BCDA harassing SM and its contractorBy Neal H. Cruz
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The happiest news after the elections so far: The Jalosjos clan was thrashed by the voters in the Zamboanga Peninsula. Of the 14 clan members fielded, only one made it: Councilor Rosalina Jalosjos, who was elected mayor of Dapitan City, the bailiwick of the clan. Earlier, the candidacies of patriarch Romeo Jalosjos and his brother Dominador Jr. were voided by the Commission on Elections because of their criminal convictions, Romeo for child rape and Dominador for robbery.
The clan tried to expand its hold from its bailiwick to the entire peninsula by fielding six members for various posts in Zamboanga del Norte, four in Zamboanga del Sur, two in Zamboanga Sibugay, one in Misamis Occidental, one in Zamboanga City, and one in Dapitan. All but one of them lost.
Congratulations to the Zamboangeños. They finally broke the chains with which the Jalosjos clan had bound them. May other voters ruled by political dynasties achieve the same feat in future elections.
The sorriest news: Many more political dynasties maintained their hold on some provinces, cities and municipalities. And in the Senate race, only three—Grace Poe, Loren Legarda, and Antonio Trillanes—out of 12 winning candidates are not members of political dynasties. The silver lining is that the top two winners—Poe and Legarda—are not dynasty members. Hopefully, more dynasty members will be rejected by the people in future elections. The Zamboangeños showed that it can be done. Let us all follow their example.
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People are talking about so many “what ifs” and “what could haves.”
• What if Edward Hagedorn had shaved? Would he have gotten more votes? People say that with his beard and moustache, he looks like a movie villain, so unlike the clean-shaven Fernando Poe Jr. who played the role of Hagedorn in a biopic.
• What if Toby Tiangco, campaign manager of the UNA ticket, did not sport that animé hairdo and did not dye his hair? Would more UNA senatorial candidates have made it to the winning circle?
• What if Risa Hontiveros did not have that silly television commercial showing her flicking her trademark purple alampay at the camera? Could she have gotten more votes? The director of the commercial who told her to do it must have been working for UNA.
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A video footage circulating in the Internet has caught the attention of viewers. It showed how SM and its contractor were harassed by security personnel of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) at a project site in Taguig City last May 6.
The video grab showed BCDA chief Arnel Casanova, accompanied by security personnel armed with high-caliber weapons (the Comelec gun ban was still in force then), arriving at the construction site of the SM Aura Premier to stop the contractor from proceeding with the road construction in front of the mall.
Both camps—the BCDA and the contractor—are in possession of contrasting orders. The contractor has an order to proceed with the road construction from the Taguig City government, which owns the land leased by SM. On the other hand, the BCDA storm troopers led by Casanova and a man who identified himself as a security officer claimed that they have instructions to stop the construction.
The 30-story, mixed-use SM Aura Premier building is finished. It is scheduled to formally open today. That is why the contractor was rushing the paving of the road leading to it. Some of its floors have already been leased by government agencies.
The land on which SM Aura Premier stands used to be part of Fort Bonifacio. That portion was turned over to Taguig City. As owner, Taguig leased two parcels at the civic center—the 2007 lease with an area of 15,000 square meters, and the 2008 lease with an area of 18,975 square meters. Total area: 33,975 square meters. SM won the bidding. SM proceeded with the construction of the building after getting a project approval from the Taguig government.
The BCDA claims that it owns the road right-of-way leading to the building, the road that passes through the McKinley Parkway and leads to Forbes Park and then to Edsa, the nearest route. With the closure of that road, the public would now have to go through a long circuitous route to reach it. There is a law that guarantees the owner of a property surrounded by land owned by others a right-of-way to the nearest major road. The SM Aura Premier case is one such case.
During the confrontation, a representative of the Taguig government arrived with some traffic management personnel to attest to the authenticity of the SM contractor’s permit to construct the road. The BCDA contingent disregarded it. The video grab showed that they were able to stop the road construction by placing concrete barriers at the entrance to the road, guarded by heavily armed men.
The security officer even called for two trucks to park on the access road to disrupt the construction. One of the trucks remains in the area with all its tires removed.
Until now, the road remains closed to those who want to go not only to the SM building but also to other establishments in the area.
What’s happening to BCDA officials? If they have a problem with Taguig leasing the city-owned property to SM, they should settle it between the two of them. SM, as the winning bidder, claims it has invested more than P3.5 billion for the building, which will be occupied by government offices and call centers, a convention center and a chapel, among others.
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