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Mega Cebu

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The catchy phrase outlines the series of candidates’ fora which reels off on Wednesday at the Cebu Cultural Center of the University of the Philippines Cebu in Lahug, Cebu City.

The series of discussions aims to break the surface of the candidates’ platforms of government by linking it to the Metro Cebu Development and Coordinating Board or MCDCB’s urban development vision.

Metro Cebu is composed of the cities of Cebu, Carcar, Naga, Talisay, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and Danao and the towns of San Fernando, Minglanilla, Cordova, Consolacion, Liloan and Compostela.

The 6.6-percent national economic growth is evident in Metro Cebu with a population estimated at 2.5 million.  In the Mega Cebu concept, the total island population will rise to 12 million within three decades. Thus, the need for strategic, unified and concerted development efforts is not only necessary but urgent and public officials should well adapt to the Mega Cebu challenge in such concerns like traffic and transport, infrastructure, urban planning and land use.

Candidates also need to showcase their leadership skills in programs that promote peace and order.  Plans for job generation, livelihood and housing as well as environment, health and waste management are broad anti-poverty strokes.

All these concerns come out almost universal to Mega Cebu cities and towns but each of these areas should be able to preserve and assert its own identity and unique charm, so to speak, through projects in the areas of local tourism.

The candidates’ forum will help voters in their choices come May 13, but on the other hand, the project will also help initiate many local government officials to “trans-boundary” development. Many politicians are so parochial in their outlook that their vision is limited only by narrow agenda. We can’t be forever constrained by selfish interests because Cebu is bursting at the seams.

The Mega Cebu Candidates Fora is spearheaded by the Metro Cebu Development and Coordinating Board (MCDCB), a cluster of government entities composed of seven cities and six towns on the one hand, and institutional partners in the private sector on the other.  The list includes the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI), Couples for Christ, Cebu Business Club, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to name a few.  Regional government agencies like the Philippine Information Agency and National Economic Development Authority Neda are also on board. Cebu Daily News is the institutional media partner.

There are five Mega Cebu candidates’ fora. This corner will moderate the first, third and fifth rounds, while CDN colleague Ricky Poca will handle the second and fourth sessions. We are deeply honored by the assignment and I certainly hope the program will go beyond the 2013 elections.

* * *

Former Cebu vice governor John Gregory “John-John” Osmeña was in CDN’s front page last Thursday to emphasize the recent Sandiganbayan ruling that cleared his name in the bogus Perdido Lex foundation.

The scandal broke out in 2004 when the young Osmeña was still the incumbent vice governor and was still chummy with now suspended governor Gwendolyn Garcia. Their interests collided that same year when John-John ran for governor against Gwen in a three-cornered fight that included former 4th district Congressman, now Bogo Mayor Celestino “Junie” Martinez. The race became very hot because John-John’s father, former senator John “Sonny” Osmeña supported Junie.

John-John and Sonny suffered defeat in the 2004 polls but I think more than the latter’s first ever failed electoral bid, his biggest letdown was the rift with his son. That was nine years ago and I wonder how Sonny feels seeing his junior looking hale and hearty in the picture, seemingly enjoying time off in the Colorado golf course.

As a mother of one and auntie to dozens of nephews and nieces, I am always gladdened to see young people making something out of their lives. What happened to John-John maybe a setback in the political realm, but to be able to rise above failures, finding peace and contentment in the present, and hopefully forging reconciliation in the process, would be to me, the most important point in his life.

John-John’s story is a work in progress. I hope that he will not just “allow” time, that is, leave things to chance, in seeking settlement with his father, but really seek the opportunity to make it happen.

* * *

Talking about the colorful Sonny Osmeña, reports say he is making headway in Toledo City’s mayoralty race where he is running against incumbent Mayor Aurelio Espinosa.

Previous media interviews had quoted the former senator as having certain issues with the Liberal Party and LP gubernatorial bet Hilario Jun-Jun Davide III, so Sonny pledged to support for One Cebu candidate Pablo John Garcia.

I wonder if Sonny still feels the same way after re-reading the Sandiganbayan judgement on the Perdido Lex case because the court’s dismissal of the case against John-John was anchored on the “frame up” theory.

The question of who could have benefited from John-John’s public disgrace and humiliation lingers and whether or not Sonny would factor this in his final choice of a gubernatorial candidate remains to be seen.


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