BEHIND THE LINES: Opposition shortage PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 19 March 2015 11:33



San Jose, CA. — They are those who oppose the establishment. That’s why they’re branded as opposition, or belonging to the other side. An odd definition because like the majority they, too, are pro-government, pro-democracy, pro-people. Be they as they are called, there is an apparent shortage of opposition leaders in Zamboanga. After Councilors Mel Agan, Jawo Jimenez, Kim Elago, Mel Sadain, Josephine Pareja and Rudy Bayot, former Vice Mayor Mannix Dalipe, ex-padre Monsi de la Cruz, aging former Vice Mayor Bong Ko and his classmate in high school former Mayor Manny Dalipe, Attorneys Susan de los Reyes and Abelardo “Tono” Climaco, Jr. and, finally, Dr. Junie Climaco, there are no more abled bodies, moneyed individuals and respectable persons to manage and run a decent opposition political campaign to dislodge what appears to be the perpetual custodians of City Hall. At this juncture, the opposition does not have a think tank, a planner, an operator who’d roll up his sleeves to run a campaign as efficient and as collaborative as that of Adelante Zamboanga and the Liberal Party combined.

If Cong. Celso L. Lobregat succeeds in convincing Mayor Ma. Isabel G. Climaco-Salazar to give up City Hall in exchange for her past congressional post, who’s going to run against Lobregat who has everything in his campaign arsenal, including the votes of the proletariat? Hoi polloi as they are, they’re the hordes who get people elected, not the rich or better-off middle-class people.

In 1979, when the energetic Cesar C. Climaco and the lethargic Hector C. Suarez decided to forget their differences (Cesar had called Hector ‘turtuga’ because he was a slow-foot) and bury their political hatchet (Cesar was a Liberal and Hector was a Nacionalista), they formed the Concerned Citizens Aggrupation (CCA) that would fearlessly take on the invincible Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) big-wheeled by President Ferdinand E.Marcos and financed by every living Chinese businessman (for fear of being deported) and prime corporations (afraid of being sequestered). They scouted and found a “niño bonito” who graduated seventh in the Philippine Military Academy class 1967. He was valedictorian from elementary all the way to high school. The only hitch was that he was one of Marcos’s helicopter pilots.

Air Force Major Manuel A. Dalipe was the ideal pick that would add color and glamour to the opposition and spike up its campaign because it had a Marcos turncoat running with a rudely-assembled party of newcomers and antiquated leaders. Little did Climaco and Suarez knew that they were forming an empire in a city of then 500,000 or people of mixed denomination, religion and culture, even ideals.

But that empire collapsed with the assassination of Climaco, the demise of Suarez and the dissension among its over-qualified, high-educated members (because most of them were lawyers). And, so, the Lobregat Empire was born and ultimately stayed.

Well-funded with a united mission and vision for growth rather than all-talk and very little action, the Lobregat Empire did not only fight for development, better health services, a robust internal economy, better public education and available social services, but also for the political welfare of Zamboanga. The Empire vigorously opposed, as did 98 percent of Zamboanguenos, to us being included in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and everything linked to it like the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development.

Innocently, even now, we asked for isolation, like Davao and Cagayan de Oro, although flanked by islands and islets inhabited by Muslims. Isolation is nothing new to us, for we were segregated during the Marcos era. Infrastructure funds were not available for us that the only significant development (not even) we had were the cement-paving of Veterans’ Avenue and the construction of Santa Cruz public market. But we weren’t led to a rut, only stagnation, briefly. We were the first city in Mindanao to have taxi service (Apex and Yellow Cab). Now, we are a highly-urbanized city with hundreds of annoying, ever-noisy and highly-polluting tricycles whose drivers arrogantly overcharge their passengers.

I have the notion that no one in the opposition can lead the charge in 2016 to take City Hall and the City Council.No one in the opposition wants to lead because they don’t know how. Jimenez and Agan work alone. They go solo just like Mannix and Monsi. The others in the opposition don’t have the money to buoy expensive political ads and hire poll experts and public relations people, much more buy votes.

More-over, they don’t have candidates forceful and decent enough to flatten a well-oiled, well-funded, deeply-entrenched Lobregat Empire that’s earned the respect of the electorate. But then again, I may be wrong.