Mayor Joe III changes his mind

ABOVE THE BELT | ALEX P. VIDAL

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.”–James Humes

NEW YORK CITY — Because most of them were preoccupied and concerned more with their reelection and political ambitions in the May 2019 elections, some Iloilo City aldermen opted to play deaf and mute when the raging furor over the unpopular renaming by Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III of the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand to “Iloilo Dinagyang Grandstand” hogged headlines since last week.

When they could not perform their role as members of the local legislature to scrutinize and help correct certain misdemeanors in the executive branch, we, in the mass media, filled the vacuum of check and balance.

We were the ones who consistently and passionately pressed the wake up call that the act of renaming the historic grandstand wasn’t only unpopular but downright unpalatable if not smeared with moral and legal issues.

For being reluctant to chide the mayor–or at least tell him he was wrong–the city aldermen probably did not want to look like villains in the mayor’s eyes especially that there is a strong indication Joe III will remain as city mayor for the next four years.

Their implied recalcitrance on the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand brouhaha gave Ilonggos the uncanny impression that as long as they are in power, Mayor Joe III will get what he wants and they won’t stand his way to disappoint him.

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We are glad though that Mayor Joe III responded to the media criticism positively.

He immediately doused cold water to the conflagration by announcing that the name “Dinagyang Grandstand” wasn’t for keeps, acknowledging that the decision to rename any public structure needs the imprimatur of the local legislative body as a co-equal branch in government.

Contrary to what his political enemies have been trying to portray him, Mayor Joe III wasn’t insensitive afterall.

After all is said and done, we are confident Mayor Joe III will no longer pursue that loathed edict on the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand.

Councilor Joshua Alim has hinted that he would push for the retention of the word “freedom” even as the Iloilo City Council has yet to formally tackle the issue and help assuage the frazzled emotions of members of the so-called Timawa party or the Ganzon loyalists (Ganzonistas), who vowed to campaign against Mayor Joe III if he did not change his mind.

The Iloilo Freedom Grandstand, built in the 1950s to commemorate Republic Act 1209 or the “Iloilo City Freedom Law” authored and sponsored by the late former senator and mayor Rodolfo “Roding” Ganzon, was the Ganzon loyalists’ only living legacy and memory of their beloved hero, Roding Ganzon.

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Like in the cases of other policemen linked in illegal drugs, President Duterte offered no solid evidence when he shamed and fired last Saturday Bacolod City police chief, Senior Supt. Francisco Ebreo, and four others: Supt. Nasruddin Tayuan, Supt. Richie Makilan Yatar, Senior Insp. Victor Paulino and Senior Supt. Allan Rubi Macapagal.

Even after meeting the embattled police officials in Malacanang last Tuesday, the President reiterated his displeasure and disgust and lambasted them anew for being allegedly protectors of illegal drugs or personalities engaged in illegal drugs directly and indirectly.

Some of them could be innocent — unless their accusers can produce solid evidence and file formal charges against them in court.

No less than Chief Supt. John Bulalaco, Regional Police Office 6 (RPO-6) director, has confirmed Ebreo was not on their list of those linked in illegal drugs.

We can’t question the President’s intelligence network; he must have the valid reason when he went ballistic against the Bacolod cops.

We learned, however, that the other reason why cops earned Mr. Duterte’s ire after some incumbent elected officials in Bacolod City had alleged that the cops escorted Councilor Ricardo “Cano” Tan and his wife were ambushed by unknown assailants in December 13, 2018 in Talisay City.

The Tan couple just came from their property in Talisay City, the Campuestohan Highland Resort, when they were waylaid on their way to Bacolod City.

They survived.

Tan has been named by Duterte as alleged drug trafficker.

Tan, a sportsman, is also at odds with Mayor Evelio “Bing” Leonardia politically.

Leonardia is an ally of Mr. Duterte.