V for Vic PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 14 April 2016 16:04

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

San Jose, CA. — He used to smoke like a chimney in his college days at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Zamboanga (now University). Always well-groomed, outclassed only by the stylish Rustico Varela, Sr. and with a bit of Old Spice splashed on his neck, Vicente “Vic” R. Solis said that his life would be ruined if he didn’t pass the bar exams. He did better than that — he topped it (1974, was it?).

One fine morning, as the Philippine Airlines 1-11 jet descended at the Zamboanga International Airport, Vic was greeted by throngs of admirers at the tarmac as he stepped out of the plane. He was smiling like an infant as he was received with a lei led by (you’ll never guess it) the great Cesar C. Climaco, himself a lawyer. After all, Vic’s stoic father worked for the Climaco Law Offices.

At the demolished Tenny Bowling Lanes along Tomas Claudio ext. where now stands the Ideal Trading owned by Siong Beng Wee, Ike Carpio, Tony Soriano (both now in heaven), Romy Ibalio (the Tinman) Vic and me rolled a few balls to break a sweat. He comes up to us and says,”Now, you guys can go ballistics and I’ll represent you in court.” Gee whiz. Ike became a priest; Tony drove a coke truck until he got promoted; Romy took over the scrap iron family business; and I chose the poorest of professions. Nah, Vic wasn’t a good bowler, but a damn good lawyer in actuality.

Vic, even during his high school days, strived for the best to be the best.

He was an exchange student/scholar that sent him to the United States of America where he had his first taste of Cheerios at Stanford University and his first winter snow in New England. That’s why he’s a rabid Boston Celtics fan. When you’re his age, you either are a Celtics fan or a Los Angeles Lakers diehard.

Vic was a government lawyer in his early practice and went on to become the lawyer of the Lobregat family. He was paying a debt of gratitude, for he could have chosen to be an “Abogado de Campanilla” with a giant law firm or a billion-peso corporation like San Miguel. After all, he was Número Uno. When he left the Lobregats, he minced no regrets for time well-spent.

If V is also for “victory”, the celebrated taxpayer’s suit that I filed in the Supreme Court questioning the legality and constitutionality of Executive Order No. 429 that realigned the administrative regions of 9 and 12 has the bold imprints of Vic and Attorneys Abelardo “Tonggo” Climaco, Jr. and the late Eduardo “Eddie” Atilano, one of Vic’s brilliant professors in college. We had the tyrannical order stayed for six years until the high tribunal ruled that the president, not congress, has the power to realign administrative regions. Our only chance then, which the REAWESMIN and the business sector took, was to appeal to President Ramos to recall the presidential edict signed by Pres. Cory Aquino because of its social-economic disadvantages that would unnecessarily displace hundreds of state workers and hundreds more of their immediate families. To no avail.

There’s hardly an issue that Vic is absent of an opinion, even same-sex marriage. He is always excited to share a reaction, in print and radio, to developments unfolding in the city he was born in, reared in, educated in and dearly loves. He has core values, that’s for sure, for he would not have gone to the water council to protest against the ridiculous water rate increases years ago and helping craft the law that created the Zamboanga Special Economic Zone Authority and Freeport.

But he couldn’t be the candidate that would shake down the Fil-Chi chamber for campaign money. He went to the bank for a loan to finance his campaign. At the time, you couldn’t be the one to shout, “we’re going to rebuild Zamboanga” or “change is needed” if you were going up against the formidable Lobregat Empire. No way. Not even now. Vic always said that elections are about the future. Mr. Celso l. Lobregat continuos to win because of the past — his beloved mother. When he broke into politics, Drigo Balbon said that Vic was the enormous energy, the atomic bomb that the opposition needed to annihilate a dynasty. That was, of course, an anecdote. But a good one.

The swaggering Lobregat Empire cruises to successive victories in the polls because of its platform of unity and continuity. That’s difficult to overcome, one of Vic’s close friends contends. I tell you, two of those covenants were drafted by Vic when he was still in good standings with the Lobregats.

Since his life-threatening heart condition that needed surgery, Vic has been dormant, like Mayon Volcano, but not mute. He has his legal impressions/interpretations about Ms. Grace Poe’s qualifications, Mayor Duterte’s charge to curb criminality, the controversial bus terminal that took years to open, the power and water problems, to mention a few.

Peeved about the energy and water crises, Vic emailed me this: “We shout, we complain,we propose, but who the hell listens and cares?” God does. Wait till he picks up arms against the devils.

The baseload power plant in San Ramon would have been operational by 2016. But because of foregoing events, the timetable was moved to 2019, around the middle part of that year. That’s going to give Zamboanga 105 megawatts of independent, reliable, sustainable power that’ll take care of our electricity woes for at least 25 years.

Here’s what actually happened. Big utilities came to Zamboanga offering their services to ZAMCELCO. But because of misguided so-called intervenors, the investors/power providers looked for other clients/customers. But this is not the case with Davao Light and Cepalco that contracted power with the Western Mindanao Power Corporation (WMPC) that needed an approved power sales agreement from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). There were no intervenors (asarante, as in asar), and the proposed PSA was steadfastly approved.

In the case of Zamboanga, it took the ERC more than NINE months to approve the PSA between ZAMCELCO and the San Ramon Power, Inc. (SRPI) due to the asarantes. Yes, they stalled the deal for God-knows-what reasons. Three times they were summoned by the ERC to orally explain their opposition to the PSA. Three times they failed to appear. When the ERC finally ordered them to submit their protestation in writing, they did not and were declared in default by the ERC. That was a waste of precious time to solve our power dilemma. And that was what Vic was referring to — to complaints being arrogantly ignored.

That’s also one of the reasons why Vic, one-time associate editor of the old Zamboanga Times when he was in college (and a damn good writer, attests TIMES Editor-in-Chief Efren C. Pena), is pissed off. But I can’t squeeze the juice out of him regarding some anomalies within ZAMCELCO because Vic protects his clients, no matter estranged, like a pitbull.

Is he mulling another run in 2019? Right now, he’d rather concentrate on his legal profession and eat as much veggies as he can. Once he’s 100 percent fit for anything, Zamboanga, be warned. V is coming.