plaza is a Spanish word, cognate to Italian piazza, Portuguese praça, Galician praza, Catalan plaça, Romanian piața, German Platz and French place (which has also been borrowed into English).
The origin of all these words is, via Latin platea, from Greek plateia (hodos), meaning “broad (way or street)” thus even the creation of Presidential Decree 1216, which provides that parks are for public use and therefore “beyond the commerce of men”, was no longer necessary if we only use common sense.
Rob Dyrdek once reminded us that “The evolution of the plaza always came from the idea of just a really good place to ride a skateboard that you could ride at anytime, and that’s what the foundation always stands for – being a place that’s free, open and legal… for those that are technical, to do really hard stuff, and for those who are learning, to just have fun.”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

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Posted by on October 15, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

‘Juan Dela Cruz’ knows where the bodies are buried

“When I saw corruption, I was forced to find truth on my own. I couldn’t swallow the hypocrisy.”

–Barry White

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

NOW it can be told: “Juan Dela Cruz” isn’t just a suspected merchant of chaos and intrigues.
He is both a sniper and one who operates a remote-controlled land mine in the Iloilo City Hall.
“Juan Dela Cruz” is a city hall insider with a Google-like information about just any transaction the city government had undertaken, and about just any personality involved in the transaction.
And he still apparently holds a lot of keys that can help unlock more Pandora boxes.
As long as he remains anonymous and has unlimited access to the mainstream media, he can detonate a land mine that will make life miserable for many corrupt characters, including those who may be–and may have been–falsely accused of committing a wrongdoing.
But because “Juan Dela Cruz” is a fictitious name, many scoundrels zapped by his sniper won’t be formally charged in court, but will just merely be exposed to shame and embarrassment.

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But, look, he isn’t a pushover.
Many of the names and designations (including their mode of shenanigans) “Juan Dela Cruz” mentioned in the second wave of his terror attack really exist (we aren’t saying though the allegations against them were true).
His motive in sowing a massive bedlam is still unclear.
In his opening salvo, “Juan Dela Cruz” wobbled (but failed to bundle out) the Manikan couple– Local Civil Registrar’s Office (LCRO) chief Romeo Caesar “Juncae” Manikan and wife, City tourism assistant chief Eireen Rita.
In his latest blitzkrieg, “Juan Dela Cruz” ripped through the territorial waters of mostly Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas’ own acolytes, accusing them of conflict of interest and other monkey business.
He showed to all and sundry he isn’t Treñas’ bogeyman, after all!
One thing we can be certain of is “Juan Dela Cruz”, being familiar with the terrain, must’ve hobnobbed with some of the characters he had mentioned in some other time and clime or even regularly.
He is apparently familiar with the extent of their participation in the crime, including the murder weapons.
“Juan Dela Cruz” knows where the bodies are buried.

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A recent video that circulated in the social media showed several armed young men and women walking in an identified place believed to be a mountainous area somewhere in the Visayas or Mindanao.
Most of them looked healthy and strong and were only in their 20s and 30s.
They were like ROTC cadets and appeared to be new recruits of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-New People’s Army (NPA).
In the 70’s and 80’s some of the NPA cadres who participated in gun battles versus the government forces looked skinny and malnourished.
Now they look like Olympic athletes and are brimming with pride and confidence as they march wearing Nike baseball caps and large backpacks.
So the CPP-NPA is still very much active and continues to attract young warriors?
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Why Ilonggos won’t oppose redistricting bill

“Good things happen when you get your priorities straight.”

–Scott Caan

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

THE proposed House bill dividing Iloilo City into two legislative districts re-filed recently by Iloilo City lone district Rep. Julienne “Jamjam” Baronda will never encounter any drastic opposition from the Ilonggos.
We predict that it will even be passed smoothly in the Lower House and eventually signed into law by the President.
The proposed bill is harmless and its intention, according to the proponents, is to bring more benefits and progress for the Ilonggo populace.
As long as it is not a controversial bill that will have a negative impact on the people’s economic well-being, Ilonggos will not complain; they will not stand in the way to stymie what can’t hurt them.

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Many Ilonggos, in fact, don’t even give too much attention to the news about the redistricting bill. They leave the matter to the politicians.
Most of them believe the issue isn’t really earthshaking that would warrant their full scrutiny.
In the back of their minds, they have elected their public officials and they shall be the ones to worry whether the proposed bill is beneficial to the electorate.
Amid the economic hardships, Ilonggos worry first for their families before anything else.
They are busy making both ends meet; they care most for their next meal on the table; they are focused on the welfare of their children and livelihood, and how to eke out a living to ensure their monthly bills and other financial obligations are settled on time.

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It will be the local politicians, not the common tao, who are head-over-heels over the proposed redistricting bill.
At least their will be a light at the end of the tunnel for their political future after they have been sledge-hammered and ousted in the previous elections.
Local politicians with burning desires to win a seat in the House of Representatives will definitely back the proposed redistricting bill.
They are aware that once a dominant political group has taken over like the Trenas-Baronda-Ganzon triumvirate, it will be very hard for them to squeeze in when the next election beckons if it remains a lone congressional district.
With two legislative districts, their hopes of going to Congress without swimming into the deep blue sea for a head-on collision with the Titanic, will be avoided.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Tourism to the rescue

“The thing about tourism is that the reality of a place is quite different from the mythology of it.”

–Martin Parr

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

POLITICS and all other depressing news should now take a backseat for a positive event.
The best way to promote the assets, world-class facilities, and infrastructure and highlight the potentials of Iloilo City and Province is to listen to what the Department of Tourism (DOT) will say on this subject matter.
The best way coax investors and pump lifeblood in Iloilo’s economy is to support the DOT programs especially if they will benefit the entire region and create a myriad of opportunities for the Ilonggos.
We can always count on the DOT to sprinkle dynamism and fresh air and change the tune of local discussions from political muckraking to tourism and economic breakthroughs.
Thus we laud the DOT Western Visayas headed by Director Helen J. Catalbas and the Tourism Board for the launching October 9 of the Iloilo City Meetings, Incentive Travels, Conferences/Conventions, Exhibitions/Events (MICE) Campaign with the tagline “Meet you in Iloilo” at the Iloilo Convention Center in Iloilo Business Park, Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

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The event reportedly aims to position Iloilo as MICE destination and will gather top associations and corporations in the Philippines, travel managers and event organizers to see for themselves what Iloilo has to offer.
As quoted in a recent report, Catalbas explained: “The Iloilo City MICE Campaign will not be possible without the support from the Tourism Promotions Board, Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), MICE Alliance members and other partners. The unity of tourism stakeholders in positioning Iloilo City as MICE destination is an overwhelming factor to promote inclusive growth.”
The report added: “In sync with the promotion of Iloilo as MICE destination, DOT VI strongly encourages tourism enterprises to be DOT-Accredited MICE organizer or facility/venue to ensure quality services are being offered to clients and visitors.”

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We hope Iloilo City lone district Representative Julienne “Jamjam” Baronda was able to hold a public consultation before she reportedly filed House Bill 3074 or An Act Reapportioning the Lone Legislative District and the Sangguniang Panlungsod of the City of Iloilo.
Under the bill, which was co-authored by two other Iloilo solons, Rep. Raul Tupas (5th district, Iloilo) and Rep. Michael Gorriceta (2nd district, Iloilo), the First Legislative Distrist will be composed of Jaro, La Paz, and Mandurriao while the Second Legislative District will be composed of City Proper, Molo, Arevalo and Lapuz.
In any major legislation involving the district and the welfare of the people, a public hearing is necessary; all the stakeholders must have an active participation and voice in the pre-filing level before a bill of such importance and magnitude is introduced in congress.
In the public consultation, the people will have to hear the pros and cons and the opportunity to further study and strengthen the proposed legislation will be guaranteed.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

‘Rock star’ treatment could endanger cop’s life

“I try not to be influenced by success or popularity.”

–Suga

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

POLICE Major Jovie Espenido is just an ordinary police officer, but fans of extra-judicial killings (EJK) made him a bigger-than-life hero.
Every time Espenido’s name and his next assignment are mentioned in the press, EJK fans, including the media, burst in excitement as if they are about to see the Halley’s Comet.
Espenido himself could be surprised that he has been accorded the “rock star” treatment by those who advocate for immediate annihilation of drug dealers, so that the government will no longer waste the taxpayers’ money for the litigation of these criminals.
He earned the “berdugo” (executioner) reputation after being assigned in Ozamis City where he led the raid on the resident of the dangerous Parojinog family in 2017 that resulted in many deaths and arrest of suspected drug traffickers who were previously untouchables.

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In the Philippines, those who talk tough and act with iron fists–even if some of them are dimwits–are admired and hailed as heroes.
Then they are elected in the senate.
Espenido also became a media sensation when President Duterte wanted to assign him in Iloilo City two years ago in a bid to scare former mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who was believed to have flown to Canada earlier.
Duterte fanatics, especially Mabilog’s enemies, welcomed the news of Espenido’s scheduled transfer in Iloilo City; some even flooded the social media with veiled threats and mockery aimed directly at the crestfallen former city mayor.
Espenido’s transfer was called off after the intelligence reportedly intercepted reports that Espenido’s life was in danger; some members of drug syndicates and Ilonggo sympathizers of Mabilog and other personalities offended by the current administration were reportedly waiting to “waylay” the popular police officer whatever that means.
Which reminds us of Joe Pring and Timoteo Zarcal, two charismatic and sensational Manila cops killed by suspected leftist rebels one after another in 1994.
They were at the height of their popularity and, like Espenido today, they also were accorded the “rock star” treatment by their fans.

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IT isn’t mandatory for people outside Metro Manila to have a knee-jerk reaction each time there are controversies and scandals involving misbehaving politicians and policemen in the Imperial Manila.
It is not also necessary that those living outside Metro Manila will “adopt” the fears and panic felt by the victims of these Metro Manila-based politicians and rogue cops.
Like when the Senate tackled the “ninja cops” controversy involving some members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Metro Manila.
Since the senate hearings were aired “live” on the Internet and broadcast media, they had chilling effects on people, who have fears for these types of law enforcers, all over the archipelago.
Many of these people, the so-called “promdi”, think the threats and activities of the “ninja cops” have stretched and are also happening in their regions.
Thus the good cops, who have nothing to do whatsoever with the bad behaviors of their counterparts in the Imperial Manila, are also being sideswiped by the negative publicity.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

But Joe III isn’t the one hurting

“Peace does not include a vendetta; there will be neither winners nor losers.”

–Ahmed Ben Bella

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

IF the Treñas administration thinks persecuting city hall employees who may have supported former city mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III in the recent elections is one way of getting back at Joe III, it’s dead wrong.
Joe III, now a private citizen, doesn’t give a hoot what will happen to his former employees now fighting for their lives after being orphaned by Joe III’s unfortunate defeat.
Joe III is not the type who will bend for his underlings.
The man does not understand the words empathy and sympathy.
Many observers think Joe III considers his employees to be his servants.
Thus he can’t recognize his former employees even if he bumps them in the coffee shops.
He can’t probably feel what they’re feeling today amid the avalanche of administrative raps and “investigations” launched against them.
There is a popular joke that when Joe III once went to a barangay in Jaro district, his driver, Mike, mixed himself with the crowd. Joe III, who shook hands with people in the crowd, didn’t notice he shook Mike’s hand.

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It’s been weeks since news erupted that the Treñas administration has been savagely lowering the boom on city hall employees, including some department heads suspected of supporting Joe III, yet the former city mayor has not come out in the open to issue a statement or show his support for the embattled city hall workers now being bludgeoned by administrative raps from the vindictive Treñas administration.
A true leader, even if he had been vanquished, will always look back and rescue his fallen soldiers.
A good leader does not abandon his allies even if they have been captured and threatened with annihilation.
A public show of moral support from Joe III would have been enough to assuage the frazzled emotions of city hall workers whose only sin was to be tagged as Joe III’s political supporters.
Or, he can appeal straight to Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas, who is his brother-in-law, to “please leave the city hall employees alone; this is our rivalry, not you against them. They have nothing to do with our cold war. We can resolve this conflict without trampling on the small grasses and offending the wrong people. This feud is political and only temporary.”

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I reiterate that it is not healthy, much less not good in the eyes of the world that the Treñas administration started on the wrong and unnecessary battle: the corrosive purging of “disloyal” employees, especially those who had purportedly committed an “electioneering” offense in the recent May elections.
It can’t help prop up the image of the Ilonggos in general if people in other regions and countries read in the Internet and major broadcast networks and newspapers the news about their local chief executive swapping charges in court against ordinary city hall employees.
Taxpayers’ money is wasted and used to run after members of the city hall family.
A city hall trying to create killing fields for its own flesh and blood.
The meat of the matter is too niggardly and counterproductive for a big metropolis that has already breached the threshold of economic boom.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Juncae Manikan isn’t crook

“You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.”

– ERIC HOFFER

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

MANY thieves have served in the Iloilo City Hall when I covered the beat in the late 80’s and in the 90’s.
These dishonest public servants made a pile either by directly stealing the tax payers’ money, or by using their power and influence to gain favors from private contractors and business establishments.
But there were public officials who served wholeheartedly, those who were contented only with their salary, and who never dipped their fingers in the cookie jars.
Romeo Caesar “Juncae” Manikan Jr., the ex-oficio member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod representing the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Federation in the early 90’s, was one of them.
Coy and always smiling, Manikan would rather engage in sports activities with friends than taking advantage of his position as city councilor.

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I can’t remember having written a controversial story or expose where Manikan’s name was included.
But I have written critical stories that angered some of Manikan’s senior colleagues, especially the corrupt and the egomaniacs.
Manikan, currently the head of the Office of the Local Civil Registrar, wanted to preserve the legacy of his late father, the indefatigable Treasurer Romeo “Roming” Manikan Sr.
He and his older sister, Ma. Concordia “Diday”, also a former city councilor and a former village chief in Brgy. Concepcion, City Proper, never abused their “privileges” as “Treasurer Roming’s children.”
They remained humble even if they were in power.
Those who share my observations about Juncae Manikan are also probably shocked that he is now being linked to a ridiculous fake marriage scandal.

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The fake marriage brouhaha could be a sham and is probably being used only by Manikan’s critics as a political vendetta.
It’s inconceivable that Manikan, who is holding a permanent position as a department head, will risk his good track record in public service to commit a very cheap malfeasance that can’t be kept under wraps.
If Manikan is a bad guy or someone who throws his weight around, he could have made a lot of money through nefarious means during his heydays as city councilor, and when his father was at the helm of power.
City hall will only make Manikan and his wife, Tourism Assistant department chief Eireen Rita, martyrs if it won’t stop persecuting them.
The Manikan couple and other rank-and-file employees now at the center of storm from City Hall’s wrath, are not enemies but members of the City Hall family.
They aren’t adversaries “from within.”
If politics is addition, what is going on is not only subtraction but self-destruction.
A family can’t devour its own children.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2019 in Uncategorized