Jam-packed crowd bursts in rounds of applause when favorite candidate drives home his points
The city’s electorate of more than 50,000 were treated to a spectacular display of verbal bravado and intelligence when the three mayoralty candidates clashed on issues involving local governance in the coming city hall administration as a result of the May 13, 2013 local elections. In a three-way candidates forum held yesterday at the University of Bohol gymnasium sponsored by the Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry, City Councilor John Geesnel Yap, Dr. Abe Lim and lawyer Agustinus Gonzaga, spelled out their respective platforms of government before a jam-packed crowd. The highly-partisan crowd which was obviously there to root for their respective candidates burst in thunderous rounds of applause whenever their favorite bet scored a particular point to every question posed by the moderator. Billed as "Your Voice, My Choice, Our Future", the event saw the three mayoralty wannabes tangling each other in an apparent bid to catch attention from a curious crowd who filled the venue to the rafters. It was believed that each candidate brought his own set of cheering squads to deliver the needed boost to their favorite bet on stage. A drum corps was even around to drumbeat to any candidate who scored victorious points during the affair dubbed by some observers as a “debate”. But to many spectators, the forum was more of a presentation of candidates rather than a debate because it was devoid of any proposition.
After the usual motherhood statements of all three hopefuls, there was no mistaking that the city’s worsening road conditions did not escape notice from two of the forum participants. Both Yap and Gonzaga did not help but lambasted the current city hall leadership for keeping a blind eye of the state of disrepair of the city road networks, a tricky issue that hounded City Mayor Dan Neri Lim every passing day. In fairness to Mayor Lim, however, some parts of the city like that of M.H. del Pilar and B. Inting were under concrete rehabilitation in addition to the concreting along Gallares St., parts of Dampas, Mansasa, Graham Avenue, among other completed road projects. Refusing to assume the role of city hall apologist, Dr. Lim, the incumbent mayor’s elder brother, was quick to deliver his piece that if given the chance to serve the city, “he will cause the concreting of 80% of the city roads during his first term in office”.
The three mayoralty aspirants were subjected to at least seven questions during the forum.
The questions thrown were: first, what do you consider as the number one problem of Tagbilaran City and what is your solution to the problem? Second, Health care is one concern that should be directly addressed what are your proposed projects regarding this? Third, considering that Tagbilaran is the main entry point of tourist coming to Bohol, do you have tourism projects for the city? What are they and why are they necessary? Fourth, with regards to the unemployment problem, what livelihood projects do you propose and how are they to be funded? Fifth, how do you address the solid waste and sewage disposal problem of Tagbilaran City? Sixth, what are your most radical move to minimize graft and corruption? And lastly, do you believe that you will win in this election without buying votes? Are the voters of Tagbilaran intelligent enough to make their own choices without money being involved?
Ranked first in the order of answering questions, Yap, at 36, proved that he’s not just all pretty face. On the issue of roads, the young councilor said his plan was to raise the road maintenance fund. He reasoned out that by road maintenance what he meant was that there should be a continuous maintenance system while awaiting for its permanent solution. On health care, the number one dad said his plan includes an increase of the blue card in order to expand its coverage. He also wanted to incorporate the PhilHealth services in the city’s hospitals. Yap whose family is in the tourism industry is bullish about fanning out the touch and feel of tourism in the barangays. He said if given the chance to serve the city, he wants all barangays a tourist destination. Also in the tourism segment, Yap said he will give his all-out support to the Sandugo festival as one of the liveliest festivals hereabouts.
Second in the ranking of answering the forum’s questions was Dr. Lim. In his brief introduction who spoke in fluent Visayan in apparent bid to dismiss insinuations that he is an “American Boy”, Dr. Lim said mao ra ning chance nako nga mapakita ninyo kung kinsa ko (this is my chance to show you who I am). Trying to impress the audience that it was a great sacrifice on his part to renounce his American citizenship in favor of running for city mayor, Dr. Abe said there indeed were questions regarding the propriety of running for public office in Tagbilaran. Of which he blurted "binuang" (foolishness) of why questions of this kind were raised. He said he run for public office because he wants to show to his parents what their elder son have become adding he wants to continue the program that the current mayor have started. In continuing the program of his brother the incumbent city mayor, Dr. Abe said the idea is to expand what has been started and lastly he wants to make into reality his dream of serving the people of Tagbilaran. When asked regarding what he considers to be the number one problem of this city, Lim, without batting an eyelash said it is health. As a doctor by profession, the issue of health is second nature to Dr. Abe. He said he batted for health care development in apparent reference to a time-honored adage that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. On tourism, Lim said the city’s tricycle drivers are the front liners in promoting tourism and therefore they should be educated on good manners and right conduct.
Lastly but not the least in the ranking of speakers was Gonzaga.
In a deliberate move to instigate his audience into believing that he committed a blunder when he said “good morning” ( the affair was held in the afternoon), Gonzaga clarified the good morning greeting in apparent reference to the break of dawn in the lives of Tagbilaranons. According to Gonzaga, good morning connotes the start of a new day. “Maoy sinugdanan sa bag-ong adlaw. Bag-ong adlaw nga modala kanato sa kausbanan, kauswagan ug kalambuan sa dakbayan sa Tagbilaran.” He went on to say “kining inyung higala mohangyo ug mouban kanato nga moabot kita niining bag-ong adlaw.” Taking his own potshots on the city’s roads full of potholes, Gonzaga said he was ashamed to hear from some people who branded the city’s road condition as TBTK which he meant Tagbilaran Buslot Tanang Kalsada. Sought of his reaction on the health care issue, Gonzaga who highlighted his impressive credential at the University of the Philippines College of Law, said health care should be provided to senior citizens, children, women and those with special health needs. “Gusto ko nga buhion ang City Health Hospital ug maghimug bisan gamay lang nga diagnostic center.
” Gonzaga proposed. On tourism projects for the city, Gonzaga encouraged the training of tourist guides made up of tricycle drivers. Dapat ipakita sa mga transport operators nga kita maabi-abihon, he added. He also proposed the building of a convention center, “kay kini (convention center) makapadanig turista. Nangandoy pud ko to make a handicraft village pinaagi sa eco tourism.” he said. With regards to unemployment projects, Gonzaga believes in livelihood that promotes self-reliance and human dignity. “More investments and let’s make Tagbilaran a business-friendly city. Daghang negosyante, daghang trabaho.” he said. To prove that it was no faux pas to say good morning in an afternoon setting, Gonzaga concluded his speech with the greeting good evening to describe the current leadership that it’s time to pack up because it’s all over but the end of their term of office as city hall tenants.
By KAREN JOY LADESMA, DULCE BRENDA SALERA, LINFORD CHRISTIE BAYRON, LADY FATIMA SARABIA, LARAH DE JESUS, MARITESS QUINLOG