In ADVERSITY, there is opportunity. So goes one favorite phrase of a media colleague.
With Mayor Edgardo D. Pamintuan or Edpam's assumption as the new chief executive of Angeles City, one could wonder as to how he could get the house in order?
Here are some of the things the Pamintuan have to contend with: P812 in debts. P600 of which is a loan for that sports complex, P63 million on garbage collection, P17 million in city hall's electricity. All of that are his inheritance from the Nepo Administration. Did somebody out there speak of legacy? Did somebody out there said "first term pa lang yan"?
Edpam is facing yet another crisis. The first one was Pinatubo's devastation in 1991. This time it is man-made and it might even be harder to surmount. One must remember that in Pinatubo's wrath, the Angelenos join hands to overcome the odds. This time, I wouldn't be surprised if some quarters row to other directions. Believe you me, critics of the Pamintuan Administration will do all they can to make him look bad in the face of an already unfavorable climate.
Lack of funds, lack of vehicles and the specter of not having the right people in the halls of city government as Mayor Edpam is left with no choice but to streamline the bureaucracy. Of course, that means removing first the JOs (Job Orders) which are mostly ghost employees 0r the 15-30s. About 3,000 of them which in the most conservative estimate costs the city government some P15 million a month.
Are we painting a gloomy scenario for Angeles City here? No, not at all.
In fairness and in retrospection, Angeles City seemed to have been "beautified", with its main roads and junction points adorned with those nice colored lamps at the rotundas. Some encroachments and illegal vendors too had been removed to ease traffic flow especially near San Nicolas Public Market. That was purely aesthetics on the outside. It is an entirely different and dirty on the inside, with the city coffers, property and resources in shambles, if not utterly neglected.
Probably just like President Noynoy, Mayor Edpam would need more than cooperation and patience from each and every Angeleno.
It will not take overnight to (re)build Rome.
* * *
In the neighboring Mabalacat town, it is entirely a different story.
While Angeles City officials must struggle to take the books out of the red, their counterparts in Mabalacat would always cite the P430 million annual budget.
With a windfall of about P150 million from the payment of Gross Income Earned (GIE) by Clark locators, Mabalacat Mayor Marino Morales could push his programs and projects with ease.
In his speech during the oath taking ceremonies, Mayor Boking reported of the usual feats in free high school and college education, along with other various social services.
The mayor is also pushing for the cityhood project which will be re-filed in Congress by Rep. Carmelo Lazatin.
With the imminent cityhood, this would mean more income for the once sleepy town.
More revenues would also require very good fiscal management. This means having the right priorities for budget allocation.
* * *
In their inaugural speeches Mayor Morales and first time Vice Mayor Noel Castro showed stark contrast of both styles and even content of their messages.
Mayor Boking - the orator that he always is - has shown his communication savvy by knowing his cadence in the delivery of speech. He picked the right moments in giving due stress points.
Vice Mayor Castro who calls me "kayong" (as my namesake) was still in his enthusiastic spirit, probably a hangover from the political sorties he made on his own as an independent candidate (he is the very first candidate to run as independent and win at that). His delivery was nothing short of powerful and emphatetic.
There's a bit of a (mis)impression I got though from Vice Mayor Kayong. It may have been wrong for him to assume that majority of the Clark workers he greeted at Mabalacat Gate during the campaign period were not from his town.
He surmised that Mabalacat residents do not have the upperhand in getting a job inside the Freeport. He based his conclusion from the 50 persons/workers (of the 1,000 he greeted) that recognized him. I would not really be so sure if that was a correct assumption nor it was the correct way to verify statistics.
For his part, Mayor Morales -in his speech -- heralded the good news of getting thousands of jobs for his constituents. He said that a sizable percentage of Clark workers come from his town.
A check at CDC records show that Mabalacat has the second biggest job share with workers in Clark as of May 2010. It has 11,372 or 19 percent of the total 57,469 Clark workers. Angeles City took a share of 21 percent while the highest of 25 percent share come from all the rest of Pampanga towns. Closest neighbor Bamban town is a far cry at 2.76 percent or 1,588 workers.
Now, I do not really know if contrasting reports were intentionally made parts of speeches of both the mayor and his vice. But one thing is for sure, this manifests a divergent and opposing view which may signal a very interesting political environment in Mabalacat.
I hope it would not be hostile though.
* * *
On Mabalacat still. What was the recent trip of members of Sangguniang Bayan (SB) to Singapore all about?
Was that benchmarking? I could not tell since I learned that part of the entourage were the outgoing members. What is there to benchmark when it included those who are no longer in the SB.
The public needs to know. It has a right to.