COMPARISONS ARE always odious. But they cannot be helped, especially between predecessors and successors – in electoral politics, most pronouncedly.
Thus, it was with Oscar Rodriguez and Edwin Santiago – the former’s shoes too big for the latter’s slippers.
Thus, it is with Santiago and Vilma Caluag. Period.
A matter of style, so his friends say of EdSa’s proclivity to seek the path of no resistance, most manifest in his “tapik” tactility and “ah, pare” diplomacy, leaving everyone wondering “an’yare”?
Not that nothing was ever accomplished in the nine years of Santiago at city hall. Far from it, rather than par for the EdSa course. The city civic center and the so-called tourism road are but two high profile manifestations of the edifice complex of Boy Tapik’s administration. Never mind who most benefitted from them, especially that stretch from MacArthur Highway to Calulut maliciously dubbed “EdSa’s Buy-the-way.” Fearing libel, further affiant sayeth naught.
It is just that Santiago’s perceived passivity has been highlighted all too brightly with Caluag’s momentum in fulfilling her mandate as city hizzoner, not simply observed but actually felt from Day One through her first 100 days, and counting.
By a fluke – it is providence, Mayor Vi’s faithful profess – the putative failures of the Santiago administration were among Caluag’s first triumphs. To Santiago’s further disfavor.
The scourge of motorists that was the unauthorized traffic light at Vista Mall that Santiago condoned well into the end of his term despite the public outcry, Caluag managed to decommission, two months into her term.
That P25-million bridge to nowhere in San Jose Panlumacan crossing to Del Pilar and the University of the Assumption, first exposed here in Punto in 2016, was finally opened last week: Caluag negotiating with the homeowners the right of way issues, compensation included, and thereafter mobilizing men and equipment to demolish all obstructions, and wangling a commitment from the DPWH to improve the bridge’s approaches.
Why, only this Tuesday, Oct. 4, ROW issues that restricted to a single lane a two-way bridge constructed three years ago in De La Paz Sur were resolved at Caluag’s initiative, paving the way for its “full use.”
Assured of their mayor’s support in their relocation and attendant needs, the concerned homeowners agreed to sign a notarized letter of consent to vacate their property obstructing the bridge.
For the longest time now since its establishment in 2008 under Mayor Oscar Rodriguez, the City College of San Fernando subscribed to stringent standards in accepting applicants, effectively depriving a vast number of willing and wanting Fernandino youth of a shot at tertiary education.
“Let us not be the ones to put a period to their aspirations for a brighter future,” so spoke Caluag before the CCSF board and administration, enjoining a review of the standards to make the college more accessible “even to the average but striving students.”
The result: 849 applicants initially refused admission were qualified after reassessment.
The traffic light, the bridges, the CCSF reassessment of its admission policies – none of these even factored in Caluag’s election campaign. They were all a matter of her cleaning up after Santiago, so to speak.
Much like the new City Public Market Plaza. Ballyhooed as a project conceived, constructed, and completed in Santiago’s time, the market – to Caluag’s consternation – failed basic compliance with fire safety standards, precluding its operation.
Her heart bleeding with the vendors cooped up in makeshift stalls on the city sidewalks to eke what little came their way for the duration of the pandemic, Mayor Vilma courted legal action when she ordered the opening of the market, this after seeking and getting the support of BFP for interventions – fire trucks deployed at the market premises pending the installation of the Santiago neglected fire safety systems.
As promised during the election campaign, so delivered within Caluag’s first 100 days in office is the establishment of the CSFP Hemodialysis Center, a realization of her very brainchild of a free dialysis program for Fernandinos.
Even as the city government’s partner firm Luzon Medical System was delivering the center’s 25 machines and 25 chairs that can accommodate up to 75 patients, the enrollment of beneficiaries was already being undertaken by city health workers.
Unarguably the most sterling of Caluag’s achievements so far, the center has already earned high marks from the DOH and a benchmarking visit from the local government of the City of San Fernando, La Union.
And to think that the sangguniang panlungsod pooh-poohed the center when Caluag presented it as a PPP venture keeping the city coffers untouched!
Aye, the SP, at this early, is already making the big difference between the mayoralties of Santiago and Caluag – amicable to the former, adversarial to the later.
Still, the successor is already proving even at this early to all and sundry that she succeeded her predecessor not only to the post but more so in performance.
Her will, his will not. That is why comparisons are always odious.