President Rodrigo Duterte has barely two months remaining in his term. That is the period with which he can still make his name a by-word in the consciousness of the thousands of pensioners in the entire country. 

     We are actually referring to the additional P2,000 in monthly Social Security Systems (SSS) pension for private employee retirees given by law which he himself signed early in his term. Because of the supposed lack of funds in the SSS the President agreed to have the pension hike given in two installments. The first P1,000 was immediately after the signing of the law and the second was slated to be released by the time the pension funds will be substantial to cover the cost. Of course every pensioner was hoping the additional amount will be released still during the incumbent President’s term. But from the looks of it, their waiting is likely in vain.

     We do not know if the President has forgotten his commitment or that he believes entirely the justification by the SSS that it cannot give the second P1,000 because of lack of funds. But we also have this inkling that His Excellency might not have been reminded, purposely or otherwise, by his advisers about his promise. Or he might not have been reading or watching and hearing news from the various media outlets (perhaps isolated) reason why he seems to be clueless on the pleas of the pensioners especially the ones who are ageing.

     But even as we believe that the 2-months window is real short, still as President he can make miracles happen when it comes to providing benefits to people to whom these are due. The President can easily assemble his financial managers and brainstorm on how to find sources that can help the SSS pool the money needed to pay for the additional P1,000 hike in the monthly pension as promised and as provided by law. That is, if he wills it.

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     Vice Presidential candidate Walden Bello was really trying to test the mettle of the Davaoenos and their councilors who had earlier declared the maverick aspirant a “persona non grata” which act made Walden an unwelcomed visitor to the city at any time.

     But how far up has the guts of the city councilors gone? Imagine if we have to believe in their statement that the activist VP bet went to the session hall and even seated himself on the chair for the presiding officer at the podium “without permission.” Bello was in Davao City to personally submit his affidavit answer to a cyber libel suit filed against him by the former City Information Officer resulting from a Bello statement against the then CIO.

     Even acting Mayor Baste Duterte in his very civil language on Bello’s appearance in the city for his case, appeared reconciliatory. He was kind of giving the VP candidate, a “shot at redemption.”

     With this development we are tempted to believe that the move of the City Council to declare Bello an unwelcomed visitor anywhere else in the city was just a “spur of the moment” thing. It was done as a matter of a not well thought-of reaction to an erstwhile derogatory statement of an aspirant running against a Davaoena candidate with hardly a chance of winning. May be that could be his way of standing up against a granite-strong vertical wall for his own political ambition.

     Like it or not, his “invasion” at the Council Session Hall made him a subject of talks by Davaoenos for a short while. And that might have buoyed up a little Bello’s hope for election as VP — a long, long, long shot though.

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     For some time years ago we had been able to work with Congressman Vincent Garcia in some of his Rural Electrification projects in the upland barangays in Paquibato district. Contrary to some comments on him as the persona of the elite in Davao City what we have observed him doing was the total opposite to the description.

    Once we worked together on the energization of an interior village in Barangay Callawa where we met with residents to define responsibilities and other obligations they have to do in order to perpetuate the project. Instead of hurriedly finishing the interaction Vincent allowed the meeting to last as what the residents wanted to. Meaning he did not manifest fear of getting out of the village late and the possibility of being ambushed by rebels who were known aplenty in the peripheries of the inland barangay at that time. And to think that he stood out among those present being a Congressman. He did not even have a bodyguard except his driver.

     And what surprised the villagers was the so-called “elite” congressman sharing the very modest food prepared by the residents. It amazed us as well. This experience of ours with the congressman was repeated a lot of times in other areas where we have to get involved in his project of providing electricity — an urban amenity – to the most rural of places in his district.

     It’s been years since we last met and we have no idea if the Vincent now is the same Congressman Vincent Garcia that we knew before. If nothing has changed in him, then we know that his challenger will be up for an uphill battle. 

     For comments and/or reactions we can be reached through the following: e-mail address at victorino.sumalinog@yahoo.com; Mobile No. 09392980435; and Landline 2372169.

 


Source: Mindanao Times ( https://mindanaotimes.com.ph/2022/04/23/60125/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=60125)