“No sane local official who has hung up an empty stocking over the municipal fireplace, is going to shoot Santa Claus just before a hard Christmas.”
By Alex P. Vidal
SANTA Claus came to Iloilo City Hall just in time.
The check worth P134,927,522.63 personally delivered by Panay Electric Company (PECO) Public Engagement and Government Affairs office boss Marcelo Cacho to Iloilo City Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas and City Treasurer Jinny Hermano for its real property tax arrears on December 9 can be best described as “Merry Christmas payment.”
The gargantuan amount was timely as it could help cover up so many expenses to be incurred by the city government in the Yuletide season, including the Christmas bonuses of employees, among other year-end financial obligations.
If Santa Claus did not come to the City Hall on time, Santa Claus and his family would have lost some multi-million pesos worth of properties the city government had been preparing to auction off.
It was but a right move in the right circumstance at the right time.
As a quid pro quo, the auction had been called off and everyone was happy, to say the least.
The decision to settle PECO’s “long-overdue” (it reportedly accumulated since the past two administrations) real property tax arrears certainly wasn’t made overnight.
The Cacho family and Mayor Treñas, a long-time family friend and once-upon-a-time PECO’s legal counsel, probably had a “heart-to-heart” talk prior to Santa Claus’ dramatic show up in the City Hall on Monday.
Thus I don’t see any point why City Hall will continue to sustain its animosity with the controversial power firm now that the tax arrears have been settled.
Mayor Treñas, however, has to be fair to both the MORE Electric and Power Corporation (MORE Power) and the PECO, and will never interfere in the ongoing legal battle between the two firms.
If Ilonggos know how to read between the lines and the city mayor’s body language, they can’t make any absolute conclusion yet that the city mayor is hell-bent to abscond from its past relationship with the PECO.
ASIDE from the cash windfall Ilonggo athletes who won gold, silver, and bronze medals in the recent 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) hosted by the Philippines will get from the national government, the city and provincial government of Iloilo should also chip in and set aside special funds for these sports heroes in time for the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
We suggest that a gold medalist be given P200,000; P100,000 for a silver medalist; and P50,000 for a bronze medalist.
The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) will reportedly give P600,000 for a gold medalist; P400,000 for a silver medalist; and P200,000 for a bronze medalist.
The athletes have sacrificed so much to give our country honor, thus it is but proper that the national and local governments acknowledge their efforts and heroic performances by showering them with financial incentives.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)