The new onor-onors “30 pieces of silver”
By Ermin Garcia Jr.
BEFORE I get to the tale of the mother of all corruption circa 2012, I wish to share an urgent email message from Los Angeles-based Dagupeño Rex Catubig about a crisis that has hit home. As the Catubig family is well-loved and respected by many in Pangasinan, I thought it fitting that I share Rex’s email (with his permission) in order that Pangasinenses may have the opportunity to express their support for his elder brother, Louie, a former councilor of Dagupan, through prayers.
“Hello dear friends,
What we dread the most has come to our doorstep. My elder brother Louie has just been diagnosed with terminal-stage cancer. He’s been given 3 options for treatment none of which could reverse the disease but merely stem its fast spread. So what medical science cannot do, I believe the power of faith and prayer can.
Please favor him with a little fervent prayer. Who knows what miracle it could spawn? Maybe not a miracle of life but of life everlasting.”
Time to storm the gates heaven with prayers for Louie C!
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NEW SET OF ONOR-ONORS. Now to the truly appalling affairs of the Dagupan City Council.
While the Dagupan residents were busy tending to their affairs to survive, a group of charlatans with the title “Honorable” affixed to their names, reenacted a scene of the last days of Jesus Christ before he was crucified, with a twist.
After appearing to be in solemn prayer invoking God’s presence and guidance at the opening of the “special” session called by Mayor Benjie Lim, the group quickly turned around to mock the Almighty Lord’s presence by going through a token session (lasted 5 minutes) to adopt a resolution that that would rob the city of millions.
The new set of onor-onor councilors, all nine of them, gamely sold Dagupan City for their own 30 pieces of silver! It didn’t matter to them that they used God’s name in vain.
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Remember their names: Onor-Onors Jess Canto, as acting presiding officer; Karlos Reyna, as acting majority floor leader, Dada Reyna, Chito Samson and Alvin Coquia, all of the once upright Mighty 8, and now the core members of a seedy group called “ Divided by 5” that cheerily joined the onor-onors in the minority, namely: Onor-onors Brian Lim, Red Erfe Mejia, Chester Gonzales and Guillermo Vallejos to sell their souls to the devil.
(My sources say P1.5 M for each was the enticement for four councilors attending a masteral seminar on good governance to rush back to Dagupan from Makati to ensure a quorum. Will Onor-onors Dada, Karlos, Red, Alvin care to show their bank accounts? I wonder what was promised to those who did not have to travel to vote? Same-same? Bank accounts, please!).
The cabal authorized the fire sale of the Mc Adore hotel property to a buyer (reportedly for P68 million) ostensibly for the city’s priority development projects. What they are not telling unsuspecting Dagupeños is that the city could have earned at least P300 million if the bidding process as required normally by law would be observed. A city hall insider estimates that some lucky people will be pocketing at least a cool P2 M from the negotiated sale! I wish my source can be proven wrong.
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To the group’s credit, they adopted extraneous means to be able to sell their souls hoping that the deal would only be known between them and Mayor Benjie! Tsk-tsk.
Note that the “special” session was called and set for last Friday knowing that Vice Mayor Belen Fernandez would be out of the country. The meeting was set at 10 a.m. but since no quorum could be mustered, old reliable sidekick City Administrator Vlad Mata went on air denying that the letter request for a special session was ever sent to the SP. The new alibi in the city hall when convenient is: The mayor’s signature was forged! But soon as the presence of the “Divided by 5” was confirmed, the alibi was brushed aside and the meeting was officially reset to 3 pm. But the councilors were nowhere to be seen until after 4 pm. After seeing them march into the session hall like vultures getting ready to feast on the city’s carcass, they quickly retreated to the SP conference room when they spotted my presence in the gallery. (I had nothing better to do that afternoon so I decided to see for myself how the scent of millions of pesos can easily corrupt our city officials). It took them another hour to finally decide behind closed doors on the final script for the zarzuela they planned for the city. Aken kasi?
As I had expected, Onor-onor Samson shamelessly moved to adopt the resolution that Onor-onor Karlos Reyna read out. And like hungry hyenas, they all yelped “Second the motion”. And did anyone object? Not on your life. The trappings of a “Divide it by 9” policy were all too evident. The obscene chorus was the cue for Onor-onor Canto to bang the gavel and affirm the vote. There being no other opportunity for a “Divide it by 9”, the session was quickly adjourned!
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I accuse the new onor-onors of hypocrisy and dereliction of duty having blatantly violated their oaths to the people “to serve the city to the best of my ability.” Now I understand fully what Mr. Lim’s policy of “shared responsibility” means in the context of corruption.
This was the same council that blocked the initial attempt of Mayor Lim last year to sell the McAdore property for a song. But last Friday, the same council unanimously rushed to grant Mr. Lim the carte blanche to sell at any price, with no further guidance and terms attached! One can only imagine what the “consideration” was to sell the city blind.
What I can imagine is the onor-onors’ deceased parents and grandparents turning in their graves after decades of dedicated service to the city having witnessed how their children and grandchildren shamelessly brought dishonor to their names last Friday. Then, I only have nothing but sympathy for the surviving parents whose hallowed and respectable names in the community have been deliberately besmirched by the obvious greed of their grown-up children for a share of the same “30 pieces of silver” that led Jesus Christ to the cross.
No, it was not a case of betrayal by the “Divided by 5” group against their colleagues in the once Mighty 8, nor against Vice Mayor Belen. It was a betrayal of the trust reposed in them by the people who voted for them. I surely hope the “consideration” is well worth losing their honor and integrity.
As for the onor-onors in the minority, they have long been given up for lost in the fight for governance. That’s between them and the devil.
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THE NEW MAJORITY. Now that the onor-onors are now in the majority, I guess it’s no longer farfetched to conclude that Messers. Lim and Mata will no longer be investigated for their alleged involvement in the illegal distribution of premier beachfronts at the Tondaligan and their refusal to authorize the demolition of illegal business structures in the area; the illegal construction of the Daongan ed Dawel facility, the lost ownership of the San Jacinto property, and the continuing illegal disbursement of funds from the city coffers. Kaskasian lay Dagupan!