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Romeo or Juliet?


Zamboanga City is not a private property or villa of a cacique. Our electoral laws do not prohibit anyone, even aliens from the remotest fringes of the universe from seeking political position or public office in any of the 98 brangays scattered all over its sprawling territory of more l,470 square kilometers. In fact, Zamboanga City is so huge that we can place two metro Manilas within its land mass and probably three others around its maritime territory. All you have to do to qualify is to establish residence anywhere within its boundaries one year before election, be able to read and write, meet the age requirement, and be a Filipino naturalized or otherwise. Even a person behind bars under our system of acquiring public power if clever enough might still be able to run for a political position anywhere in the Philippines. It is common knowledge that despite prohibitions cited in the Local Government Code of 199l, some convicted individuals who ran for political positions in other local government units while serving their sentences, were surprisingly elected and re-elected with overwhelming margins of votes versus their closest rivals. There were even instances when the feebleminded or insane individuals were smart and bold to circumvent the disqualification provisions and were able run for mayor in the past. It is not completely unlikely for these unusual incidents to be replicated in this political sub-division, which for some, might somehow serve as a humbling political experience and enlightening grace in their public service career.  

Because no one has the monopoly or exclusivity of leadership potentials, competencies, talents and abilities, to my mind, it is not fair for anyone to place any roadblocks, impediments, or any restrictions intended to frustrate the political aspiration of any qualified individual no matter how socially obscure, educationally ill-prepared or materially inconsequential he/she is in the eyes of his/her contenders. Our collective political experience, has taught us that the most trained, educated, intelligent, and economically affluent candidates do not always turn out to be excellent and exemplary public servants. On the contrary, the opposite seems to be the pervasive bureaucratic reality than a rarity. 

Yes, we fully agree that Zamboanga City is teeming with highly competent, educationally qualified, legitimately and impeccably wealthy, and professionally and technically prepared to occupy any of the key positions in our local government. But the paradox is, many of them would rather stay in the comfort and tranquility of their private residences than run the business of public office. Look around, and you’ll be surprised that they are just basking in the protective embrace of silence and anonymity while those with motives and interests other than public service appear to be the ones so obsessed in grabbing the reins of government. Worst, once in office, quite a number move heaven and hell to remain perpetually in power.  Could this be the reason why for the longest time Zamboanga City has remained virtually a Bonsai?

Who will fast track the progress and development of Zamboanga City and transform her into a leading Metropolis in Southern Philippines? Is it a Romeo or a Juliet? What’s your educated guess?

By Clem M. Bascar

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