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Fit, able, and brave enough

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Congressman Celso L Lobregat makes it appear in public that he is disquieted or agitated over mounting speculations that pit him against Mayor Maria Isabelle “Beng” Climaco-Salazar for the mayoralty post in the 2016 elections. “Vaya” (Beng)  vs. “Vayas” (Celso)? The problem with this public stance of the congressman from my district is that it appears more of an artful political posturing than anything else. Instead of squelching the persistent speculations, it looks more like he is encouraging and inflaming them by not flatly denying his reported burning desire to hold court at city hall once again come June 30, 2016.

Simple. All he has to do is to publicly announce today that he intends to run for re-election as congressman of the city’s first district and will not face Beng in a potential cliffhanger. But, I don’t believe Celso would do that because, from all cues and clues, it looks like he wants to do a McArthur and wrest away from Beng the mayor’s seat which he had held continuously long enough for nine years (2004-2013).

Come to think of it, all these conjectures appear to have gained traction because they tie up with all those loose talks before and after the election last year that Celso and Beng had a secret pact that would allow the mayor from my barangay to stay in city hall for only one term. Meaning, Beng would only act as an interim mayor, a fill-in for three years, a tapa falta as it were, and abandon any plans to serve for two more terms whether she likes it or not.

I remember once watching a television interview via Ustream conducted by broadcaster Gil Climaco, of EMedia Radio-Television, with Congressman Lobregat who endlessly hemmed and hawed on the same issue to the utter frustration of  “Mr. Straight To The Point”.  The veteran media anchor just couldn’t pin down the politically savvy congressman whose consistent on-air equivocations, however, only reinforced the widespread rumours surrounding his ambition to become Hizzoner once again.

As far as I can recall, there had been only two Climaco versus Lobregat election matchups in the distant past. The first was in 1984 (that’s 30 years ago), when the late Mayor Cesar C. Climaco (uncle of Beng) defeated the late Mayor and Congresswoman Maria Clara L. Lobregat (mother of Celso) for a seat in the regular Batasan Pambansa. That was Marcos’ time. The second was in 1987 (count that as 27 years past) when Mrs. Lobregat bounced back and triumphed over  the late Julio Cesar “Rini” Climaco (son of Ñor Cesar and first cousin of Beng) for the city’s then lone congressional seat in the House of Representatives. That was Cory’s time. Additionally, of more recent reckoning, there was last year’s election when Junie Climaco (another son of Ñor Cesar and first cousin of Beng) ran against and was defeated by, Celso for the city’s first legislative district.

It bears remembering, however, that in all these political dustups between the two political biggies (see, I am bypassing the word “dynasties”) of the city, they essentially involved the family side of the late Mayor Cesar C. Climaco and not that of Beng’s, whose late father, then Councilor and Vice Mayor Jose “Jolly” Climaco, was one of the closest political allies of Mrs. Lobregat. I am told that it was the father of Beng who campaigned relentlessly for Mrs. Lobregat when she ran and won as Delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention, representing Zamboanga City (and the entirety of Zamboanga del Sur), which, incidentally, was her first foray in the political arena. Thereafter, I cannot recall any instance wherein the late Jolly Climaco was anywhere except on the political side of the Lobregats. Jolly was always there for the Lobregats, and his political proximity with the latter apparently paved the way for the insertion of Beng into Zamboanga’s politics, starting as councilor, vice mayor, congresswoman, and mayor.

The current tally for the three political face offs between the Sta. Maria and Nuñez political clans: one win for the Climacos and two for the Lobregats, i.e., Ñor Cesar over Mrs. Lobregat in 1984, Mrs. Lobregat over Rini in 1987, and Celso over Junie last year. If Beng decides to run for re-election and Celso turns speculations into reality, Beng can even up the political score for the Climaco clan at 2-2, or Celso can improve the Lobregats’ standing at 3-1.

But, the big question is whether Beng is fit and able and brave enough to be on her own, standing free and independent, to do just like what her uncle and two cousins did in the past. Mira kita.

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For those of you who have been arguing endlessly over the Supreme Court decision on the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP, it is best that you take a pause and become  familiar with the dispositive portion of the ruling, which reads:

“WHEREFORE, the Court PARTIALLY GRANTS the petitions for certiorari and prohibition; and DECLARES the following acts and practices under the Disbursement Acceleration Program, National Budget Circular No. 541 and related executive issuances UNCONSTITUTIONAL for being in violation of Section 25(5), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution and the doctrine of separation of powers, namely:

“(a) The withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies, and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year and without complying with the statutory definition of savings contained in the General Appropriations Acts;

“(b) The cross-border transfers of the savings of the Executive to augment the appropriations of other offices outside the Executive; and

“(c) The funding of projects, activities and programs that were not covered by any appropriations in the General Appropriations Act.

“The Court further DECLARES VOID the use of unprogrammed funds despite the absence of a certification by the National Treasurer that the revenue collections exceeded the revenue targets for non-compliance with the conditions provided in the relevant General Appropriations Acts.”

As clearly stated, it isn’t the DAP that was declared unconstitutional, but the “acts and practices” under it.

By the way, there is a motion for reconsideration filed by the Office of the Solicitor General pending before the High Tribunal. However, I do not expect any reversal of the decision which was well crafted by its writer, Justice Lucas P. Bersamin (we were in the same Bar year).  (POBox 333, ZC, vicrsolis@hotmail.com)

By Atty. Vicente R. Solis




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