Another summit? PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 22 June 2017 14:18

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

 

San Jose, CA. — In 2012, sometime October it was, Beng Climaco-Salazar and Celso L. Lobregat sat together in a room with two of their handlers breathing fresh air from a sea breeze that blew in a flush beach resort and agreed to stay connected in a political coalition and crush an “indomitable” opponent from the north, while jostling a long-time “partner” from his saddle. Temporarily, though.

Now, they are leaders of opposing parties, living in a small, heavily-populated city with migrants from the north and south that don’t speak the vernacular. Ironically, some policemen can’t, too. One has been reduced to become the leader of a minority, once dominant, political party (Liberal), and the other has butterflied to the super majority from the disintegrating Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), a party that his mother helped build. They are unique sensations, basking in different, distinct lifestyles, though not voguish like some boastful city councilors.

It will take 20 or more years — or never — for the real opposition to build a tenacious super alliance to defeat them, unless they kick the bucket early. Or, they can go at each other’s throats in 2019 — which is the path that they seem to be treading. At the moment, with still about a year-and-a-half before the next campaign — granting that the present system of government isn’t replaced by a federal-parliamentary one — Beng doesn’t have a strong hand. I reckon she has an ace and a queen of different suits, while Celso is holding a small pair.

The lady mayor needs all the help she can muster from her depleted force and collaborate with the undecided voters and the migrants for support for her aggressive infrastructure program, which is a laborious task without the full backing of the divided city council, most importantly its appropriations committee.

Celso is working on a long-term agenda that also requires huge funding, local and foreign. One of them is the proposed water dam that will need to be backed by a feasibility study, a funding agency, if approved, and the approval of the president through the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). He will have to make sure that the Mindanao railway will end in Zamboanga city when it is completed in the year only God knows. He will be under titanic pressure to see these projects realized — in our lifetime.

Yes, Celso is regarded as the hardest working congressman by his newfound congressional peers and friends and seen to be more trusted and accepted, especially among migrants and Muslim-Filipinos. He has done extensive research on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law and its impact to the other regions in Mindanao and the economic and financial implications on the national (federal) government.

Undoubtedly, both Beng and Celso want Zamboanga to stand alone and be Número Uno in Mindanao in all aspects, as what we were in the 60s. Every time we needed to advance farther, a terrifying episode happens, like a bomb or grenade explosion. Investors were pushed away — probably the reason why we are the only highly-urbanized city without an SM or Robinson’s.

Beng and Celso have both been carved by the same gritty media, sometimes insulting. They both listen to the radio, read newspapers, and watch television news — obsessed with who gets more space and airtime. Celso is a genius at hitting the headlines more often because, well, he writes his own news. They’re  both masters at positioning themselves where the cameras are aimed at. That’s because they had the same mentor — the beneficent, philanthropic, pleasing lady, Mrs. Maria Clara L. Lobregat.

Beng, without announcing her future political intentions, will run for her third and last term as mayor — if the federal constitution doesn’t abolish her position. Celso’s body language, his pronouncements, his “the best has yet to come” remarks tell you that he is running for mayor. Like the lion that has lost his mountain, he will come charging at City Hall to retake his dominion that he held for nine good years. His fight, right now, seems unpreventable...unless another summit by the beach happens. But that’s remote, very remote.

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 June 2017 14:35