WHENEVER anybody visits a town or city, it can be said for that moment, that person instantly becomes a part of the constituency. I have my favorite places in Pampanga. The one that comes first is Angeles City where I served as a member of the city council in three different terms, (meaning not in succession). I even served as mayor in 1998 as a result of a succession rule then. As elected number one councilor, I took the reins of the city government for almost four months.
My second favorite is my hometown of Porac. There I spent my childhood. It’s where I took my elementary education until graduation from high school at St. Catherine Academy. Third is the City of San Fernando, the capital of the province. I love it even more when it was yet a town. I knew it since the late dentist Jose Quiwa was the mayor. I wasn’t even in my twenties then and was just honing my writing skills.
My eldest sister Zenaida got married to Antonio F. Consunji who lives in an old house on Consunji Street besides the old house of the Lazatins. I often made visits there. My sister Myrna married also a Fernandino and established a residence there. I used to drop by and had breakfast there in the early years. I am somehow attached to the town. My in-laws are residents of the city.
There were notable chief executives who served with distinction San Fernando. Many Fernandinos still remember the likes of Levi Panlilio, Amante Bueno, Baby Sanchez, Dr.Rey Aquino, Oscar Rodriguez and the controversial Armando P. Biliwang in whose time the dissident movement in the province shattered the remarkable peace and order experienced in the fifties and very early sixties.
At the helm today is Edwin Santiago who comes from the ranks of the working class. He served as vice mayor and became mayor when then Mayor Oca faced Dong Gonzales in a congressional race. Gonzales prevailed. Mayor Oca provided an open lane for Santiago aka EDSA for an easy win in the mayoral contest. Not much has been reported on what was accomplished in Santiago’s three terms. But it cannot be said that Santiago is not trying. (I will be happy to acknowledge in my succeeding columns on what legacy Santiago would like to be remembered when he step down from city hall).
Just last week, last Wednesday to be exact, the members of the city council, two of its members Councilors Nelson Lingat and BJ Lagman pushed for accessing a half billion peso loan to rehabilitate the old market which is in front of the city hall and near the Catholic cathedral and the SM downtown. If ever the measure to borrow funds for the market rehabilitation will be realized, it is to my mind that the more than half billion pesos is too much for its rebuild.
If I recall it right in one of the local public affair shows Mayor EDSA declared that there will be no loan to be accessed for the market rehabilitation. He said the funding will be sourced from the national government. That was the promise he made. Now here’s a good chance for the Fernandinos to remember him by shooting down the efforts of the sanggunian in drowning the city into debt.
If the national government or whoever made the election promise in providing the funds reneged just because of so-so reason that the city government is capable on its own etc., well then the second course of action definitely is not to borrow a huge amount and bury the city into a huge debt. I think even Lingat, Lagman and company can reconsider their moves.
Place the issue on a more open discussion and for a larger audience and not on limited participants. Let the sanggunian conduct another public hearing on a larger venue like the LausGroup Event Centre and invite well-meaning residents, particularly businessmen, minus the political wards. Let’s see the result.