CdeO 2013: The year of turning tides (First of two parts)

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By Nef Luczon

Pencalibur

Monday, January 6, 2014


POLITICALLY speaking, Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental did not start the year 2013 on the 1st of January, but it was after the 10th of May when the local midterm elections concluded new leaderships after quite a long time of dynastic rule.

On the 1st of July, we would witness the rise of the new Cagayan de Oro mayor Oscar Moreno, after he defeated Vicente Emano, who, despite staging an imaginary suspension order from the Department of Interior and Local Government in January that drew hundreds of supporters in front of his then purple city hall, remained futile and instead brought the ire of Secretary Mar Roxas II.

Meanwhile, the new Misamis Oriental province governor is Yevgeny “Bambi” Emano, the son of the former mayor, who also defeated former vice-governor Norris Babiera whom Moreno fielded for the Liberal Party of the said gubernatorial post.

But during the first months of their reigns (and even in the remaining of the year), the ghosts of the past kept haunting the administration of both Moreno and Emano. It appeared like they were casting stones at each other on the whereabouts of the money left in the city hall and Provincial Capitol when they assumed into office.

Adding spices to the “missing” and “unliquidated” funds from both city and provincial administrations (including the alleged “cash advances” issues), here comes the 2012 annual report released by the Commission on Audit that brought staggering information of millions of pesos that went to questionable expenditures, and not to mention the untraceable sums that only the spirits could have known where and what happened to them.

A runner-up issue prior to the election season was the expose brought by a Chinese businessman against the alleged under-the-table dealings with former mayor Emano through his councilman Adrian Barba who was infamously labeled as the “Tom Jones” singer. It has something to do with the businessman’s leasing rights on the top floor of the Carmen Public Market but later turned out to be complicated.

Money and corruption issues are two of the core offensive topics both the local Liberal Party and Padayon Pilipino politicians mouthed as they campaigned to convince the electorates.

In the end, while Moreno now sits as the local chief executive, the majority of the city council still belongs to the opposition Padayon Pilipino. The majority disapproved of some budget requests and personnel appointments made by Moreno.

Meanwhile, at the Provincial Board, the body just approved the construction of a coal-fired power plant in Villanueva town that made some civic groups in Cagayan de Oro disappointed. Vice-governor Joey Pelaez was quoted saying that it was approved because, in the first place, no one objected during its last reading in the session hall.

In a nutshell, drastic little reforms were made in the city hall and Provincial Capitol after the elections, there were attempts to de-clog the streets from unruly vehicle drivers and sidewalk vendors, but it turned out until now there seems to be some who prefer to play cat-and-mouse chase. Meanwhile in the provincial capitol grounds or the McArthur Park, purple lights are hanged in the trees like there an eerie alien planet, mesmerizing, but still eerie.

***

And then one night in late July, Cagayan de Oro was in the spotlight when an improvised explosive device exploded in the middle of hundreds of people in Rosario Arcade in Limketkai compound that later took the lives of eight people including provincial board member Roldan Lagbas, and 46 others were injured mostly medical practitioners and medical representatives of pharmaceutical companies from different parts of the country since there was a national convention held near the area.

Police investigators later identified six men behind the attack, one was identified as Usman Hapids, one was alleged to belong in an Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group, “Khalifa Islamiyah Mindanao.” But up to this date, there have been no updates as to what happened in the investigation until the rest of the nation was overwhelmed with the pork barrel scam exposes.

To be continued...

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 07, 2014.

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