MY STINT in government started as the city public information officer in 1967 to 1971 during the administration of the late Mayor Eugenio N. Suarez. And again as city information officer in 1980 during the incumbency of the late Francisco G. Nepomuceno. I was councilor from 1988 to 1992, and again in 1995 to 1998. In the interregnum, borrowing the word of Ka Blas Ople, I served the Arroyo administration in different capacities as director of Bases Conversion Development Authority, Clark Development Corporation and Clark International Airport Corporation among others. In 2013, I again got back to the city council and ended in 2016. Long, long years of service. I can safely say that I already paid my dues to the people.
Now, I want to recall all those years when I was member of the Angeles City Council. I was dead serious in crunching numbers, studying carefully some flaws on the submitted executive budget and proposed cuts where excesses are supposed to be trimmed. It was my firm belief that we shouldn't trivialize taxpayers' money, and that there is an acute need for a transparent discussion on how the city government intends to collect from its constituents and how tax money will cascade to the benefit of each one. In those last three years at the council, I was the minority leader and got great help from Councilor now Mayor Carmelo “Pogi” Lazatin and Bryan Nepomuceno.
“We can win battles but not the war.” That was what the three of us agreed upon as a strategy each time we met for Tuesday lunch. The two young aldermen were revelations to me. Lazatin and Nepomuceno diligently worked on the numbers, scrutinized line by line the items and pinpointed where there are fats to be cut. Pogi Lazatin got the ire of some of the members for tasking each department heads to submit programs for appropriation items in the executive budget.
And during the plenary session, us in the minority fired query after query which were clearly directed for sound fiscal management, interpellation and proposed amendments, but the majority stood on their ground, NO CUTS.
Councilor Alexander Indiongco, with some help from the majority bloc including Edu Pamintuan, Amos Rivera, Jericho Aguas, Maricel Morales, Danica Lacson and Arvin “Pogs” Suller, led in circling the wagon of then Mayor Ed Pamintuan to protect any piercing from the shots we fired to bring down some appropriation items which were not supposed to be there.
The able Vice Mayor Vicky Vega presided in the caucuses and in the plenary sessions and played the role of the referee and umpire. She was the moderating voice all throughout. It’s a good thing she is now back with the gavel. Of course with different membership.
TIDBITS: Senator Manny Pacquiao made many Filipinos last Sunday proud and feel good. The braggadocio of Keith Thurman was stopped by the fists of Pacman. Another thing Pacquiao was able to prove is the old saying, “Kalabaw lang ang tumatanda.”
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno is making waves because of his relentless campaigning against illegal vendors clogging main streets and secondary roads. Moreno is lucky that his efforts are given wide exposure in media.
In many cities in the country like in Pasig, Balanga and Angeles, their respective mayors are effecting changes. Mayor Pogi has been instituting reforms, not only making the city business-friendly but keep warning city hall employees against red tape and tardiness.