Nalzaro: Friendship and our adversarial role

IN his Facebook account, businessman Marc Canton posted my previous columns that tackled issues involving the Regional Development Council (RDC) 7 like the walkout by Cebu City north district Rep. Raul Del Mar from a full council meeting and the conflict between RDC officials and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 Director Ador Canlas. Canton also posted pictures of me sitting beside Canlas in an event, insinuating that I “defended” Canlas because we are friends.

This is the same Marc Canton who organized the Movement for a Livable Cebu that opposed the construction of a flyover because his hotel would be affected. The group was used by “has-been” mayor Mike Rama to back him up in his opposition to del Mar’s flyover projects. Mike was for road-widening but never widened a road during his terms as mayor.

I admit that Canlas is a friend but we are not very close. Our friendship is like the one I have with RDC Infrastructure Development Committee chairman Glenn Soco. I used to have coffee with Glenn at his coffeeshop in IT park. When he joined ABC 5 as a newscaster, he asked me for some tips on TV newscasting. He even invited me to his recent wedding but I failed to attend. RDC 7 co-chair Kenneth Cobonpue is an acquaintance.

Their “principal,” Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino, is also a friend. Other government officials are my friends and acquaintances but they are all subject to my commentaries once an issue crops up against them. If they do a laudable act, I will praise them. That is the nature of my work. Sometimes, I play an adversarial role.

I am a public figure and I cannot reject people who want to befriend me. But we do not necessarily share the same views, ideas, opinions and stand on an issue. That is the essence of democracy and free exchange of ideas. Well, if they want to end our friendship because I commented on them, it’s up to them. Dili gyud magsakit akong tiyan. Wa man ko magpabuhi nila.

I am not acting as Canlas’s spokesman in his conflict with some RDC officials. If the allegations against him are about graft and corruption, then I am with the said officials. Give me inputs and I will expose these.

But why are some RDC officials after his neck when he is just doing his job? Because they want Canlas replaced with their own people whom they can control? My friend Glenn is asking why Canlas is still here when he is already overstaying. Glenn should address that question to DPWH Secretary Mark Villar.

But why blame Canlas for the problems in some proposed infrastructure projects? What Canlas did was merely to identify projects and submit his recommendations to his department secretary and then to Congress for appropriations. RDC, which is only a coordinating body, should not reject these projects outright.

The present RDC officers don’t know the “ballgame.” You have to live with the reality that politicians, especially members of the House of Representatives, can easily secure funding for their projects. Present RDC officials pushing for peoples’ participation in budgeting? Let see if Congress will approve it without the concurrence of the district congressman.
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