Tag Archives: Iloilo City Council

Will Mabilog ‘save’ city hall execs in market mess?

“A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.” Arnold H. Glasow

By Alex P. Vidal

HITLER defended his controversial personal physician, Theodor Morell, from Nazi intriguers when they tried to link him in the aborted assassination of the Der Fuhrer on July 20, 1944.

Will the world’s number five city mayor, Jed Patrick Mabilog, also defend Iloilo City administrator Norlito Bautista and former Local Economic Enterprise Office (LEEO) chief Vincent dela Cruz?

Bautista and Dela Cruz could not be victims of intrigues like Morell as it was the City Council committee on slaughterhouse and public markets chaired by Rodel Agado that is poised to recommend the filing of raps against them for the alleged rackets at the Iloilo Terminal Market or popularly known among Ilonggos as “super.”

The committee conducted several hearings and invited key witnesses and parties involved before coming up with a decision to hold the two officials accountable.

The hearings uncovered, among other irregularities, the unauthorized use of job hires and employees to collect rental fees and issue receipts and other accountable forms to market vendors.


Councilor Plaridel Nava said the full details of their investigation will be revealed this week.

Ribbed in the media for being a “rubber stamp” of the mayor’s office, Agado and Nava are beginning to let their critics eat their words with their bold decision to throw the books on two of Mabilog’s minions.

Mabilog may have already been tipped off of the committee’s move against two of his trusted lieutenants, and must be willing to subject them to any disciplinary action if evidence will warrant.

The city mayor is aware that prematurely absolving Bautista and Dela Cruz of any culpability in the market fiasco is not the logical step at this stage.

He is expected to let the chips fall where they may and respect the city council’s recommendation against his two underlings as a co-equal branch in government.


ILOILO cable TV host Vicente “Danny Baby” Foz, Jr., and former scribe and now Iloilo capitol employee Nelson Robles share contrasting stories.

While Good Samaritans led by Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog came to Danny Baby’s rescue when the latter was fighting for his life after suffering from stroke at the intensive care unit (ICU) of the Iloilo Doctors Hospital on January 15, Robles is hard-pressed to look for cash needed for his “immediate” operation for prostate cancer.

The two met at Madge Café in La Paz Public Market in La Paz district, Iloilo City on Friday and shared their respective plights.

Danny Baby: “First of all, I would like to thank Mayor Mabilog for visiting me three times during my confinement (from Jan. 15-29) despite his busy schedules. I understand that his schedule was full because it was a Dinagyang festival week.”

Danny Baby said he was at Amigo Terrace Hotel at around five o’clock in the afternoon on January 15 when he felt a pain in his abdomen and he couldn’t breath.

He was rushed to the hospital. Nurses called people listed in his cellular phone. First to arrive were fellow cable TV hostess Tonette Toledo and Manny Alcalde. Panay News managing editor Herbert Vego and DPWH Engr. Mario Castillano also came.

Danny Baby, 52, said Tonette texted Mayor Mabilog, who immediately sent political affairs consultant Ariel Castaneda “to fix matters.”

Rizal–Lapuz village chief Releo Lumayad and Jalandoni Estate, Lapuz village chief Efren Gimeo also arrived one after the other.

Among those who also extended help, Danny Baby said, were Rep. Jerry Trenas, Councilor Lex Tupas and contractor Jojo Ang. “I thank God because this is now my second life,” he intoned.


Robles, 64, said he learned that he has a prostate cancer only last January 5 when result of his biopsy came out.

He underwent biopsy examination on December 22, 2014 conducted by Dr. Raul N. Sancho.

“My cancer is stage one,” sobbed Robles.

He said he needed immediate cash so he can undergo a nuclear bone scan “as soon as possible” before the operation which, he said, is scheduled in April.

“I’m only a capitol employee. I’m alone now (his wife, Zenaida, a public school teacher in Oton, Iloilo, died several years ago) and my three children are not anymore living with me. I might die if I can’t raise the needed amount for my operation,” teary-eyed Robles lamented.

“To tell you honestly, I’m getting desperate right now and I’m waiting for my children to at least get in touch with me. I missed them so much. I want to see them before everything will be too late.”

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Posted by on February 20, 2015 in NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!, POLITICS


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Illegal Jaro plaza vendors: Are you talking to us?

“Uncertainty is a very good thing: it’s the beginning of an investigation, and the investigation should never end.”  Tim Crouch

By Alex P. Vidal

THE task of clearing the sidewalks of Jaro district plaza of illegal or ambulant vendors falls on the office of Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, not with the city council.

Instead of bellyaching, city councilors should leave the matter to the city mayor’s office.

The city mayor’s office implements ordinances.

The city council enacts them.

The city council can’t usurp the powers of the executive office, vice versa.

Councilor Joshua Alim said they will investigate reports that illegal vendors were allowed to erect stalls on the sidewalks of the plaza during the Jaro Agro-Industrial Fair after paying certain fees, which, he said, was illegal.

Only registered stalls inside the plaza were allowed and authorized to pay rental fees, etcetera.

The city councilors, receiving complaints from legitimate stall owners inside the plaza, wanted to know who’s behind the racket.

Three council committees will spearhead the investigation after the February 2 district feast of Jaro’s Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, Alim said.


These committees are: tourism, culture and historical affairs headed by Councilor Nielex Tupas; good governance headed by Councilor Jason Gonzales; and barangay affairs and community development headed by Councilor Carlos Guarin.

What for?

Any step made by city hall authorities after the event would be moot and academic.

The “crime” has been consummated.

Illegal vendors won’t give a damn about any council investigation to be held after they have served their purposes.

They can even snub it.

When city hall first heard that illegal vendors were being allowed on the sidewalks of Jaro plaza in exchange of unauthorized fees in January, Mabilog should have ordered a team to drive them away.

The demolition should have commenced before the Jaro fiesta or the start of the agro-industrial fair.

If stalls of ambulant vendors are demolished by city hall only after the fiesta or the holding of the agro-industrial fair, city officials will look stupid.


Illegal stall owners will loudly tell city hall: “thank you for the free services.”

But the city mayor’s office has been mum over the furor.

It was only the city council that made a lot of noise, threatening to hold a committee investigation to determine who’s at fault.

The vendors were reportedly allowed on the sidewalks after paying P200 to the Special Services Unit of the city government for P200.

They vendors also paid P30 per light bulb to a light contractor. An organization also charged them as much as P4,000 to P5,000 per stall without any receipt.

Based on these tips, city hall should have started clamping down on these illegal vendors and the illegal transactions involving some organizers as early as last month.

The issue here is corruption.

Somebody made money out of the presence of these eyesores within the belt line of the plaza.

While nobody from the city mayor’s office is aggressive enough to identify and punish the scoundrels, some city councilors consider the issue an urgent matter.

Thus they will investigate after the smoke has disappeared.

In Tagalog, they have this popular aphorism: “Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo.” (The grass is useless if the horse is dead.)

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Posted by on February 3, 2015 in POLITICS


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Councilor Penaredondo is ungrateful to the vendors

“Does not the gratitude of the dog put to shame any man who is ungrateful to his benefactors?” Saint Basil

By Alex P. Vidal

In Spanish and Hiligaynon, they call it “ingrato” or ingrate.
When Iloilo City Councilor Eduardo “Ed” Penaredondo was wooing the votes of the hoi polloi or the masa in the previous local elections, he frequented the public markets, shook hands with the vendors, as well as the market goers.
He smiled at everyone he met.
To show their goodwill, market vendors gave him overwhelming votes and all-out support, thus Penaredondo, a lawyer and former policeman, became a city councilor for several terms under four city mayors – Rodolfo “Roding” Ganzon, Mansueto “Mansing” Malabor, Jerry Trenas, and now the incumbent Jed Patrick Mabilog.
In fact, he holds the record of being the longest-serving city councilor since 1988.
Penaredondo has been an outstanding city councilor; perhaps, one of the sharpest minds to ever grace the Sangguniang Panlungsod in Iloilo City.
In all the years that we have covered the City Hall beat since the time of the late former Mayor Rodolfo “Roding” T. Ganzon, we considered Penaredondo as one of the towering figures in the local legislature along with now Rep. Jerry P. Trenas, the late German Gonzalez, Dr. Perla Zulueta, Atty. Cirilo Ganzon, Atty. Rolando Dabao (despite his drinking habits), Fiscal Jose Junio Jacela, Dr. Tongtong Plagata (despite his temper), to mention only a few.
Until now, we still hold Penaredondo in high esteem.


We respect the man; we respect his authority.
But when he called the vendors of the Iloilo Central Market as “shits” and agitated to “drive them away with scud missiles”, he shot from the hips and was out of the bounds.
He became ungrateful to the sector that supported him as a politician.
His actuation during the council’s regular session last December 9 was also conduct unbecoming.
Penaredondo’s boisterous attitude and recklessness leave a bad taste in the mouth.
By justifying the cuss remarks as “just a matter of using metaphors and hyperbole to strengthen my argument”, he added insult to injury.
“Shit”, a hyperbole, perhaps; but a metaphor, sir?
What Penaredondo needs is a civil tongue, or a language that is not bogged down in jargon, not puffed up with false dignity, not studded with trick phrases that have lost their meaning.
In other words, watch your language!


Councilor Plaridel Nava was right to call the attention of the most senior alderman that he was hitting the vendors south of the border, and his foul words should be stricken out of records.
We credit Vice Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III for agreeing with Nava, their fellow lawyer.
Penaredondo and some of his colleagues were apparently peeved at the vendors, led by Rex Donasco, for not supporting the terms of reference (TOP) on the proposed revitalization of the Iloilo Central Market.
The vendors earlier snubbed the public hearing arranged by the City Council inside the public market for the TOP.
We doubt if Penaredondo’s hostility towards the vendors would be the same if they were dealing with Calle Real businessmen in coat and tie.
We doubt if his indifference and loud mouth would be more pronounced if they were dealing with the church authorities and other powerful and influential sectors in society that disagreed with them like what the vendors had shown in the TOP fuss.

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Posted by on December 12, 2014 in POLITICS


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Interesting ‘conflicts’ in City Hall

“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.

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Posted by on December 3, 2014 in POLITICS


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Boy Mejorada didn’t deserve it

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” Harvey Fierstein

By Alex P. Vidal

IF they call it a mortal sin, the only fault of Manuel “Boy M” Mejorada was he made a sweeping statement that Iloilo is a “bird’s nest of corruption” in the recent Senate blue ribbon committee hearing in Manila.
Columnist Wenceslao Mateo called it as “probably a slip of the tongue.”
His other “sin” was he dared but failed to topple the Goliath, considered as the most powerful and influential political demigod in the country next to President Noynoy Aquino and Vice President Jejomar Binay when he fell short during the senate inquiry with his most important ammunition: evidence. (It’s too early to celebrate though since the Goliath is still facing a plunder case in the Ombudsman).
But this does not make Mejorada an unworthy person that would warrant a declaration of persona non grata or unacceptable person from the Iloilo City Council.
Mejorada is intelligent and old enough to defend himself amid the barrage of ridicule and scurrilous verbal and written assaults he has been getting from those agitated by his “bird’s nest of corruption” allegation, thus I am not defending him as if my next meal is at stake in this issue.


In declaring Mejorada as persona non grata, the City Council may have committed overkill and abuse of authority.
Or they may not have done their homework and shot themselves in the foot as a result.
The issue here obviously is political. They don’t like Mejorada’s adversarial fulminations and they hate his guts.
But with all his shortcomings and imperfections, I have not heard of any instance that Mejorada has brought shame to the Ilonggos.
Feud with politicians in defense of his political patrons and media colleagues yes, but they weren’t in the level of demagoguery.
But I have witnessed how he brought honor to the Ilonggos and how he made many of his fellow journalists proud of him.
Former Iloilo Governor Neil D. Tupas Sr. would not hire him as provincial administrator if he was a flash in the pan or a fly in the ointment.
It was Mejorada’s exclusive article in the Asiaweek, an international magazine, in 1985 that prompted the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to help hungry kids in Negros.
He was the first president of the Iloilo Press Club (1990-91) to be sworn in by no less than the late former President Corazon C. Aquino (I was a member of the IPC board).
Mejorada was the first outstanding fellow of the UP-Diliman College of Mass Communications-Konrad Adenauer Foundation-sponsored Graciano Lopez Jaena Community Journalism Fellowship in 1989 together with Diosa Labiste, a Magsaysay awardee for journalism and now UP-Diliman faculty member.
Only the best community journalists in the country are chosen to the Graciano Lopez-Jaena fellowship.


Mejorada was the first and only Filipino back-to-back fellow in the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1991-1992.
No Filipino or Asian journalist for that matter has duplicated his feat in the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, where some of the best broadcast, TV and print journalists in the world hone their skills.
This was the man they brought to the guillotine and burned at stake for speaking out his mind, for sending a thunderstorm to the establishment; and for saying what others would not dare say before a nationally-televised “live” conference.
“I may not agree with what you said, but I will defend to death your right to say it,” Voltaire once said.
I may not agree with Boy Mejorada, my senior in community journalism, on many issues including some of his political statements, but I will defend to death his right to say them.
His rights to freely express himself about political and social issues are not only protected by the Bill of Rights of our Constitution, they are also enshrined in the Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to wit: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”


The powers vested upon members of the legislative body cannot overrule these paramount rights.
They are buttressed by the doctrine that no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of the press and expression.
Because he went to the senate inquiry as a “former provincial administrator”, only few people knew that he really was, and is still an investigative journalist, thus he was pilloried and sneered at for mentioning that he is an investigative journalist who happened to fancy the Wikipedia.
A journalist, driven by passion and a clarion call for public service, will forever be a journalist.
Mejorada’s knack for investigative journalism did not end when he joined the government service first as Tupas’ executive assistant and subsequently as provincial administrator.
So many politicians, military officers and even members of the church and judiciary have openly and scandalously brought dishonor and shame to the city and province of Iloilo in the past, but they were never declared persona non grata.
Not even a rap in the knuckles.
Councilor Eduardo Penaredondo, a lawyer and the most senior member of the city council who authored the resolution against Mejorada, sounded like a dimwit and hypocrite when he asserted that because of Mejorada’s statement in the senate inquiry investors will now avoid Iloilo.

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Posted by on November 19, 2014 in POLITICS


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