Abnormal times PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 09 May 2018 11:28

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

San Jose, CA. — These are not normal times. It isn’t normal to listen to Rep. Celso L. Lobregat (PDP-Laban) rant about the ineffectual vote of the committees endorsing the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. It isn’t normal for City Hall to take some media networks by the horns and threaten their closure when they’re supposed to be partners in community building. It is abnormal to see political friendships ruined because of selfish ambitions. The good thing is that Zamboanga has a good track record of fixing abnormal things.

For examples: Cesar C. Climaco and his bitterest of rivals, Hector C. Suarez, surprised everybody when they decided to bury the hatchet in the twilight of their colorful lives and formed a potent political party - the Concerned Citizens Aggrupation (CCA). The dynamic duo, leaders of the Liberal Party and the Nacionalista Party, respectively, joined forces to defeat the vaunted, well-financed, superparty Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) in the 1980 local elections; Climaco and former mayor and assemblyman Joaquin F.S. Enriquez, Jr. smoked the peace pipe after the latter lost to the former in the 1983 national assembly elections; The Laban ng  Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) headed in Zamboanga by Mrs. Maria Clara L. Lobregat coalesced with Mayor Vitaliano D. Agan’s Lakas in 1995,  monumental fusion that changed, at least for three years, the political atmosphere in Zamboanga.

Those were political wars that got settled. The truth is that we’ve not solved our uncertain political future, which is definitely an abnormality that will probably never be resolved unless this “Autonomous Region” issue is settled with finality. Zamboanga has voted many times in referenda and plebiscites to stay out of the Constitution-created Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. We’re not assured, no matter the preponderance of guarantee by Malacanang and Congress, that we are definitely not included in the proposed new ARMM.

The PDP-Laban knows this but isn’t telling us yet. The proposition to trash the 1987 Constitution in favor of a federal constitution may put Zamboanga’s position at risk. The demarcation lines will be redrawn and the regions and cities will be rezoned which, if done without consultations, will realign the administrative regions of Mindanao.

For example, the highly-urbanized independent city of Zamboanga may be merged by the stroke of El Presidente’s pen with a Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. Following that presidential fiat, we may be included in the proposed ARMM federal region with Maguidanao or Cotabato as the capital. It will be a political abnormality that we shall abominate.

he attack on our sovereign soil on September 9, 2013 angered Zamboanguenos and everybody of conscience living in Zamboanga. We have spent countless of times and money debating how to prevent a similar attack by terrorists who are camped out in the hinterlands of Basilan and Sulu and can strike at peaceful communities anytime they wish.

A long term strategy to defeat the extremists is on the drawing board. The police and military should deal with the forces of evil with impunity, otherwise we will have a repeat of the Zamboanga siege and the Marawi attack every three years.

And, then, people close to them will have to deal with the widening rift between Madam Beng and Senor Celso. Their fall in the murky, dirty sea water as the faulty-constructed walkway collapsed in Rio Hondo, now known as the epic “Bridge on the River Deep”, didn’t save the day for Zamboanga. After the barangay elections, Mr. Lobregat’s “warriors” and “cavaliers” will capitalize on Madam Beng’s frustrations, namely, traffic, substandard infrastructure, and pending cases against her. They will take on the swamp, in a manner of speaking, as they sense that Madam Beng’s coalition of young people, the religious, academe, retired policemen and soldiers, and more importantly the Chinese heavy donors, some of them bearing red passports, is breaking apart.

The question is: Can Madam Beng match the cash of the Lobregat Empire to fund the campaign of barangay candidates? They should, methinks, combine their strength and resources and get their “pambatos” elected because they’ll be needing them for a bigger political undertaking: another bold campaign for a “NO” vote when the time comes, again, for Zamboanga to vote against a federal constitution that puts her in the ARMM league seekers of independence and self-rule.