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Wednesday, 06 September 2017 11:38

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

In 1969, Mrs. Imelda R. Marcos said: “For thousands of years, at evening time, as the sun goes down in Manila Bay, you can see the dark velvet slopes and peaks of Mariveles take the shape of a woman at rest. We call her the Sleeping Goddess, born of earth and stone, fused in the elemental creative fire. Through all these years, she has lain there, a silent witness to the rise and ebb of the tides of history that have flowed around our islands. She alone has endured, her beauty and freshness undimmed, while around her lie the ruins and scars of history, the fallen monuments of brass and stone and the sunken argosies of those who sought to possess this land and who were overwhelmed by time.”

In all her speeches, prepared or extemporaneous, this woman from Barrio Sta. Maria, born with a political brand that has illuminated a stigmatized city, is true to her compassionate style of delivery. Sometimes, she even cries when she talks about social and political discourses inimical to the aspirations of Zamboangueños. While her mettle has yet to be fully harnessed as the chief executive of the city, she has compensated it with her compassion for the poor, implemented economic and infrastructure development and launched cultural activities that helped express our spirit on a higher level.

Still, she has to fortify her political ground from the malice of her detractors. Her strenuous efforts and sacrifices to lift Zamboanga from the horrors of September 9, 2013 secured her political stature against the arrows and foul tongues of her critics.

Beng Climaco-Salazar did not come from nowhere. Unlike monarchs, she did not “convulse the leisurely pace of history.” She is one, simple Barrio Girl, educated by the priests and molded by the nuns. After the demise of Madam Maria Clara Lorenzo-Lobregat, she became the rallying point of women in the city that has to deal with domestic violence and prostitution.

I liken her to Jacqueline Kennedy who “transformed herself to a legend.” Someone said about Mrs. Kennedy: “Her charm, her cool, her known civility and grace won even the admiration of a proud de Gaulle and later, Khrushchev.” I don’t know how well Beng can sing, but dancing is the key to her person. You aim for perfection when you dance – the steps, the turns and grace of arms and facial expression (when dancing Tango), but this burning desire to trip the lights fantastic runs in conflict with her schedule as a leader.

Her former students at the Ateneo would attest to her wholeness – as a teacher, catechist, journalist and politician. Perhaps, it is because of her humanitarian nature that she is loved.

How Beng will wield her baton in the Puericulture Center fiasco bears watching. Her most trusted adviser, former judge Jesus Carbon, has demanded from Dr. Rodelin M. Agbulos, city health officer and president and CEO of the Zamboanga Puericulture Center Organization No. 144, Inc., to turn over to the city treasury monies received from Freemont Foods Corporation, to wit: P1401,864.96 representing advance rental payment for the first 12 months of the effectivity date made by Freemont (Jollibee); P350,466.24 security deposit; P7.5 million non-refundable security for the construction of the new building for the relocated (displaced) affected tenants; and all other payments, if any, received under the lease contract.

Did or did not Dr. Agbulos, being the president and CEO of Puericulture Center, inform Beng, or the city of Zamboanga, about the lease contract he entered into with Freemont to construct a Jollibee outlet on La Purisima, corner P. Brilliantes sts.? Apparently, he did not, because Beng has declared the contract null and void “because the object of the contract on a 750-square meter lot owned and registered in the name of the Republic of the Philippines was withdrawn from the sale or settlement and reserved for specific public purposes – Puericulture Center – under the administration of the City of Zamboanga per Presidential Proclamation No. 211 signed by President Ramon Magsaysay on February 26, 1955. The lot being of public dominion, cannot be sold, leased or donated and is outside the commerce of men.”

How could have Dr. Agbulos and Freemont missed this legal impediment?

The compassionate side of the story is next. Abangan.