Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Domogan vs. (Molintas vs. Claravall)

That's the way it's going down, the incumbent against two challengers. And at first glance, common sense tells us that the former has the upper hand. Again.

To win against Domogan, one must not only get all the opposition votes, he must also get a substantial number off of the incumbent numbers. In the last election, after several landslide loses, Molintas got to close the gap - from the usual 20,000 vote-margin down to just around 4,000.

In 2013, Mauricio Domogan garnered 49.5% of the total votes cast for Mayor, he almost won by majority vote while Molintas got 44.7%. The rest was split between Jun Labo (3,000+) and perennial contender Hernandez along with Puzon and Mina who got negligible numbers.

49.5 percent. That's a big number, and getting a huge slice of that would be the holy grail for the opposition. It's actually a 4-cornered fight, but given Hernandez's dismal showing in 2013 (666 votes), maybe his candidacy would hardly matter in the end.

My two centavos' worth, based on what I see, hear, feel and their respective performances in the candidates' forum held last month at the Baguio Convention Center :

DOMOGAN, The Incumbent

He's gunning for a third and final(?) term as Mayor. His battle cry is this: continue the good work he's doing. Depends on where one is coming from, the promise may be a pro or a con.

He's been trumpeting the city's increased revenue over the last over two decades with him at the helm in one way or another - from below 500M to 2B. Of course he won't mention that it stayed at half a billion for 15 years or so before making that huge leap to a billion in .ca. 2008. But never mind that, fact is, Baguio's economy is on the up, and for those directly benefiting from the boom, a promise of continuity will be attractive.

But at what cost, that so-called boom? The environment under Domogan's reign hardly got any attention. It seemed like when it came to a choice between commerce and environmental sustainability, his administration seemed to have always favored the former. The direction in which he took this city is dangerously unsustainable. When the Mt. Sto. Tomas issue erupted, I don't recall any strong words from him about the damage that his congressman wreaked on a forest reserve, compromising the water supply of thousands of citizens. Instead, what I remember most is his hands-off remarks, and how sure he was that Aliping will able to explain and defend himself in the "proper forum."

He has shown very little regard for the city's heritage too with the fencing of City Hall and his stubborn stand to turn the Melvin Jones into a concrete parking facility.

Yet, the fact remains, he got 49.5% of the votes the last time, and he will remain as the choice of the apathetic and the shortsighted.

MOLINTAS, closer and closer then...

...Claravall finally threw his hat in the ring. In 2013, if we were to tally all the non-Domogan votes, that would have been 50.5%. Never mind Hernandez's 666, but the rest would have been enough to unseat Domogan. This time. Molintas would have just needed to step up his previous efforts to IP a bit to close the gap, but currently, the opposition votes are now divided between him and Claravall.

What's he putting on the table? His track record as a champion of the oppressed, being a human rights lawyer. He is forwarding a platform that balances equitable development and environmental protection. He is knowledgeable about the issues afflicting Baguio today, and his pronouncements during the forum were backed with facts and legal realities.

From where I was sitting, he did very well in that forum, I must admit.

CLARAVALL, the dark horse

I have been hearing of the former judge's name being floated since the early 2000's, I concede that there was some clamor for him to run. He almost did in 2013, but backed down due to unresolved issues with the Molintas camp - who's right or wrong depends on who you are more inclined to believe.

I have been eagerly waiting for what the former judge will put on the table since he filed his candidacy last year. I must say that I went to that candidates' forum last February specifically to hear his voice, and frankly, I was not satisfied. He kept to making motherhood statements hardly backing up his answers with facts and a clear vision on how to get it done. When asked about certain problems that Baguio is faced with today, his answers mostly focused on why they should be solved and not much on how he intends to solve them.

I said, well, cut him some slack - it was his first salvo in front of a large audience. Perhaps he was nervous, rattled, etc. Although a friend pointed out, and quite rightly so, that for someone who's presided over countless cases in his sala, handing down decisions with a bang of a gavel in front of an audience - public speaking should be a walk in the park.

His battle cry - "Bangon, Baguio, Bangon!" This will definitely strike a chord among the concerned, the citizens who care about the city beyond their fenced and gated homes. But to those who are just happy to be in a secure job or see their businesses grow, those who only see the opportunities that Baguio has to offer today, those who equate condominiums, hotels, overpriced donuts and coffee as a sign of progress, the question may be, "bakit kailangang bumangon kung hindi naman nakatumba ang Baguio?"

But, Claravall seem to come across as a breath of fresh air, that's something Baguio needs right now. Couple that with a more solid platform and game plan, and he's golden.

IN THE END, politics is numbers

Addition, addition, addition, as Rey Bautista Sr. used to emphasize during his son, Peter Rey's campaigns. Everything you do must be aimed at adding to your numbers. Domogan's promise of continuity may not add to his current numbers, but it will keep the contented citizens on his side.

Molintas will most likely lose some of his votes to newcomer Claravall, the key for him is to work hard to keep that loss to a minimum, and hope that Claravall will bite significantly into Domogan's share of the electoral pie.

As for Claravall, he must be able to convince the unsatisfied that he is the right man who can turn things around in Baguio. He needs a big slice off of Molintas' 39,000+ votes and some of Domogan's 44k. As for my one vote, I need more how's because I already know the why's.

If it's going to be a tight race, 34%, or 29,697 is what's needed to bag the Mayoralty race, leaving 66 percent which hopefully will be divided equally among the other two opponents.

Hernandez's 666 votes may matter, after all.

And my 1 vote goes to... hmmm, perhaps I'll wait a while longer.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Ask 'em too how'd they do it: THE BAGUIO THEY PROMISE

That's one thing Mauricio Domogan didn't exactly tell us when he promised, back in 2010, that he will solve the city's garbage problem in the first few months of his administration if he's made to sit as mayor again: HOW HE PLANNED TO DO IT.

Six years, two terms, and millions of pesos later, the problem persists.

But while I may have criticized him over policies - his proposal to cement over the Melvin Jones grounds for a parking facility and to put gates around Burnham Park, the fencing projects at City Hall, etc. - actions that I believed were contrary to the welfare of this city and its residents, the fact is Mauricio Domogan is my Mayor today, whether I voted for him or not. And as a resident of the city he leads, it is my responsibility to do my share to help uplift the quality of life of the people of Baguio.

This coming elections, Domogan is asking for another term: should we give him the chance? Running against him are:

- Perennial opponent who posted the biggest threat to Domogan's reign in the 2013 elections by trailing by only 4,000 votes as opposed to the 2010 elections where he trailed the incumbent by almost 20,000, and

- political returnee, former judge Del Claravall.

They will all promise us a lot of things, and with all the challenges that Baguio is facing today, hearing all those promises will give us a glimpse of the direction this city will take under the leadership of these candidates. But more than that, as a voter who isn't 100% decided yet, I'm really interested to know how exactly they plan to deliver those promises. I owe it to the city I call home to place her under a competent leadership, and The Baguio We Want Movement's local candidates' forum on Monday, March 7 may give me that opportunity.

For more information about the forum, click HERE to access the event page on Facebook.