It is already less than two weeks to Election Day but Malacañang is still doing a dirty trick that has left citizens of San Pedro, Laguna, in an uproar. Last April 5, the Palace issued an order removing Mayor Calixto R. Cataquiz as mayor of the municipality, purportedly to implement a Supreme Court ruling that bars his “reemployment” in the government, which stemmed from an administrative case lodged against him almost a decade ago when he was the general manager of the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA).
A popular mayor of San Pedro, having served at that post for 20 years off and on, Cataquiz is running for reelection. His opponent is Vice Mayor Norvic Solidum of the Liberal Party, who will succeed as mayor if Cataquiz is suspended. Obviously, the suspension order is intended to give Solidum an advantage: He will be the mayor in the last few days before the elections. Malacañang wants to make him mayor even before he gets elected, if at all.
This is a dirty trick, not only on Cataquiz but also on the people of San Pedro. The signature of one person in Malacañang will overrule the voices of tens of thousands of townsfolk who will vote for Cataquiz. Why don’t they just wait a few more days when the voters of San Pedro will decide who they want to be their mayor?
Cataquiz was appointed officer in charge of San Pedro by President Corazon Aquino after the People Power Revolt of 1986. After that, he won three consecutive terms (1988 to 1998) as mayor of the municipality.
After serving as mayor, Cataquiz was appointed general manager of the LLDA. It was while he was in that position that an administrative case was filed against him. After almost 10 years, the decision was issued only now, just a few days before the elections.
Malacañang claims it is merely implementing a ruling of the Supreme Court barring Cataquiz’s “reemployment” in the government. But Malacañang did not understand the high court’s ruling. The ruling merely barred Cataquiz from being “appointed” to a government position; it does not cover “elective” positions. This is evident in the ruling, “Noted Without Action,” on a petition to include as an accessory penalty the removal of Cataquiz from his elective position as mayor. In other words, the high court barred Cataquiz from being appointed to another government post, but not from his position as mayor to which he was elected by the people.
The people of San Pedro will have a chance to decide whether they still want Cataquiz to be their mayor on May 13. Let us wait for their decision.
Cataquiz has been credited with transforming San Pedro into a city, which would mean better public service to the people.
Luckily, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas has remained level-headed. He has withheld implementation of the Malacañang order until the people of San Pedro cast their votes and verdict on May 13. After the elections, there will be a plebiscite in San Pedro to ratify or reject its cityhood.
Parenthetically, the people of San Pedro are also aware that Cataquiz fought off maneuvers by Vice Mayor Solidum and allies to prevent San Pedro’s march to cityhood by attempting to carve out Barangay San Vicente from its jurisdiction and convert it into a new municipality so they will have their own political kingdom.
Malacañang, the Liberal Party, Vice Mayor Solidum, let us wait for the elections, which are only a few days away, to see who the people want to be their mayor.
* * *
Headline in yesterday’s business section of the Inquirer: “NFA to import 187,000 tons of rice.”
Only a few days ago, the Department of Agriculture announced that the Philippines will export rice. Now, which is which? Are we going to export or import rice? If we are already more than self-sufficient in rice, as the DA claims, why do we have to import 187,000 tons of rice as buffer stock? If we are short of rice, why export some of the grain? Are the DA and the National Food Authority even talking to each other? Is the rice-export press release only propaganda for the DA?
And then what happened to the tons and tons of smuggled rice seized by the Bureau of Customs? Will these be sold at public auction so the smugglers can successfully bid for them? Shouldn’t the BOC turn these over to the NFA to add to its buffer stock? But of course there are a lot of commissions to be had in rice importation.
Lastly, if we have enough rice, why do smugglers have to bring in more rice? The answer is that Philippine-grown rice is more expensive than rice grown in other rice-producing countries like Vietnam, Thailand and India. The cost of producing rice here is more costly because of lack of government support to farmers. The only support from the government is the barring of rice importation by anyone else except the NFA, and the provision of price support to locally grown rice. Which makes locally grown rice costly. And this gives an incentive to rice smugglers. Smuggled rice is cheaper because there is no payment of duties and taxes.
* * *
Here’s good news not only for specialists in nuclear medicine but also practitioners in family medicine, internal medicine, endocrinology, cardiology and oncology:
There will be an 8th International Conference on Radiopharmaceutical Therapy sponsored by WARMTH (World Association of Radiopharmaceutical Therapy) at the Sofitel hotel on Nov. 17-21. It will be hosted by the Philippine Society of Nuclear Medicine, which is inviting sponsors to the trade exhibition and scientific discussions.
Over 600 participants from all over the world are expected to attend the conference.