BEHIND THE LINES: The countdown PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 13 March 2015 11:48



San Jose, CA. — For those seeking re-election and for those wanting to be elected, the countdown for the 2016 elections has begun. Because of the dearth of remarkable political thinking humans, and scant individuals — although highly-qualified and honest — jumping into the fray, we will have to do with what we’ve got — old, dull familiar faces, some of them terse and most of them voluble to even the most untenable issues for as long as the camera is three feet from their faces.

Insidious plans are now being hatched, as are covert deals, somewhere by unscrupulous politicos to make sure that they’re not outfoxed and outmaneuvered and their opponents paramounted. Their mouth-pieces and speech-writers are working their brains out for eloquent sound bytes and bombastic punchlines to go with their list of zenith accomplishments.

Zamboanga has long been searching for a true, democratic leader. Maybe, she has found one in a she who is building-back a future to advance Zamboanga’s march toward national recognition and relevance. We have lost our place in the Philippine map long after we were adjudged as the cleanest city in the country in the late 50s. The dictatorial regime of Ferdinand E. Marcos brought nothing to Zamboanga but blood, tears and funerals.

For more than three decades, Zamboanga has been deflated, tourism-wise, because of ceaseless violence and crimes like kidnapping, murder, extortion, armed robbery, gun-running, drug-trafficking, not to mention the string of premeditated grenade explosions and bombings of movie-houses and bazaars. Don’t get me wrong. We’re not blaming local authorities, civilian and law enforcement, for the malady that has already incensed our people. There’s got to be true and sincere ‘agents of change’ to bring about meaningful reforms in all categories and push the return of tranquility and peace in Zamboanga.

Many times have we been driven close to achieving full economic and tourism boom only to sink again to uncertainty by a single, brutal explosion. The cycle keeps repeating and we have not learned from it — only to experience it again and again and again. The security of Zamboanga must be seriously addressed. Dozens of innocent people have died, properties destroyed, people maimed, the helpless kidnapped and raped, etc. in more than 30 years and we have not been able to fix the problem. Why so? The September 9, 2013 MNLF bloody siege was the height of our ‘ de malas’.

We have a tendency of blaming the abuses and atrocities committed by outside forces for our sad plight — MNLF, MILF, Abu Sayyaf, visitors from other places with bodyguards bearing high-powered guns, assassins, armed robbers, ruthless drug-dealers, you name them. That was Ric San Juan’s problem when he was tourism regional director. He couldn’t put Zamboanga back in the map of distinction and prominence with an annual budget of only P1 million. Are we a cursed city?

Nonito Araneta, who now lives in Las Vegas, and a few good people formed “Bale Zamboanga” in the early 80s to promote a city badly hammered by misfortunes. The group vowed to change the eroding image of Zamboanga. But they got bombed out with the assassination of Cesar C. Climaco.

Binding ourselves together, it wouldn’t be impossible to bring our city from the dead. RESTORE ZAMBOANGA should be our driving slogan, not “Via con dios”, “No te vayas” or “Adelante Zamboanga”. Japan did it after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. China did it after the 1949 revolution. So did Germany and Vietnam. Why can’t a small city such as ours do it?