“Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” Ronald Reagan
By Alex P. Vidal
WHEN we covered the City Hall beat during the administrations of the late former Mayor Rodolfo “Roding” Ganzon (1988-1991), former Mayor Mansueto “Mansing” Malabor (1991-2001), and now Iloilo City Rep. Jerry P. Trenas (2001-2010), the clashes happened usually between members of the legislative and executive branches.
Ganzon sprayed with water the seven recalcitrant members of the City Council using the hose of a fire truck at the Freedom Grandstand.
The maverick Ganzon, a former senator, was at loggerheads with most members of the local legislature that his administration was marred by legal skirmishes and interrupted by preventive suspension orders.
He even went as far as padlocking the office of Councilor Lorenzo “Larry” Ong.
City hall could not find peace as long as Ganzon was at the helm and the seven city councilors: Trenas, Ong, Edgar Gil, Rolando Dabao, German Gonzales, Eduardo Penaredondo, Cirilo Ganzon refused to assume sycophantic roles.
Malabor and his minions in the executive office were constantly under the watchful radar of former Councilor Perla Zulueta, who is now Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog’s executive assistant for finance.
Each time firebrand Zulueta lambasted the executive office in privilege speeches and media interviews, Malabor’s blood pressure skyrocketed.
His legal chief, Atty. Mary Milagros Hechanova, always had plenty of paper works to review to save the king.
The clashes normally occurred in the name of check and balance.
It was always a healthy sign for democracy when the Mayor’s Office and the City Council were at each other’s throats and not singing a chorus when it comes to policing their ranks.
The City Council under the Trenas administration was not as adversarial compared to the previous administrations, but Trenas also had his own share of goose bumps from feisty councilors who refused subservient functions.
Today, Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog’s relationship with the City Council appears to be sweeter than real life sweethearts.
The honeymoon is expected to extend until probably their terms will expire; and the bacchanalia, so far, has not been interrupted despite veiled differences in the choices for presidential candidates in 2016.
While everything has been going on smoothly between Mabilog and the City Council, civil wars occur from time to time within Mabilog’s inner circle, involving his key factotums.
City legal chief Jose Junio Jacela got out of the kitchen when he could not anymore stand the heat after his appointment was rejected by the City Council.
The City Council rejection was not the one that wounded him most: it’s the Brutuses and Cassiuses who kept on planting thumb tacks in his back.
Until now no one can tell if Jacela and former Vice Mayor Victor Facultad, also Mabilog’s consultant, can still see each other eyeball to eyeball.
Spokesman Jeffrey Celiz’s wings had been clipped at the time when he was making mincemeat of Mabilog’s detractors.
In frontal combats vis-à-vis the mayor’s critics, no one can match Celiz.
Intrepid, brilliant and consistent, Celiz can single-handedly neutralize if not clobber all of Mabilog’s deadly detractors in debates and other verbal shootouts.
Why we haven’t heard of Celiz for awhile only the mayor knows.
Most recently it was Zulueta and City Legal Chief Daniel Dinopol who figured in a heated exchange of words in media.
So far, no heavy bombs have been unloaded. Only powder puffs and brickbats.
If the apparent cold war between Mabilog’s two top lieutenants won’t be settled soon, it has the potential to escalate into ugly proportions.