PAMPANGA

Sangil: Pick your council bets carefully

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THERE’S startlingly little attention by most Angeles voters on who are running for membership in the Angeles City Council. Most are focused on the three-cornered fight between Alex Cauguiran, Bryan Nepomuceno and Carmelo “Pogi” Lazatin Jr. This is one mayoral race that will go down the wire, so to speak. In the council race, I can venture some names who I believe are shoo-ins, but I won’t disclose my choices.

All the three mayoralty bets became members of the council, and I can safely say they are outstanding local legislators. Just like them, I was elected also as Councilor in different times, first in 1988, 1995 and 2013. I ran for mayor in 1998 and lost to Tarzan Lazatin. (I lost in the 2016 elections because there were three of us Sangils). No regrets. I know I performed my function to the best of my abilities. Time to hang up my gloves.

What does it take to become a member of a council? For one thing, you must have the facility of the language. Councils, assemblies and congress are debating bodies. The advocacies of a member can only be realized once he files his resolutions and ordinances, and is ready to defend it during a debate in the plenary sessions. Or just be a member of the “committee de silencio” and draw your salary paid for by the taxpayers. It’s a market place of ideas where rule of reasons should prevail. And not just standing there, holding a microphone and making a noise. It’s about governance.

This, I want to recall. It was one Tuesday afternoon in November. Then Vice Mayor Vicky Vega Cabigting banged the gavel which signaled that my motion to okay the second and third reading of my filed ordinance “Enacting the Senior Citizens Code of Angeles City” was approved. With a smile on his face he declared, “May it be placed on record that this ordinance be known also as the Max Sangil Code.” He may have said that in jest but the gallery which was filled to the rafters by officers of different senior citizens group in the city gave a thunderous applause.

Passing such a legacy measure is not really simple as some members of local legislative bodies may think. This code which is particular to Angeles City's senior citizens is giving additional benefits over and above what are already provided for by the Expanded Senior Citizens Law.

Some of the added benefits are the provision of additional 18 percent discount on senior citizens on their birthday, laboratory fees, basic medical and dental service. The provision of free and mandatory annual physical check up by hospitals. And that senior citizens be allowed to avail free entrance to theaters twice a week, and that will be during Wednesday and Thursday. Another benefit is the granting of P100,000 cash incentive to senior citizens who are 100 years old and above.

Under the Expanded Senior Citizens act, there are already existing benefits like the grant of 20 percent discount and exemption from the 12 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) specifically on purchase of medicines and other essential medical supplies. And that's to include even professional fees charged by doctors. Many benefits are already defined by law. The Angeles Senior Citizens Code only added more benefits like mandating government hospitals in the city to provide a “senior citizens” ward. The ordinance mandates the provision of a senior citizens desk and a Council for Welfare of Senior Citizens of Angeles City. There are more several provisions which were incorporated coming from amendments filed by Councilors Carmelo Lazatin Jr., Edu Pamintuan, Alex Indiongco and Amos Rivera.

In many cases, there are several complaints lodged by the senior citizens against commercial establishments, like restaurants, hospitals and drug stores. The ordinance mandated the creation of an office where legal officers will be hired to assist the complainants. The passed ordinance is now part of the local laws prevailing in Angeles City and in place are corresponding penalties for violators.

I never felt so good in my life like that day for the applauses and smiles I received during the council session, and to see all my colleagues applauding, and one by one approaching me with their warm handshakes. I knew in my heart that I didn't fail people who voted for me. Nice to remember.


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