By DR. FLORANGEL ROSARIO BRAID
For a former military man to suggest the need for a ”listening government” is something novel, unexpected. But this is what Mayor Benjamin Magalong, now chief executive of Baguio City, and a retired general of the Philippine National Police, had said. And he is now recruiting advisers for the ten priority areas he had identified.
Magalong won the mayoralty by a sizable majority over his closest rival during the last election despite the lack of a machinery as well as previous political experience. The last time it happened was when lawyer Braulio Yaranon, my former classmate at UP, won in 2004 but governed only for a year because of an indifferent council. And Magalong said he would do the same thing as he sought help from his council to help him recruit 10 members of an advisory council that would help flesh out his 10 identified priority areas — speeding up government action, revitalizing the environment, innovating peace and order, aggressive traffic management, responsive education, empowering the youth, expanding health and social services, responsible tourism, enlivened culture, arts, and heritage, and market renovation.
Baguio’s population in 2015 which was 345,366 is expected to increase to 368,319 in 2019. But as a writer describes, “Baguio groans” because of its rising population and inadequacy of resources. Magalong hopes to address the problems and had started by locking up bars and restaurants that do not have permits for serving liquor, doing an inventory done on Internet connectivity, enjoining civil society groups to institutionalize reforestation of environmentally critical areas, declaring a moratorium on building high-rise commercial buildings and cutting of trees, a massive regreening, retrofitting of the Asin mini hydrogen plants, his flagship project, having a master plan for Burnham Park, and modernizing the Baguio City Market.
A magna cum laude graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, and former chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Magalong received 166 military and PNP achievement and merit medals for his combat and law enforcement accomplishments and 15 Outstanding Achievement Medals. But he was also imprisoned for three months after he admitted that he was involved in the failed coup attempt against the Arroyo government in 2006 together with members of the AFP and PNP. It is this same person who testified in the recent hearing of the “ninja cops” involved in the controversial drug raid in Pampanga. The current Senate investigation showed that the cops involved in the 2013 raid were merely demoted in what was described as a “cover-up” and that recently resigned PNP chief Oscar Albayalde was suspected as a protector when he was then police chief in Pampanga, where shabu worth P648 million was seized.
We look forward to the conclusion of this saga involving two generals and of course, a follow up of Mayor Magalong’s crusade for good government.
My e-mail, [email protected]