>By: PET MELLIZA/ The Beekeeper
Heaps of scrap metal and driftwood dotted the lower ground of the public market when Jaime Esmeralda, MD, stepped down from the mayoral seat to assume the post of vice mayor of the municipality of Igbaras on July 1.
In two month’s time, the gold mine disguised as scraps disappeared. The new mayor, Vicente Escorpion, ordered them disposed in the name of beautification and cleanliness.
The scraps consisted of GI sheets, steel bars, railings and beddings, wood slabs, pipes, trusses and hinges among others that could value up to P2 million when sold to the junkyard and furniture shops. A dozen or so in the pile of hidden wealth consisted of lumber flitches and whole logs of century old hard wood that withstood the test of time.
When yours truly began to be aware of the public market and its environments, more than 40 years ago, the original wooden beams consisting of flitches or entire logs, were already in place. They survived the termites and the Elements, firm as ever.
A whole log would fetch not less than P500. If sewn to make into furniture, the value could reach four times, even more. Ordinary nails couldn’t dent them. One has to bore them with bolts and tightened with screw in lieu of nails.
That is the first misstep of Mayor Escorpion who bruited himself around years before the elections, and even until today, as Mr. Clean, anti-graft crusader, crusader for good government, ad nauseam.
He surrounds himself with self-proclaimed graft-busters, two of them code named Libat Uno and Libat Dos, who spread their wings around like newly awakened peacocks.
The disappearance of the pile of junks, actually wealth disguised as scraps, is grand thievery pure and simple. The explanation of Mayor Escorpion that he got rid of them for the sake of beauty and cleanliness is lame.
As public officials, the present breed of rulers of Igbaras, a mountain town 40 kilometers south of Iloilo City, should have auctioned off the pile of used metals and drift woods in a public bidding in order to ensure the highest price.
Mr. Escorpion and his ilk in the graft watch boys, namely, Libat Uno, Libat Dos, Saring and Boy Pitla-Arut, have neither right nor power to secretly dispose the scraps and help themselves to their earnings.
The money from the scraps belongs to the people of Igbaras.
Sources estimate the value of the disappeared junks to go as much as P2 million. Two million is two million. It can buy two patrol cars so the local PNP is better equipped to maintain law and order.
The same amount can erect two classrooms with furnishings of chairs, a table for the teacher and a chalk board, so Mr. Enrik Gastala, the district supervisor, needs not any more pester Rep. Janet Garin for funds.
Two million is two million. It can subsidize the high school education of 100 young boys and girls at P20,000 each for year.
Two million is two million. It can finance a footbridge over Sorsongon crossing (Brgy. Barasan) so the tragedy of October 2006 will never be repeated. To recall, cascading flood water swallowed a jeep and its passengers while the vehicle rolled across the Tangyan River.
Vice Mayor Jaime Esmeralda and the members of the municipal council better start investigating now and catch the hands that dipped into the cookie jar.
Mr. Escorpion and his ilk hissed the loudest and cried corruption when the old market was demolished to give way to the new P26-million facility financed by the Land Bank.
The structure was completed this year and it puts to shame the public markets of Iloilo City in terms structural design, plumbing, drainage and electrical systems.
The design lets in sunlight in daytime thereby reducing the need for lighting practically down to zero during the day. Natural ventilation is efficient, thus, eliminating the need for electric ventilation.
We repeat: two million is two million and we demand of Mr. Escorpion and his ilk, where did you deliver the scraps?