BEHIND THE LINES: Condemned to his oath PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 05 January 2011 11:53

1998 was the turning point of his vocation. From his flowering flower business in Manila, Celso L. Lobregat got the green light from his beloved mother to run for a seat in the House of Representatives against a titan who lost only but once in an election. We caroused at his coming after he exposed a sham at the House that could have cost the city government more than P400 million – the city-Licomo road concreting project. Zamboanga ventured on a newcomer, described then by one of critics as a nonentity, thou he comes from a line of well-bred politicians – Don Pablo Lorenzo and Mrs. Maria Clara L. Lobregat. The moment he was elected as congressman and eventually as mayor, he was condemned to his oath of office because service above everything else became the focal point of his colorful career.

He has two-and-a-half years left in his third, uninterrupted term as local chief executive. He has done well for us – saving us from the gallows of what was outrageously termed as Bangsamoro Juridical Entity. He and our two beloved congresspersons, Erbie A. Fabian and Beng Climaco-Salazar, and a host of other politicians who needed to be in the limelight went to the Supreme Court to question the constitutionality of a tailor-made treaty which would have been signed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2009. Zamboanga and other cities in Mindanao showed their despair and displeasure over a piece of paper that would have surrendered our sovereignty without a fight. The government gambit failed because we raised our concerted condemnation against the dubious document that was later on ruled as unconstitutional. (Lest we forget, it was in the Year 2001 when Mayor Lobregat started his fight against the Goliaths in Malacanang when he initiated a congressional inquiry into a treaty that would also have been signed between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.)

This isn’t water under the bridge yet. As I write, the government is pushing for yet a new treaty with the MILF using an amended Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD). And Mayor Lobregat and those who trooped to the High Tribunal are expected to shoot it down if it proves disadvantageous to the cities and towns in Mindanao they would try to annex.

When in Congress, Mayor Lobregat brought in more than P2 billion worth of projects. As mayor, he has equaled that amount as of last count. Because “no machine can do the work of an extraordinary man”, Mayor Lobregat has promised more bounties for the countryside without forgetting the concerns of the city proper, such as road repair, traffic, drainage and petty crimes. He will deliver his state-of-the-city speech before the City Council where he is expected to enumerate his plans and programs for this year and the next. He knows that people love to see things (visual). He knows that novelties overcome dullness. That is why he built the “Paseo del Mar”, “Paseo del Pilar” and Paseo de Pasonanca” to mention a few.

Celso, if I may call him such, has climbed to the top of a slippery pole. He has demonstrated his patience and prudence in delivering basic services to a people provoked many times in the past by uncontrollable events. He is the “test of human worth.”

Where there is vision, there is progress. Such is Celso. --Bob Jaldon