Meet Ope and Manny
By Ermin Garcia Jr.
THERER must really be something very wrong and disgusting about the Lim administration in Dagupan for practically the whole lot of respected political families to band together to stop the MadiLIM & MakuLIMLIM slate in its tracks.
Mayor Benjie Lim’s own steadfast allies in the past are now joining the fray to boot him out principally, namely Ope Reyna and Manny Roy! (Read our frontpage story) Their battlecry “Salat! Salat! Salat!” (Change! Change! Change!) is now spreading like wildfire in the dark. The duo will yet be Mr. Lim’s worst nightmare!
Having associated with him not only as his business partners but as major political backers in the past, they went as far as describing Mr. Lim as “Pacman”, the once popular video game character who has to gather as many coins and fruits in order to survive. They gave him the moniker in the game’s negative context of having an insatiable greed.
Insatiable would, indeed, be apt. After acquiring the Magsaysay Park for the Metro Plaza (rumored to be owned by Mr. Lim), after thumbing his nose at Judge Emma Torio and hurriedly sold the MC Adore, Mr. Lim is reportedly gunning for the privatization of the Dagupan City Water District and the Dagupan Seafood Processing Plant for “special friends” (that presumably include him) and soon the construction of a P50-M primary hospital!
Need I recall here for the umpteenth time how the city lost millions in the Awai land deal, the construction of the Malimgas Supermarket, the streetlights, the use of calamity funds, dredging machine, and most recently, in the Daongan ed Dawel, the construction of the idiotic Tsunami Hill, management of the city fiestas and Bangus Festival, etc?
Salat! Salat! Salat!
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WAR IN MEDIA, NOT COURT. The war on legal cases between the camps of Alaminos Mayor Nani Braganza and Guv Spines is actually a war being waged in the media not in the courtroom as the cases suggest; a war that is leading to nowhere because both cases are obviously politically motivated. It means, throwing every possible dirt that can be dug to create the perception that the other is corrupt or more corrupt.
Under normal circumstances, once anti-corruption cases are filed, then the only thing to do is to wait for the Ombudsman to do his job. But this is not the case. Each camp is out to milk their respective cases of their media value to the last drop. In fact, the opposing camps are risking being charged with violating the sub judice rule: cases that are already under judicial consideration are prohibited from public discussion.
I have no doubt that once the votes are finally counted in May 2013, both camps will show complete disinterest in pursuing those cases.
So far, the only silver lining I could deduce from the polluted political air emanating from both camps are: 1) Guv Spines is leading the “I love Pangasinan” campaign caravan and his projects are reaping awards and 2) Mayor Nani rescued an OFW townmate from an abusive employer in Jordan and his environmental projects are proving to be effective.
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COURAGE AND INDEPENDENCE. Dagupeños have a lot cheer to about the demeanor of the two lady regional trial court judges in the city. Courageous would be an understatement to describe them.
Both Judges Genoveva Maramba and Emma Torio dared to defy the pressure from the city hall to allow the latter to have its way with the city as it deems whimsically.
Judge Maramba did not hesitate to uphold the position of the Lyceum Northwestern University in fending off a demand from Mayor Benjie Lim et al. that it and other colleges should pay business taxes on the basis of a defective ordinance. And for a good measure, she dismissed the motion asking her to inhibit after she has decided on the case.
Judge Torio, on the other hand, deemed it urgent to issue a preliminary injunction against Mayor Lim et al. in selling the MC Adore properties in spite of a warning from city hall that an injunction would in effect sabotage Mr. Lim’s “development plans” for the city.
Three cheers for the independence of the judiciary in Dagupan!
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COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE. Speaking of the injunction case, there is, however, one element in Judge Torio’s decision that could prove to be counter-productive in the campaign against corruption.
The judge’s requirement that a P50-M injunctive bond (costing P2.5-M) be filed by petitioner, Ryan Ravanzo, for the preliminary injunction to take effect could have a chilling effect on would-be whistleblowers. While the requirement may be imposed as dictated by law in such cases, there is a need for our courts to qualify and to make a distinction between commercial disputes and governance issues.
Mr. Ravanzo, as the petitioner, certainly has no pecuniary interest in the Judas 9-aided sale of the MC Adore but only motivated by good citizenship to stop a process that was irregular and would lead to permanent injury to the city.
If the rule for injunctive bonds is not further qualified, there will be no more Ravanzos or whistleblowers that will dare raise hell before the courts to stop massive corruption in towns and cities.
Even if Mr. Ravanzo has the wherewithal to secure a P50-M injunctive bond (which I seriously doubt), it is unfair to make him cough up P2.5-M to protect the city’s interests. Would anyone give up his personal P2.5-M just to prove himself right about his observation that public officials violated the country’s anti-graft and corruption law?
What it would lead to instead is an opportunity for would-be grafters to make a counter-offer of P1.5-M to silence the petitioner! (Fortunately, Mr. Ravanzo is unlike his fellow Jaycees among Judas 9 who could be tempted with a P1.5-M bribe).
Mr. Ravanzo’s lawyer, Atty. Borromeo Bustamante, will do this nation a favor if he could seek the court’s reconsideration to amend its decision withdrawing the injunctive bond requirement invoking the commendable motivation behind the petition.