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How I met Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”
–Lao Tzu

17155982_10208501843566482_1194099128936945_nBy Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — I first met Dr. Jed Patrick Mabilog in the early part of 2003 when he was introduced to me by Councilor Armand Parcon, my kumpare and former media colleague, in the ground floor coffee shop of Robinson’s Mall in Iloilo City.
I was standing when Parcon approached me and quipped, “Pre, I would like to introduce my friend, Jed Patrick Mabilog. He is from Molo (district). He can be a good material for city councilor. Let’s help him.”
Behind Parcon was a neatly dressed and pompadoured man with a soft voice. “Hi, kumusta? Ako gali si Jed (Hi, how are you? My name is Jed),” he enthused. We shook hands and talked briefly.
I was then active with the World Boxing Foundation (WBF) thus I wasn’t able to fulfill Councilor Parcon’s request for his friend other than asking my family to vote for Mabilog for city councilor.

FOUNDATION

It became moot and academic though as Mabilog, big boss of HALIGI Foundation, ran and won for city councilor in the general elections the following year, May 10, 2004.
From 2004 until 2007 when Mabilog completed his term in the city council, we never met again.
Our second meeting was in the candidates forum sponsored by Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo during the campaign period for the May 14, 2007 general elections.
I was one of the moderators in a “live” debate between vice mayoral candidates Jed Patrick Mabilog and Winston Porras, former chief of staff of Vice Mayor Victor Facultad.
Brilliant and quick-witted, Mabilog routed Porras, who happened to be my friend way back in the 90’s when Porras was legislative staff of then Councilor Victor Facultad and I was writing speeches for the late Councilor Eduardo Laczi and then Councilor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III (now the new Iloilo City mayor).
From 2007 until 2010 when Mabilog finished his term as vice mayor, I never met him again since that “live” radio debate.
Months before the May 10, 2010 elections, Mabilog, who became my Facebook friend, asked my opinion in a private message about his plan to run for city mayor against then Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez.

RECEIVE

I received Mabilog’s message while I was in Vancouver. I was totally unaware of what was going on in Philippine politics; I monitored only the news on the Internet.
The late Secretary Gonzalez and I never had a spat even if he sued our former colleague in Sun.Star, Nelson Robles, for “unjust vexation” over a series of blind items in 1996 when Gonzalez was congressman in the city’s lone district.
I answered Mabilog in the affirmative even if I doubted his chances against Iloilo City’s hitherto political Goliath, famous for tormenting his adversaries with the nerve-tingling “I will make life difficult for you” remark.
I missed the Mabilog-Gonzalez rivalry as a media practitioner; I missed the biggest election upset in the history of Iloilo City: underdog Mabilog clobbered the most powerful cabinet official of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo by a big margin.
Mabilog closed the Facebook account he was using before being elected as Iloilo City mayor (he opened another FB accounts thereafter), thus I couldn’t send a message to congratulate David.

YEARS

During the years that Mabilog was mayor for three consecutive terms until his “dismissal” recently, I was most of the time outside the Philippines.
I am probably the only Iloilo journalist who has never set foot in the new Iloilo City Hall until today (I was president of the Iloilo City Hall Press Corps for two terms–1998-1999 during the time of Mayor Mansueto Malabor).
I finally met Mabilog again and sat beside him in the cable TV show hosted by Vicente “Danny Baby Foz” at Buto’t Balat Restaurant in Iloilo City three days before the May 13, 2013 elections when I was in the Philippines.
It was the height of Mabilog’s quarrel with former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada, the man who filed the case against the city mayor in the Ombudsman that resulted in his ouster.
It was only our third physical meeting since the day Councilor Parcon introduced me to the man who would become the most abused and most harassed city mayor in the world.
I will probably meet Mabilog, an innocent man and great Ilonggo leader, again when he become congressman in 2019.

 

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Posted by on December 1, 2017 in POLITICS

 

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Bravest ever city council

“Always render more and better service than is expected of you, no matter what your task may be.”
–Og Mandino
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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — The Iloilo City Council in the Philippines led by Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon will go down in history as the bravest and the most audacious of all the past city councils.
When they passed a resolution during its regular session on November 14 “vehemently opposing the renewal of Panay Electric Company’s (PECO) franchise”, members of the Iloilo City Council made history and defied tremendous odds.
Their bold move restored the Ilonggo consumers’ faith and confidence on our city officials. It largely helped assuage frazzled emotions of tormented consumers wallowing in distress brought by PECO’s appalling services and nonchalance.
It may be recalled that their counterparts in 1993, or 25 years ago, led by Vice Mayor Guillermo dela Llana, endorsed PECO’s application for a 25-year extension after a series of public hearings in the old Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) building.

SECURE

The “joy ride” in the local legislature enabled PECO to smoothly secure the extension of its franchise in the House of Representatives thereafter.
Interestingly, Councilor Eduardo Penaredondo, the only alderman who did not support the resolution penned by Councilor Joshua Alim on November 14, was part of the 1993 City Council that handed PECO the grand prize..
PECO, the sole power distributor in Iloilo City’s more than 50,000 consumers, must’ve underestimated the City Council after it secured the November 22, 2017 date for the hearing of its application for franchise extension before the House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Franchises.
PECO’s franchise will expire in 2019.
Because of the City Council’s recalcitrance, PECO is now expected to have a rough ride when the hearing in the House Representatives unfolds on November 22. It’s like going to war bringing only high powered machine guns but without bullets.
We don’t believe that Alim, Councilor R Leone Gerochi and their ilk are motivated by “political ambitions” when they spearheaded the titanic war versus the giant electric firm.

HELP

Even before Alim became a city councilor, he was already helping the late former Councilor German Gonzales and Gerochi’s father. Atty. Romeo Gerochi, in the battle to free the Ilonggo consumers from the harrowing clutches of PECO’s atrocious generation and distribution charges in the early 90s.
Alim hasn’t forgotten that the anti-PECO crusade did not, in any way, help Gonzales when he ran and lost for vice mayor in 1995.
If Alim intends to run for city mayor or congressman in 2019, he will have to think twice before using the PECO brouhaha as a stepping stone.
If Alim is in the forefront in the war against PECO’s shortcomings, it’s probably because he wants to champion the cause of the hoi polloi, not because wants their votes in the next elections.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2017 in POLITICS

 

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Google it, kapitan

“Social media is not about the exploitation of technology but service to community.”

— Simon Mainwaring

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — We won’t be surprised if President Rodrigo Duterte will next invite detained Senator Leila de Lima to dinner after Vice President Leni Robredo.
The President might also invite in the future his chief critic Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and all those who have tasted real terror from his cussing and threats.
It’s another story if they accept the invitation.
After all, Judas dined with Jesus. Voltaire had a sumptuous meal with Catherine the Great.
The President has always been unpredictable. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.
The right had accused him of siding with the left when he allegedly made a “sweetheart deal” with Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison during the campaign period.
But when President Duterte terminated the peace talks with the rebels, their doubts about his being a pro-communist were gone.

-o0o-

LEADERS of the smallest political unit in the Philippines are in the news nowadays now that there is a proposal that instead of electing them in October, President Rodrigo Duterte intends to just appoint 340,000 of them nationwide.
The number includes both the village chiefs or barangay chairs and council members.
The proposed appointment process is facing major legal obstacles, but whether they will be appointed or elected, it’s certain, barring unforeseen circumstances, that we will have new or reelected barangay leaders before end of the year.
We suggest to all those aspiring to become village chiefs to at least study the rudiments of technology.
It may not be mandatory for them to have college degrees, but in this age, they have to be at least technology-literate. Especially those living in urban areas.
Everything is now operated by technology — communication, transportation, monitoring systems, financial transactions, among other basic necessities and services.
They can expedite their transactions and important messages to their constituents, their mayors, and the police if they are updated with the latest wonders of technology.

SERVICES

Our village leaders will be left behind–and basic services will be delayed and stymied–if they don’t even know how to use or operate a smartphone, a mobile phone that performs many of the functions of a computer, typically having a touchscreen interface, Internet access, and an operating system capable of running downloaded applications.
There are instances when village officials can’t immediately rely on their secretaries like when a visitor suddenly goes directly to them to inquire about some important information.
With the use of Google in their laptops, tablets, or mobile gadgets, the matter is addressed with alacrity and dispatch.
It’s understandable though that there are incumbent village officials in far-flung barangays, or in places with no electricity and concrete roads, who haven’t even touched a computer.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2017 in ELECTION, POLITICS

 

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Ilonggo solons not (yet) rubber stamps

“Enjoy your time in public service. It may well be one of the most interesting and challenging times of your life.”
–Donald Rumsfeld

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Even members of the Iloilo City Council are getting annoyed and embarrassed that Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog has become the most favorite punching bag of President Rodrigo Duterte each time the president unleashed his irascible wrath against some Liberal Party (LP) bigwigs.
So alarmed and disturbed were the city aldermen and women that they are now willing to help Mabilog collate the city government’s programs and/or accomplishments against illegal drugs and make a common stand.
They, too, must be hurting while seeing Mabilog reeling from absurd allegations that the city mayor, ranked No. 5 in the World Mayor two years ago, is a protector of merchants of prohibited substance.
Guided by an impermeable moral compass, the city councilors, led by Vice Mayor Jose III Espinosa, must have felt they could no longer afford to sit down and act like kibitzers while Mabilog was being pounded from pillar to post by a heavy bone-crusher.

-o0o-

We still have faith with our representatives from Western Visayas in the Philippines even if their independence was recently subjected into a microscopic sleuthing by some of impatient constituents who thought their unanimous yes votes for death penalty was a tell tale sign of their implied subservience to the Duterte administration.
As if their acid test was not enough, our congressmen and women will again be tested in at least two major issues that will soon be tackled in congress: the impeachment cases versus President Rodrigo Duterte (already filed) and Vice President Leni Robredo (still being floated).
If they reject both impeachment cases (granting that an impeachment case will be officially filed against Robredo), their constituents will never badger them. Life must go on.
Ilonggos are known to always decry any attempt to destabilize the incumbent administration. If any of the two–Duterte and Robredo–will be removed from office, a power vacuum can’t guarantee a sustained or immediate political and economic instability.

NORMAL

If government is on wobbly legs, life for Filipinos will not be normal.
Nobody would want to have this kind of environment especially if our priority is to provide our children with three square meals a day and send them to school.
If our solons will reject one impeachment and support another, their constituents will suspect that they are playing political favorites and are not taking their mandates seriously.
The Ilonggo constituents will be watching you, Reps. Sharon Garin (Ang Asosasyon Sang Manguguma Nga Bisaya-OWA Mangunguma Inc.); Atty. Jerry Trenas (Iloilo City); Richard Garin (Iloilo, 1st District); Arcadio Gorriceta (Iloilo, 2nd District); Atty. Arthur Defensor Jr. (Iloilo, 3rd District); Dr. Ferjenel Biron (Iloilo, 4th District); Raul Tupas (Iloilo, 5th District); and Maria Lucille Nava (Guimaras).

 
 

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Duterte appoints new Iloilo, Negros judges

“I love judges, and I love courts. They are my ideals, that typify on earth what we shall meet hereafter in heaven under a just God.”
–William Howard Taft

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — If I were House Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez, I would refrain from further humiliating detained Senator Leila De Lima.
In his most recent media conference, the former cabinet official of then President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo lambasted De Lima calling her as the “No. 1 drug lord in the Philippines.”
True or not, in our culture we don’t kick somebody who is already down. Especially a woman.
We never heard the same level of vitriol and angry words from past speakers like Nicanor Yñiguez, Ramon Mitra Jr., Jose De Venecia, Arnulfo Fuentebella, and Feliciano Belmonte Jr.

.-o0o-

President Duterte has appointed the following judges for the islands of Panay and Negros:
-Daniel Antonio Gerardo S. Amular (RTC Branch 35, Iloilo City);
-Oscar Leo S. Billena (RTC Branch 70 Barotac Viejo, Iloilo);
-Jose E. Mauricio E. Gomez (RTC Branch 71 Barotac Viejo, Iloilo);
-Nelita Jesusa Arboleda-Bacaling (RTC Branch 72 Guimbal, Iloilo);
-Gemalyn Faunillo-Tarol (RTC Branch 76, Janiuay, Iloilo);
-Ernesto L. Abijay, Jr. (RTC Branch 10 San Jose, Antique);
-Josefina Fulo-Muego (RTC Branch 13 Culasi, Antique);
-Phoebe A. Gargantiel-Balbin (RTC Branch 45 Bacolod City, Negros Occidental);
-Edwin B. Gomez (RTC Branch 77 Sipalay City, Negros Occidental);
-Gwendolyn I. Jimenea-Tiu (RTC Branch 60 Cadiz City, Negros Occidental);
-Reginald M. Fuentebella (RTC Branch 73 Sagay City, Negros Occidental);
-Mila D. Yap-Camiso (RTC Branch 74 La Carlota City, Negros Occidental);
-Gertrude Belgica Jiro (MTC Dumangas, Iloilo);
-Kathryn Rose A. Hitalia-Baliatan (MTC Miag-ao, Iloilo);
-Meliza Joan Berano Robite (MTCC Branch 2 Iloilo City);
-Larnie Fleur B. Palma-Kim (MTCC Branch 6, Iloilo City);
-Mark Anthony D.R. Polonan (MTCC Branch 8, Iloilo City);
-Rysty Ann C. Espinosa-Borja (MTCC Branch 9, Iloilo City);
-Joan Marie B. Bargas-Betita (3rd MCTC Malinao-Lezo-Numancia, Aklan);
-Maria Fe Macabales-Taal (3rd MCTC Patnongon-Bugasong-Valderrama, Antique);
-Joevy Paclibar Velnzuela (5th MCTC Sigma-Sapian-Jamindan, Capiz);
-Kathleen Gigante Delantar (MTCC Branch 2 Roxas City, Capiz);
-Jeeli Panaguiton Espinosa (2nd MCTC Buenavista-San Lorenzo, Guimaras);
-Bienvenido B. Llanes Jr. (MTC Pontevedra, Negros Occidental);
-Jose Meno C. Ruiz (MTCC Escalante City, Negros Occidental);
-Jose Manuel A. Lopez (MTCC Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental); and
-Maria Concepcion Elumba Rivera (MTCC, La Carlota City, Negros Occidental).

-o0o-

WE can’t blame Mayor Alex Centena of Calinog, Iloilo if his presence has been sorely missed in important gatherings like the League of Municipalities.
Ever since President Duterte mentioned Centena’s name as among those allegedly included in narco-politics, the dashing former chair of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) during the Marcos years has reportedly refused to join in various social and political events in Iloilo.
“He has become security conscious,” noticed a former broadcaster from Cabatuan, Iloilo, who is familiar with Centena’s activities during the halcyon years.
“The mayor stays in his safe house most of the time and his whereabouts can’t be ascertained even by some of his municipal staff in regular days and during weekend.”

WEIGHT

He became reclusive and lost weight, the former broadcaster added.
Centena have reportedly cancelled all his out-of-town commitments and refused interviews with reporters who come to Calinog.
Duterte has threatened to kill those involved in trafficking and manufacturing of illegal drugs, including some local government executives.
More than 7,000 have been killed nationwide since the Duterte administration launched the “Oplan Tokhang” against known drug pushers and users.
Centena has repeatedly denied links to any drug lord, but admitted slain Iloilo City-based drug lord Melvin “Boyet” Odicta Sr. once visited his house where he maintains a mini-zoo.

 
 

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Did the Ilonggo solons vote yes by heart?

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.”
–Tony Robbins

17155982_10208501843566482_1194099128936945_nBy Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — It’s a landslide.
All congressmen and woman from Iloilo and Guimaras voted yes for the restoration of death penalty.
No one wanted to be an island.
No one was willing to be a lonely voice in the wilderness.
There were no Benjamins, Dracoses, and Lycurguses.
Roman poet Juvenal onced asked: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” or “Who will guard the guards?”
The Ilonggo solons are: Atty. Jerry Trenas (Iloilo City); Richard Garin (Iloilo, 1st District); Arcadio Gorriceta (Iloilo, 2nd District); Atty. Arthur Defensor Jr. (Iloilo, 3rd District); Dr. Ferjenel Biron (Iloilo, 4th District); Raul Tupas (Iloilo, 5th District); and Maria Lucille Nava (Guimaras).

DECIDE

We hope that when they decided to vote yes, they did so because that was what their respective constituents wanted them to vote; and the affirmative vote came from the innermost chamber of their hearts.
We hope they could sustain their yes votes in Plaza Miranda, and explain to their children and grandchildren why some criminals must die after being convicted.
If they voted yes because of “peer pressure” (let’s call it Speaker Alvarez’s Sword of Damocles) or because they succumbed to Malacanang’s alleged “carrot and stick” tactics, history would be unkind to them.
We doubt, however, if anyone of them held a consultation meeting with their constituents before they cast their votes.
If they did, we believe many of these Iloilo and Guimaras solons would be hard-pressed to carry out the yes vote because many Ilonggos are totally against the death penalty.

TANGO

Because everything is now water under the bridge in as far as the Lower House is concerned, we will wait for the Upper Chamber or the Senate whether it will complete the tango or split the legislative stand on the measure being passionately pushed and pursued by President Duterte.
A total of 217 lawmakers voted in favor of House Bill Number 4727, while 54 voted against it and one abstained.
A total of 257 out of 293 congressmen were present in the voting during the final reading on March 7, 2017.
The bill seeks to allow judges to punish perpetrators of certain drug-related crimes with either life imprisonment or death. The bill allows the execution to be done either through hanging, firing squad, or lethal injection.

 
 

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After inheriting House post, Judy Syjuco faces jail term

“We inherit nothing truly, but what our actions make us worthy of.”

–George Chapman

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Was it a case of “ako ang bahala, ikaw ang kawawa?” (I’ll be in charge, you face the consequences).
If she did not “inherit” the congressional post from her husband, former Iloilo second district Rep. Judy Syjuco would have been enjoying her life as a private citizen today.
Syjuco is a wealthy woman. She looks more of a socialite than a public servant.
She was supportive of her politician husband, but was never a politician herself in her entire life until she became a congresswoman in 2004.
In fact, she did not need to run for any public office to steal and enrich herself. She could donate her salary for three years and her net worth wouldn’t suffer a dent.
Her income as a politician would be peanuts vis-a-vis her family’s income from their business empire.

RICHEST

In fact, Rep. Judy Syjuco was among the richest solons during her time.
Her trouble started when husband, Augusto a.k.a. “Boboy”, did not want the position to be grabbed by their political rivals, thus he convinced Judy to succeed him.
It was Augusto’s obsession for political power that drove Judy to enter the dirty world of politics, which was probably far from her dream when she married Augusto, a successful industrialist before he became a Constitutional Convention delegate in 1971.
Now Judy is in trouble and there is a chance she would end up in jail if she can’t wiggle out from a graft case filed by the Office of the Ombudsman.

EVIDENCE

The Sandiganbayan has ruled that the evidence submitted by the Office of the Ombudsman is enough to proceed to trial for the alleged payment of P5.9 million to West Island Beverages Distributor (West Island) for the purchase of 1,582 units of Nokia 1100 cell phones using Syjuco’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.
Payment was made despite the non-delivery of the cell phones to the intended beneficiaries–the municipal tele-centers in Western Visayas, according to the Office of the Ombudsman.
Since West Island is not an accredited supplier, it should have been disqualified from the bidding, added the Office of the Ombudsman.
“What cell phones? I never saw cell phones nor any single centavo,” Syjuco said in a statement after the Sandiganbayan Third Division denied her motion to dismiss the graft and malversation cases filed against her and 10 other individuals including former officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

 
 

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