By Pet Melliza
ILOILO CITY (26 November 2011) — Transparency and public accountability are the last virtues that the administration of city Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog cherishes.
These are the common observations of today’s resource persons at Kape kag Isyu have of the current management of city hall.
Lawyer Roming Gerochi and Ted Alvin Ong, two leaders of the NGO Freedom from Debt Coalition, note that while they raise legitimate issues Mabilog instead answer them by fielding barking dogs hitting them personally.
“As public officials, Mayor Mabilog and the utility worker-turned-mouthpiece Jefrey Celiz should be reminded that they are publicly accountable,” says Gerochi.
“I know Jefrey Celiz back in our student days,” recalls Ong. “From activist of the people, he mutated into activist of politicians particularly (Rep. Jerry) Trenas and Mayor Mabilog.”
Gerochi, Ong and another critic Manuel Mejorada came under personal attacks in the social medium and internet blogs recently when they scored Mabilog for double speak. The FDC is currently intervening in the petition filed by the National Grid Corporation (NGCP) to buy the transmission line and transformers of Panay Energy Development Corporation (PEDC) that owns the coal fired power plant in Iloilo City.
Mabilog had vowed to oppose the deal warning it would jack up power rates by P1 per kilowatt-hour. However, none from city hall attended the first hearing that constrained the Energy Regulatory Board to declare the city government “in default” that is, it has lost standing in the administrative tribunal.
The FDC does not entirely oppose the NGCP-PEDC deal only that should NGCP impose the P1 kw-hour charge, a corresponding amount be deducted from the generation charge due to the reduction in operating, capital outlay, and maintenance costs that benefited PEDC.
“The entry of NGCP would benefit consumers because that opens Iloilo City to other power suppliers to compete with PEDC,” notes Gerochi.
Manuel Mejorada, a TV host and columnist has been scoring the Mabilog administration for “lack of transparency” and “profligacy” in spending taxpayers’ money. He has recently charged the mayor before the Ombudsman for “unexplained wealth”.
Celiz and anonymous accounts in the social medium and web pages, have been villifying Mejorada, not through full length opionion pieces that he does to Mabilog, but through a few liner, or epitaphs that scream slogans typical of ex-activist Celiz, calling names, and digging bones of critics.
“When I read their blogs, I get angry but instead of zeroing on them, I hit back at their paymaster, Mayor Mabilog,” explains Mejorada.
One issue that Mejorada continues to hound Mabilog with is the overpriced city hall building still being constructed on a P750-million budget, part of that, the lastloan worth P260 million to finish the P450-million six-storey skeleton he inherited from his predecessor now Rep. Jerry Trenas.
“There is no transparency here,” stresses Mejorada. “First, Mabilog regaled us with nice statements that he would subject the P260-million project to a public bidding. Before we know it, he pushed for and succeeded to have the completion of the building done by negotiated contract which is illegal.”
The resource speakers rebuttal to Mabilog’s barking dogs biting them, not on issues but on their alleged personal shortcomings: “We are private citizens, we are not accountable to you. To the contrary, Mabilog and Celiz, being public servants, are our servants and must account for the actions.”