Wednesday, 13 August 2014 11:35



SAN FRANCISCO, CA.— The question of who’s funding the terrorists begs a truthful answer. Who’s funding ISIS in Iraq? Who’s funding Hamas in the battle against Israel? More importantly, who’s funding the terror groups in Mindanao? Where do they get their money to buy arms, bullets and other weapons of destruction? They can’t resort to kidnapping all the time, can they? Will we ever be safe from terrorists who strike with impunity, killing innocent civilians, burn down homes and take hostages for ransom?

There should be bolder steps to be taken by authorities to address this issue which is not confined to Mindanao alone but tied up in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world. There is no guarantee that peace will finally prevail in Mindanao if and when the Bangsamoro entity is created to replace the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Zamboanga’s position, taken 20 years ago, of not being included in the Bangsamoro government, is not the main concern of Zamboaguenos anymore. What should worry us and Congressman Celso L. Lobregat is what happens after the formation of the reconstructed ARMM, granting that its existence is ratified by the people concerned? They must be able to look beyond ratification.

Zamboanga has been isolated since the mid-70s. We didn’t get any help from the central government because we were always an opposition city, until now. We got a few good deals from President Ramos with the creation of the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority and Freeport and his declaration making Zamboanga the “Industrial City” of Region 9. With President GMA, our seaport was expanded during her transition government. But when she felt betrayed after overwhelmingly losing in Zamboanga to the late Fernando Poe, Jr., she immediately ordered the transfer of the regional center to Pagadian City. It would be nice to note that then Mayor Celso Lobregat filed his certificate of candidacy as Lakas, the party that PGMA belonged.

We got a push from President Joseph Estrada when he sold the CDCP complex in Pettit Barracks to the city for a song. That place is now what we call “Paseo del Mar”, our tiny version of Port-o-Call in San Pedro, Los Angeles, California. We took a blow to the chin with President Corazon C. Aquino when she issued Executive Order No. 429 that transferred the regional capital from our city to Pagadian. Through this humble person, with the help of three brilliant and outstanding lawyers, namely, Vicente R. Solis, Abelardo Climaco, Jr. and the late Eduardo Atilano, we were able to stop the immediate relocation of the center for six years ... until we faced the wrath of PGMA.

President Ferdinand E. Marcos militarized Zamboanga during the Martial Law era. We got nothing from him, except a promise to transfer the existing airport to the east coast. When Mayor Cesar C. Climaco was assassinated, that promise died, too. Well, through acting Mayor Manuel Dalipe, Marcos, through the Department of Interior and Local Government, released some funds for seven water projects. Some of them are still functioning. But that was it.

Other than already mentioned, we are left to fend for ourselves. Even with our perceived closeness to Malacanang with the ascendance of Mayor Beng Climaco-Salazar, a staunch ally of President Aquino, we can’t get funds to help us build homes in resettlement sites to transfer the displaced families now living in temporary shelters at the sports complex and along R.T. Lim boulevard. We had to rely heavily on municipal taxes, internal revenue allotment and PDAF of our congressmen to finance infrastructure projects and “build back better.” Now, we’re down to two since DAP has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

We have to prepare for the future, whether bright or dark. Now is the time for leaders to be connected with the public and think and talk about economic advancement. There are a lot of foreign money floating around. It’s a matter of knowing how to get them. Yes, we have learned to live alone. But for how long?