I CAN sense that beautifying the city is on the top of the to-do list of Mayor Mike Rama in his first 100 days in office. Well, who does not want a clean and beautiful city?
The mayor even ignored the objection of his patron, Rep. Tomas Osmeña, to his naming defeated Bogo City candidate for mayor Mariquita Salimbangon-Yeung as head of the body he created to beautify Osmeña Blvd.
Mariquita is a close friend and known political ally of Gov. Gwen Garcia. Congressman Tomas’s objection is therefore understandable, but Mayor Mike appears determined to pursue his beautification program.
Without relegating his beautification project to the backseat, Rama could have addressed also the city’s more pressing problems like petty theft, killings, drug abuse, bad roads, presence of beggars and informal settlers.
Before the beautification body could start its work, however, reports on the spate of killings alarmed the business community and hogged the headlines.
Petty crimes, murders, illegal drug abuse, garbage collection and beggars (young and old) in the city streets are among the concerns of the city the mayor has refused to deal with.
Instead, he was bothered more by the plan of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to retake the building that former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo converted into the Malacañang sa Sugbo.
Plaza Independencia is supposedly among the properties given to the BOC by the late president Ferdinand Marcos through a decree. But unlike Rama, the BOC does not have any interest in the park. Its immediate concern is to hold office again in their building.
The BOC is currently housed in a cramped space at the Cebu Port Authority building at the CIP area, which is far and hidden from public view. The BOC deserves to hold office again in the old and imposing Malacañang sa Sugbo edifice.
Aduana (as the structure is popularly known) is a property of the national government. City Hall has no right, therefore, to transform it into a museum or a ferry terminal as suggested by Osmeña.
There are immediate concerns that the mayor should address other than focusing on Congressman Tomas’s suggestion.
The murders that happened recently in Compostela, Mandaue and Cebu City have put the police on their toes. Now, regional police chief Lani-o Nerez has raised the number of policemen in every police station.
Even if the attempt on the life of businesswoman Debbie Yu was allegedly a case of mistaken identity, this won’t allay fears of the business sector that the killings could put off domestic and foreign investments.
Increasing police visibility on the streets, however, is a plan that is better said than done. Only few policemen have been left to do patrol work since most politicians are using them as their bodyguards.
High cost of fuel is another reason that police cars are hardly seen patrolling the streets, especially at night. Gone are the days when Cebu City, in a manner of speaking, had more police patrol cars than taxicabs.
Call this an extreme solution. But one way of fighting crime is to allow responsible and licensed gun holders to carry their firearms outside of their residence without the required permit to carry.
Armed citizens can deter criminality. But guidelines should be set and strictly implemented. Only people licensed to possess guns should carry their guns outside of their residences.