by Floro Mercene
Politicians of today, for lack of historical sense, prefer the lure of money to investing in endeavors that leave long-lasting legacies. This misplaced perspective has cropped up in the case of Dagupan City, where the city hall, a true heritage and landmark of the place, is being proposed for relocation.
The move to transfer the iconic structure is the brainchild of City Mayor Belen Fernandez whose brother Kerwin is the owner of the 1.2-hectare donated land, a property at the center of the city’s fishpond industry. In the first place, the idea of relocation could not have surfaced had the City Council been an opposition.
Mayor Fernandez, without saying the move would benefit his brother’s land assets in terms of valuation, wrote the City Council seeking authorization for the transfer. Predictably, the local legislature gave its blessing to transform the fishpond.
What added resolve to the city leadership to pursue the agenda despite strong public dissent and call for propriety, was the legal opinion of the city auditor the transfer does not violate the law on anti-graft and corrupt practices.
This argument is flawed. Why would a donated land go back to the original owner? If the fishpond site has been lined up for donation, the donor should be generous to allow the new owner to choose the use of the property.
The proposed site at Barangay Pantal does not qualify as a model government center. Accepting the donation, which the City Council is seriously pursuing, will cost the public close to a billion pesos.
In order to pay the huge loan, it is not farfetched to say the City Council will legislate new tax measures to meet the capital and interest obligations, something that can be greatly reduced if the focus will be on renovating and expanding the historic city hall.