BEHIND THE LINES: The return of the sage PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 31 March 2015 11:30

BY BOB JALDON

 

San Jose, CA. — No one has discounted the possibility of his return to the small kingdom by the sea. As a matter of fact, the never left — he only went on sabbatical to do some important legislative functions in Quezon City to fulfill a mandate, which was actually his vacation from the lonely job as local chief executive. The clear reason why he has always won an election is because of what he did, (not what he said) for the barangays, public schools, public health by giving away Philhealth cards and social amelioration for the poor, without forgetting the middle-class that marvel in spectacles like the colorful dancing fountain and open-air fabulous restaurants and joints featuring wholesome, sometimes rock, music

Congressman Celso L. Lobregat is the wizard of local politics, having control over the city council, the barangay council, the businessmen’s councils (Chinese and Filipino), the council of elders, the council of the elite and all other councils needing his financial assistance. The only council not in his pocket probably is the Fourth Estate. In dozens of public appearances, he did not hide his burning desire to “return” to City Hall —  because “the best is yet to come,” as he so promised. He’s been there for nine uninterrupted years. There will always be nagging speculations about himself, his health, his age, his wife and his nocturnal life. But those are issues long ago dismissed as black propaganda and character assassination ploys. The opposition is always quick to raise nonsense, impertinent preguntas. Many of them have bowed out of politics, some ignominiously. They speak with gibberish tongues, said a Celso die-hard, who’s been with him for the longest time in and out of public service.

Alas, Celso does not wear a trinket around his neck for luck nor a thingamabob to drive away bad spirits. He has always been unafraid to face the enemy girding around and inside the kingdom by the sea — be they drug lords, hired guns and their handlers, the autonomous-state advocates or the lame political opposition slowly fading in numbers because of advancing age or health problems. Only the foolhardy will cross swords with him, for the few calculating intelligentsia actively in politics will dare not debate him on good governance, not even taxation.

Zamboanga City has never been in the red. Years ago, Lobregat raised the property tax to prime up the city’s coffer and upped the local budget to P1 billion annually so that more infrastructure projects could be done that eventually created more jobs that led to high consumer spending. Thanks to his Ateneo degree in Economics and his higher education at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM). Very few lads carry an AIM distinction. If the Bangsamoro Political Entity that will, if ratified, supplant the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is the deliverance the Muslims are seeking, then Celso is Zamboanga’s Moses. I have not seen a more passionate individual when it comes to politics, unafraid to tell you what he thinks and audacious on what he intends to do.

After the 9/9 bad news that obliterated the city’s tourism grandiose plans and the ever-divisive Zamboanga politics that has contributed to our snail’s pace progress as a highly-urbanized city, Zamboanga is once again looking at Celso for an edify. I suspect he has a blueprint of solving the yearly water crisis, the crippling power dilemma left unresolved for years because of some ill-advised custodians of our electric cooperative and the dreadful law and order conditions (what’s the latest U.Z. crime-board count?).

I worked with Celso for 13 years. He had our differences. I know his mettle, political determination and vim.    The Lobregat Empire will strike again with the return of the sage (Jedi?) in 2016.