Perspectives :Mangatarem’s lousy mayor; Brewing electoral race

December 22, 2009 at 12:05 pm Leave a comment

By Mortz C. Ortigoza

At the Kapihan sa Lenox recently, I asked Dagupan City mayoralty bet Benjie S. Lim the following “incendiary” questions that put the house down:

“We can expect the camp of your rival Mayor Al Fernandez will shoot you with high-octane issues like the alleged anomalous multi-million pesos garbage site in Awai, Metro State and Macador buildings, and Malimgas Market, what issues are you going to hurl at Mayor Al to counter these accusations?”

The former mayor initially told me that he would not resort to mudslinging. However, the fighter in him that we saw when he fought the “invincible” Speaker Joe de Venecia in the 2007 congressional race, betrayed him.

He said Dagupenos could just use their five senses to know the problems in the city.

“Pag dumadaan ka sa city buhol-buhol ang trapiko. Mahaba na ang oras sa pagbiyahi. Ewn ko kung nakikita natin na dumadami na ang vendors sa sidewalk. Ang paniwala ng (Fernandez) administration mas magandang magpagawa tayo ng maraming sidewalks, para marami mapagbentahan ang mga tao. Ewan ko kung naamoy ninyo na mapanghi lahat ng buildings na nakapaligid sa palengke ng Dagupan. Ewan ko kung nakikita ninyo ang mga drivers na nakaka-biyahe ng walong ikot but ngayon kakaunti na ang biyahe nila dahil buhol ang trapiko. Sa aking palagay ang tao hind natutulog. Ang tao ay hindi bulag at nakikita ang maling ginagawa, iyong kunwaring mi ginagawa, at walang ginagawa.”

He questioned also the P1.3 million every 10 days the city coffer pays to the owner of the hauler trucks that ferry garbage in the city.

“Sino ang may ari ng trucks? AListo masyado!” he emphatically alluded to Mayor Al whose slogan “AListo” punctuates every nook and cranny of the city.


After former mayor Lim presented his complete slate. I saw there an intelligent and eloquent speaker the city council needs. He is a young lawyer named Butch C. Torio. Another candidate the August Chamber needs is the amiable Dr. Jess Canto who runs under Mayor Fernandez. In his first term he showed us his prowess on the problems that haunted the city.


Everything was a hoax especially those text messages that proliferate mercilessly that Dagupan City Mayor Al Fernandez died at St. Luke in Manila .

By George, I saw him nights ago dancing with gusto with some news hens. He was with Lakas-Kampi Party senatorial bet Atty. Raul Lambino (my mentor in political law) who treated with his dancing prowess the journalists who celebrated our first salvo of our Christmas party that was complemented by seven roasted pigs and 40 cases of San Miguel Lights at the city plaza recently. Oh yes, Virginia , we will have another booze, songs, dance, and gifts that would be graced by Governor Amado T. Espino at the Capitol Ground on December 22.

When the mayor joined us at our table, he took a swig of my half empty bottle San Miguel Light beer, as he chomped his Marlboro red ciggie, and blew its smoke nonchalantly.

“Gee whiz mayor, you’re as sturdy as Fort Knox ,” I exclaimed as I gave him a new bottle of beer.

Manila Bulletin Jun Velasco cautioned me not to goad Al to drink since he just “recovered” from confinement at St. Luke Hospital two days ago.

Instead, Mayor Al asked his body guard to buy dozens of San Miguel Lights in can and two cases of that brown bottled San Miguel Pale Pilsen –since our 40 cases were emptied from the beer guzzling media colleagues – so everybody in our table could enjoy the cold December night.

“As a former undersecretary of DILG (Department of Interior & Local Government), have you met the Ampatuans and Mangudadatus?” I posed to him.

“All of them,” he told me.

He narrated that one of the mayor sons of Andal Ampatuan, Sr. was attacked by the MILF commandos despite his abode being surrounded by land mines as deterrence.

“The enemy was able to sneak a bomb and killed Datu Piang town Mayor Saudi Ampatuan. He added that the other son Hofer was shot to death by a son of councilor in a shoot-out in Cotabato City after his girlfriend complained that

her foot was stepped on by the said person in the discotheque in Cotabato City .

“Nearly an hour later, armed men shot dead the city councilor and his nephew at a hospital where his son and the family friend were brought,” the mayor told us.


Pangasinan News Publisher Bobot “His Immensity” Caracas – who grew-up like me in Mindanao narrated to the mayor his anecdote in that southern island.

“Imagine, a Maguindanaon in Buluan town flagged a Yellow bus bound to Davao City from Dadiangas (the former name of General Santos City) to wait for an hour because his Datu was still taking a bath and would partake his breakfast without any consideration about the inconveniences they gave to Christian commuters in the bus.”


I told the “spin doctors” of gubernatorial candidates Governor Amado T. Espino and Congressman Victor Agbayani how the latter was left behind in the “propaganda war” on TV and FM and AM radio.

“Victor started early on his TV and radio advertisement about his programs in the rural areas especially, and how the people could hug him, and press his hand when he was a governor, but just like the D-Day in Normandy Espino’s war planners — probably influenced by war tactician General Carl Von Clauswitz — unleashed with impunity in every available media outlets – that includes Discovery, History, and sport channels on cable TV- how pathetic the previous Agbayani administration in terms of infrastructure compared to his administration dubbed as “Noon at Ngayon (Then and now),” I told with a sense of urgency former Agbayani’s Public Information Officer Ruel Camba his camp has a lot of yeoman’s job to do to neutralize Espino.

But Ruel was unperturbed, he said the camp of “Espine” (Governor Espino) was just rattled, and those advertisements that swarmed Pangasinenses were tell-tales how desperate Espino is.

Susmariosep, Ruel and Victor’s camp should know that during the Christmas party of elected city and municipal officials in Pangasinan attended by almost all mayors in the province except Agbayani-friendly Mayors Nani Braganza, Balolong, and Sam Rosario of Alaminos City, Urbiztondo, and Binmaleys, respectively, at the Capitol Ground recently, I saw two multi-million pesos brand new flashy trucks with giant screen and loudspeakers that would be used in the propaganda wars entitled “Then and Now” to every boondocks in the province inhabited by a 2.5 million rambunctious Pangasinenses.


Is Mangatarem run by a lousy mayor? Recently, some parts of the town were gutted by fire. I learned that Mangatarem has no fire truck that should have doused-off the fire.

A friend at the Bureau of Fire Protection told me that 40 percent of towns and cities in the country have no fire truck.

But he said that if the mayor of a town like Mangatarem is pro-active he could intercede to acquire one or two fire trucks without relying on the BFP. It happened to other towns that are worse economically than Mangatarem.

Teddy Cruz runs the town. He used to be a big time contractor who became a town mayor decades ago.

He ran and won for a congressional seat. A friend told me Teddy became a member of that infamous Silent Committee in that August Chamber, just like the “political nincompoop” Senator Lito Lapid.

After being flattered by those enterprising media men and friends, he challenged political titan Victor Agbayani for governor, and the shrewd Amado T. Espino for congress. As a result he found himself not only politically dismembered but financially bankrupt according to my source.

Without anything “positive” I heard after he made a comeback as mayor, he will be for another rough-ride with the prolific mayoralty challenger and his former financer Alma Banaga.

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Entry filed under: Opinion.

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