Del Mar’s MCDA dream

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014


THERE was a Manunggal climb last Saturday and Sunday, that was the answer I got to the question I posed in my column last Monday: “Was there a Manunggal climb?”

Vince, who works in the Sun.Star Cebu library, continued the Manunggal tradition that I started among some of my officemates. But only a few of the old timers were with him. He mentioned only Pompe and Lope. “Pero alegre man gihapon,” he said. Balamban Vice Mayor Rosie Binghay was there, he added.

Incidentally, former Balamban councilor Dave Binghay Karamihan, who took the lead in handling the Manunggal activities for the Balamban Municipal Government from 2006-20012, sent me an email assuring me that, yes, there was a Manunggal climb. But he didn’t go there this year because of his sad experience in last year’s celebration.

“Because of politics,” he wrote, “I was barred from entering last year despite being with former senator Jun Magsaysay's advance party. We had wanted to explore different walking trails for the good senator as he just came from a foot injury a few days back.

“Upon checking out one route typically reserved for guests and local officials (I was still an incumbent councilor), for no apparent reason, they refused me from entering.

It was embarrassing. Like the Ateneo upset over my Green Archers, I can't help but feel downtrodden.

“I was able to gain access to the site only the day after when Senator Magsaysay brought me with him.”

This just shows how frayed Karamihan’s relationship is now with the family of Provincial Board Member Alex Binghay, whose son is Balamban Mayor Ace Binghay and whose wife is the vice mayor. But time heals and I am sure the rift will cool off as the years pass by.

And who knows if that will happen during one of the annual Manunggal treks to commemorate the death of former president Ramon Magsaysay in Mt. Manunggal on March 17, 1957?

***

I would give it to Rep. Raul del Mar for not letting go of his dream to create a Metro Cebu Authority (MCDA). This time around, the plan is to convert the currently existing Metro Cebu Development Coordinating Board (MCDB) into the MCDA.

I can still remember those times when the good congressman pushed for the creation of an MCDA that would encompass the entire Metro Cebu area (he said he filed a bill for the purpose three times, with the first time 20 years ago, which is also a testament to his longevity as lawmaker).

The Cebu City mayor then was Tomas Osmeña, his ally.

Del Mar’s attempts failed because concerned local government officials couldn’t transcend their own parochial interests. Osmeña, for example, flaunted his city’s economic advantage, insisting that it should play “big brother” to other Metro Cebu local government units (LGUs). He was insisting on giving Cebu City a bigger say in the MCDA.

Mayors of the other LGUs naturally resented Osmeña’s posturing. One mayor said that he didn’t want his town to end up playing the role of mere host to Cebu City’s dump site—or words to that effect. With government officials like that, the MCDA dream got shot down.

The MCDB only surfaced when LGUs in the Metro Cebu area already had different sets of officials: Mayor Michael Rama in Cebu City, Gwendolyn Garcia at the Provincial Capitol (replaced recently by Hilario Davide III), etc. Besides, the group is only for coordination and does not have functions that test the capacity of government officials to see beyond the ends of their noses.

Perhaps, the time is ripe now to realize the MCDA dream, although I am still worried as to how former mayor Osmeña and his people in the Cebu City Council will react to it. Can del Mar rein in his own political allies?

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 19, 2014.

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