BY PET MELLIZA/ The Beekeeper
The slogan painted on overpasses “Iloilo My City My Pride” tempts me to shoot a question to its author, Mayor Patrick Jed Mabilog, “what do you mean?”
He has a nice interpretation of being proud for one’s birthplace. When he installed the statue “Lin-ay sang Iloilo” atop the seven-storey city hall, ruining the purpose for which artist Ed Defensor created it, he muses pride for “my city”.
Defensor intends it for near viewing, not to be stared at miles away or seven-floors up from the ground like the Cristo of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The Lin-ay’s arms are crossed on its chest, one hand holding a scythe and the other a bushel of palay. From a distance, the crossed arms and the objects they are holding are not visible. They blend with the chest of the statue. Only its silhouette is visible from a distance. Columnist Peter J is right in re-christening it to “Maria Labu”.
Mabilog forgets that a lighting rod deserves to be installed on the roof deck. He sacrifices public safety for “my city my pride”.
The building where the statue stands is another example of Mabilog twisted sense of pride. Such sense is fatal when combined to Rep. Jerry Trenas’s uneventful nine-year tour as chief executive of Iloilo City (2001-2010).
Mabilog’s predecessor is more remembered for the P135-million housing scam at Pavia town funded from a bond flotation without having completed a single out of 415 planned housing units, and for another indebtedness, P450 million to build an overpriced City Hall Building.
Mabilog is no better either as he defied sound counsel from industry members by borrowing P260 million more instead of contenting himself of completing city hall with the P90 million which is the balance left from the P450-million loan.
Accordingly, the huge amount is needed so Ilongos can “take pride” of their city hall. We can’t imagine how frugality could be embarrassing. Mabilog’s justification for the profligate spending is as nonsensical as his line in installing the Lin-ay sang Iloilo on the roof deck.
Iloilo Press Club (IPC) president Rommel Ynion has all the right as citizen and taxpayer in opposing the profligacy. What Mabilog is throwing away is people’s money at such critical time that calls for collective frugality.
It will be people who will pay for the wasteful spending in taxes like the 100 % rise in real property tax (RPT) that the Mabilog is poised to impose.
Our councilors insist on increasing the RPT no-matter-what taxes are needed to deliver social services. No one argues with that.
However, considering that the RPT base (investments on housing, building, land development), continues to widen, RPT revenues will rise even without increasing the rate. In other words, as the number of taxpayers increases, the city council’s move to jack up RPT rates is ill advised.
If our councilors wanted taxes raised, why are they exempting big enterprises form business tax? Why they continue extending the business tax exemptions of giant malls?
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Yours truly prefers to call the strip of road along the Iloilo River just by its unofficial name “Boardwalk”. It was named after the wrong person.
Yours truly joins other countless Ilonggos wondering how in heaven or in hell has that strip of a road got to be named “Trenas Boulevard”.
We don’t intend to blacken the memory of our dear departed but certainly, streets and other public places could not just be named after any Tom, Dick and Harry.
The Boardwalk was not named after one whose first name is Buenaventura Geronimo or simply “Jerry”, now Iloilo City representative to the Lower House. First off, he is still very much alive and second, he doesn’t deserve the honor.
The Local Government Code mandates that public places can only be named after the dead, preferably, heroes or those whose lives impacted on the community. Granting for the sake of argument that Jerry already sailed to the Great Beyond, what has he done to deserve the honor to begin with?
It turned out that the Boardwalk or “Trenas Boulevard” was named after Jerry’s grandfather Potenciano who, lawyer and book writer Rex Salvilla notes, was elected to the Senate but died before he could assume his seat.