Finally, a complainant vs. BSL et al.?
By Ermin Garcia Jr.
HERE’S an interesting text reaction to our headline news last week.
“I do not understand why Belen Fernandez allows Benjie Lim to continue with what Belen claims as wrong doings of the Mayor. If Belen is serious with her good governance, let her file a case with the Ombudsman. Brian Lim is the only sensible politician in Dagupan. He dares everyone to file a case against his father for any wrong doing. Everybody is complaining that Benjie is corrupt, but Belen never dares file a case. Is Belen doing a moro moro? Is the Ombudsman who acquitted Benjie of all his previous cases? I am shocked that a simple budget would be returned by DBM for lack of requirement. Is that how disoriented Benjie is right now?….”
The frustration of the texter over the continued refusal of the once Mighty 8 “majority” to walk the talk is palpable, and I believe this is already shared by many Dagupeños. Unfortunately for Vice Mayor Belen Fernandez, it is the group’s inaction that has left her holding the proverbial bag, being told that the buck stops at her desk. Worse, the situation for her has become even more seemingly untenable when five of the group already showed they are willing to compromise their loyalty to their constituents for a monetary consideration just as they had done when they participated in the railroaded special session last April 27 granting Mayor Benjie Lim full authority, without question and conditions, to sell MC Adore and a housing area for city employees in Calasiao.
And, it doesn’t seem likely that the any of the Judas 5 (Onor-onors Chito Samson, Jess Canto, Karlos Reyna, Dada Manaois-Reyna and Alvin Coquia) would suddenly display the moral courage to contemplate filing a case against Mayor Lim, their new patron, (I certainly would love to be proven wrong about them and be made to eat my words but until that happens I don’t see them redeeming themselves fully).
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MISIMPRESSIONS. The impressions of the texter on three counts, however, are off-tangent: 1) Since it is VM Belen who points to Mr. Lim’s follies, it behooves her to file the case; 2) Mr. Lim is “disoriented” for failing to comply with administrative requirements of the DBM, and 3) Councilor Brian Lim is “the only sensible politician” in the city.
Onor-onor Brian, sensible? His bold dare was, in fact, an arrogant response to the complaints aired by the councilors against his father-mayor. Walang masagot, kaya nanduro! In poker parlance, he bluffed, the councilors folded.
Mr. Lim, “disoriented”? He has always been known to be calculating when making deals. I dare say that the non-submission of plans to the DBM was in fact deliberate in order to keep his hideous agenda from the city council that until that time was controlled by the once Mighty 8. It’s likely he will eventually submit the requirement as DBM ruled but only after Mr. Lim has decided on how to disguise his future deals.
Is VM Belen doing a “moro-moro”? As presiding officer, it is the VM’s duty, wearing a legislative hat, to set the agenda that need to be acted on by the council guided by the city hall’s direction. As an extension of the executive power with a concomitant role in the legislative, it is not a vice mayor’s duty, nor can it be expected, to hale the mayor to court each time an irregularity is noted. It is the council, acting as a collegial, body that fiscalizes the executive. Filing a case is an option available to the councilors who don’t have executive powers, a basic element in the check-and-balance system of government.
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VALID EXPECTATION. But having said that, it is not entirely wrong to expect the vice mayor to make a stand as a political leader and take steps to right a wrong in the system. Unfortunately, when such a situation arises, it automatically becomes suspect as being politically motivated, the VM being the direct beneficiary of a possible succession in the executive branch. My sense of it is Veem Belen is reluctant to file the case herself because she does not want to be perceived as an ambitious political animal. While this is commendable, her deference to protocol at this time is making the city utterly vulnerable to corrupt and criminal minds.
Given the complexion of the city council today, Councilors Maybelyn Fernandez, Alfie Fernandez and Jigs Seen being the last remnants of the Mighty 8, I sincerely doubt if any of the three would have what it would take to make a difference. If they did, cases would have already been filed against the mayor, the city administrator, members of the bids and awards committee, city treasurer, etc. for the series of irregularities discovered.
Absentee Ms. Maybelyn F was the first to opt out of the “one-for-all, all-for-one” pact of the Mighty 8 to file a corruption case vs. Mr. Lim. Councilor Alfie, the eldest son of former Mayor Al Fernandez, does not seem comfortable making a stand without others with him. Councilor Jigs is a relative of Veem Belen by affinity and would not likely act lest he be suspected of having acted on her behest.
Where does that leave the city? I’m afraid the fate of the city now rests on Veem Belen’s hands whether she likes it or not. Only she can make the difference now where it counts.
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A COMPLAINANT, FINALLY. But wait. Perhaps Veem Belen need not bite the bullet for now.
I just received a letter from a concerned Dagupeño who said he is prepared to make a stand for the city. Below is his message.
“The situation of our city really is very disgusting at nakakawalang gana with the presence of officials who are full of greed and still arrogant, very challenging, is there nobody dares to fight the wrong doings of these officials? If I accept your challenge I as an ordinary citizen without access to any of the facts to support the accusation do you think the Ombudsman will bother to investigate? Here I am volunteering to initiate the filing of complaint against these people. But, where will I start my complaint? Supply me with the facts and I will go directly to Ombudsman Mdm. Conchita C. Morales, these will be against all odds with the 3 G’s of Benjamin Lim. So Help us GOD.”
I have chosen to hide his identity for now until he has actually filed the complaint.
To the heaven-sent volunteer: The PUNCH can assist by linking you up with volunteer lawyers who can prepare the formal complaint. Please come to The PUNCH office for coordination. Note: All that is needed is for the complaint to be filed and you will not even be asked to testify at anytime. The pieces of evidence presented to support the complaint will suffice to guide the investigation of the Ombudsman. Any more volunteers to file other complaints?
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GOYENA CASE. In my view, the case of the gruesome slaying of 13-year student Madeline Goyena is far from being solved notwithstanding the arrest of a suspect.
The plain refusal or inability of the suspect to return a P16 k loan does not correspond to the manner she was killed any way you look at it. Hitmen riding in tandem won’t even do half as much to their targets. To stab a victim 17 times point to an assailant or a group that finds gratification in inflicting fatal injury continuously. Only suspects, whose minds were induced by illegal drugs, who went into a frenzy attacking a helpless victim would fit the bill. (The arrested suspect proved negative in his drug test).
This is a crime evidently perpetrated by drug users victimized by drug dealers whom Mayor Lim refuses to deal with iron fists. His call, therefore, for speedy solution is hypocritical since he refuses to act speedily against those who poison young minds with harmful drugs, they who end up violent and serious threats to society. Mr. Lim’s “go slow” strategy vs. the drug dealers is ultimately to blame for Madeleine’s and others’ bloody deaths in the hands of drug-users.
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(For comments and reactions, send to firstname.lastname@example.org / 09286614110 /09178257001).