The Mad Dog Whisperer
By Ermin Garcia Jr.
THERE is a new majority in the Dagupan sanggunian. Definitely, it signals a major change in the running of the affairs of the city. Change is not altogether bad but in this case, I don’t see a chance of a change for the good. At best, it is a change to serve the political and personal financial interests of Mayor Benjie Lim, nothing else!
What happened last Monday July 9, may have been a coup but it was not totally unexpected. In fact, I had seen it coming since the Judas 9 (they who betrayed the city) scrambled without thinking to authorize Mayor Benjie Lim last April 20 to negotiate the sale of the MC Adore hotel and the Calasiao property. Since then, I knew a new majority of onor-onors was in the offing. It was just a matter of time before Mr. Lim collected IOUs from those who pledged shameless collaboration in return for their “30 pieces of silver”. And collect, he did!
The April 20 special session was, in fact, the practice run for Mr. Lim’s coup. A firm believer in the adage that every man has a price, Mr. Lim unscrupulously tested the strength of the moral fiber of each of the councilors in the majority. He baited the group with reportedly P1.5 M and it surprised him (and yes, pleased him!) that they were cheap after all. His cheap adventure resulted in hefty rewards which otherwise could have cost him plenty, what with the highly respected political names attached to the despicable deal – to sing and dance when told to.
The Judas 9 demonstrated this faithfully last July 9. Mr. Lim couldn’t ask for more!
Little did they realize that their moral character and political lineage had been forever quantified to value no more than P1.5M! (The more Mr. Lim denied the deal on their behalf, the truer the report became, and I suspect that’s exactly what Mr. Lim wants people to believe. That way, the Judas 9 will be his to manipulate until he decides to dispose of them).
What a sight it must have been seeing the Onor-onor origs (Brian Lim, Red Erfe-Mejia, Guillermo Vallejos and Chester Gonzales) holding the leashes tied around the necks of the once respectable councilors (Chito Samson, Jess Canto, Karlos Reyna, Dada Manaois-Reyna and Alvin Coquia), when they launched the final assault on the city with a song and dance routine that pleased the “Mad Dog Whisperer” in the city hall no end.
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COUPS DE GRACE. The BSL pattern for hijacking the city could not be missed.
The timing of the special session was held when it was confirmed that Vice Mayor Belen Fernandez would be out of town. The documents (this time the new set of house rules) that needed affirmative action were prepared for everyone to sign blindly. (They were already paid to do so, weren’t they?).
The new set of rules makes the vice mayor a mere titular head of the city council, and nothing else. The rules now ban her from participating in committee hearings. She cannot initiate moves to investigate any suspected wrongdoing in the city hall; she cannot even be invited to any committee hearing or deliberation.
But here’s the coups de grace for the city. There will be no more investigations or talks of irregularities and corruption in the city hall during sessions. Department heads will never be made to account or to explain reported anomalies during their watch. The legislative agenda will be decided by Mr. Lim, and Mr.Reyna, the new majority floor leader, is expected to comply to the letter like a well-trained mutt.
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LIES EXPOSED. Having read what the Judas 9 purportedly crafted, it’s not difficult to discern what prompted the coup at this time.
Vice Mayor Belen and her confused LP partymates were simply getting too close to the site where the “dead bodies” (Awai scam, proliferation of illegal gambling and illegal drug trade in the city, flawed authority to sell MC Adore and Calasiao property, illegal bidding of Tsunami Hill, illegal payment of Daongan ed Dawel project, deficient 2012 budget, wholesale peddling of premium beachfronts, etc. ) were buried. She had to be stopped!
Recall how Onor-onor son of the mayor, Brian, desperately tried to stop the appearance of the DAR official and the police chief before the council two weeks ago to respond to questions about the status of the Awai lot and peace and order problems in the city. Mr. Lim could not afford to be found lying and deceiving the city with impunity.
Then there were the 5 ingrates who after reportedly pocketing P1.5 M, appeared to have forgotten about their IOUs. The “ Mad Dog Whisperer” would have none of it! They had to be put in their proper places.
With the new set of rules in place, the Judas 9 whipped to obedience, Mr. Lim is now confident that the city will finally be controlled to the max, or so he thinks. He forgets VM Belen is still standing. She’s hurting but standing with her head high. I have no doubt the “Mad Dog Whisperer” will be madder as hell when she’s done.
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BROTHERLY ADVICE. The case of Councilor Alfie Fernandez is a curious case, certainly a cause for serious concern. As the new pro tempore, he now belongs to the majority as well, fully coopted. He has been allowed to retain all his committees ostensibly in exchange for his role as the chosen decor and deodorizer for a discredited majority.
Will the new Alfie, with his new title, be singing and dancing as well to the whistle of the “Mad Dog Whisperer? Lamentably, he cannot fiscalize unless he risks being ousted unceremoniously by his peers in the new majority. If he appears too compliant, then he also risks being lumped with the Judas 9 in no time. Not a healthy prospect for a rising credible politician.
But he might be unaware that the situation presents a possible defining moment for him as a public servant. He has the opportunity to be the beacon of hope in the endless battle for good governance should he choose to seize it. In my view, he remains the best candidate to be a true minority leader, the guy who can continue the struggle for good governance even under very difficult rules.
Maybelyn F will not hack it. She failed miserably as majority floor leader, being a habitual absentee and the first to renege on the one-for-all, all-for-one agreement of the once Mighty 8 to file a case vs. Mr. Lim. Jigs Seen is a relative of VM Belen, so anything he says or do will be suspect and may not be taken seriously.
My brotherly advice to Councilor Alfie: Resign your pro temp post and assume leadership of the minority group, the few that can be depended upon to show some grit and spunk when checking the excesses of the Lim administration. Between him, Maybelyn and Jigs and VM Belen, the city has a good chance of seeing the good victorious over evil.