Let go, Celso! PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 25 July 2016 13:54



I surmise that if you served as mayor for nine uninterrupted years, it’s difficult to LET GO. You wake up each morning still thinking, perchance dreaming, that you’re still the “prince” of a city that you’ve left to serve her and her people in another capacity. The tendency is still to ACT like the mayor, talk like the mayor, walk like the mayor and feel like the mayor. You just CAN’T, or WON’T, LET GO perhaps because of the perks, the importance of the office, the entourage that tailed you wherever you went, the security that blanketed you, the applause you received (not necessarily admiration) after each boring, self-centered speech are HARD THINGS TO LET GO.

For nine straight years as mayor and nine broken years as congressman, Mr. Celso L. Lobregat has had the great, distinguished privilege to serve the city of Zamboanga – and I presume he has not ceased to be thankful to the people who have continuously voted him into office, and for their trust and partiality towards him and his great family. Six times the people of this wonderful city have voted to allow him the great moments of representing them, either in the House (of commons) or City Hall. And, I will personally vouch that he has served them with dignity and honor.

A few days ago, he provided this newspaper with screaming data showing that Zamboanga has lost its competitive ranking among highly-urbanized cities that have competed in this program. The data, naughtily passed on to a reporter, showed that from Number 15, Zamboanga is now at Number 32. The data also revealed that we have plunged in our ranking for economic dynamism, government efficiency and infrastructure.

Does it really matter? Last year, we were Number 15 and 2016 isn’t over yet. There is time to move up and recover lost ground. In our city budget for this year are appropriations that will boost economic growth, strengthen government efficiency and implement heavy infrastructure that will pave the way for domestic and even foreign investment.

The present dispensation, a woman, has been voted consecutively into office (city council, vice mayor, congress and mayor) and whose popularity is consistently high. She is correct in rebutting that the city cannot expect the high rankings compared to past ratings because it is work in progress.

The question that should be asked is this: Are the people satisfied at the way the city government is doing its job of providing  employment, livelihood, housing for the poor (most of them Muslim), in managing traffic and implementing ordinances and national laws to make our city safe, secure and clean, especially the old waterfront, muddy and dirty market?

When he served as mayor, did anyone (except for the opposition) question the manner by which Mr. Lobregat ran the affairs of the city government? NONE. Now, he should stick to his legislative work in the House and LEAVE the management of city to Mayor “Beng” Climaco-Salazar. The city survived the bloody siege in 2013, got up on her feet and recovered wonderfully from the destruction of that attack. In like manner, in face of bad news and harsh criticisms, the mayor should pay close attention to the enforcement of ordinances and state regulations. She should not, under no circumstances, intentionally be remiss of her duties and not deviate from its standards. I think, it would be more prudent for Mr. Lobregat to advice, not criticize, Mrs. Climaco-Salazar (being her “kuya”).

An American Democrat once said (and Mr. Lobregat should take heed of this): “It is grievously hurtful to our society when vilification becomes and accepted form of political debate, when negative campaigning becomes a full-time occupation, when members of each party (take note, TEAM COLORAO) become self-appointed vigilantes carrying out personal vendettas against members of the other party. In God’s name, that’s not what this institution is supposed to be all about.”

This same Democrat continued: “When vengeance becomes more desirable than vindication, harsh personal attacks on one another’s motives, one another’s character, drown out the quiet logic of serious debate on important issues — things that we ought to be involved ourselves in.”