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A battle of wills

Nora Soriño .

ILIGAN City — “If there’s a will, there’s a way,” so it is said. So now, I see this kind of battle here in this city. I call it a battle of wills but it could be a battle of wits, too.

“Lilipas din ang lahat ng ito at tatanda rin tayo.” Thus said retired prosecutor Samson Dajao. He said he’s quoting Mayor Celso G. Regencia — although I don’t think the original quote comes from the mayor.

Dajao is among the cast of characters in this “will battle.” The mayor and his men are on the opposite sides in this “tango criminal.” Wait. Why does tango-ing coming into the picture? Now while we’re at it now, we’ll just say that tango like a “battle” takes two. Two sides, I mean.

Yet this isn’t tango at all. This is a battle. Of will power. And while we’re at it, on the tango, I mean, which they say is “a vertical expression of a horizontal desire.” But in a battle? A battle is waged because there is also some desire on the cast of characters. Yet unlike tango, the “desires” of the opposing camps do not jibe.

Without further ado, let’s proceed to this particular battle which is between one San Ramos and 19 vendors or so on one hand, and the city government led by who else but CGR (Regencia) on the other?

Ramos has leased his place to these vendors, so it becomes a “mini-market” in the eyes of the city. There shouldn’t be any other market, they say. Hence, the padlocking early last week of that place. This is in Palao, near the demolished public market which now looks like some “ruins” in the city’s center from some bombs that hit it. The vendors there had been transferred recently and with much “strong will power” from the city personnel. Like, “Transfer there or else!”

The “there” is at a place called “temporary market” in the area of Iligan Bus and Jeepney Terminal (IBJT) in Tambo.

The vendors say that something is very wrong there. Even the customers and the public agree with them. Then city administrator Leo Zaragoza had to agree and to own such “lapses.” Like no proper ventilation there, the ceilings too low and the waters cascading like waterfalls. “Who is the contractor of this temporary market, the cost of which seems ah, ‘permanent’?” (About P43m but CGR’s defenders say it’s lower than that.)

But that’s water under the bridge now. Meaning, “past.” The vendors are now settled there, albeit reluctantly, grudgingly, doing their selling of their wares at IBJT at Tambo.

Except for San Ramos, et al. And many others, too. Ramos has allowed his place at Palao to be used by vendors selling fish and other goods in his area. It’s around 150 sq/m in area and with that there are many vendors there.

So CGR caused the padlocking of Ramos’ place — meaning, they have to go to the designated markets, really. Retired colonel Leony Roy Ga, CGR’s candidate for representative for the city’s lone district in the May elections, led the padlocking.

Not to be bothered very much by such acts, the vendors used another opening and continued selling their wares there, and their customers were able to see where to enter, too. So, it’s business as usual.

The city then got wind of it, and the other entrance was barricaded, too.

What to do? Ramos and Co. then implored the services of Dajao. The latter then obliged, saying among other things, that in the process of helping the poor who need his help, he is “serving God in the process.” He even quoted Sen. Manny Pacquiao whom he said something like, “I am nothing but God made me into something.”

He also quoted James Madison: “Many times, oppression and tyranny by men come in the form of fighting against crime.” (I think I got to google who this Madison is.) Or something like that. This referred to who else but CGR and his men, like Ga who, he said, is “not employed… only a consultant and in that case, he can only do so much, like negotiating.” Not “actioning” as in doing the as padlocking.

This is a private place, not a public place — meaning, city hall is violating the human rights of Ramos, et al.?

Dajao though admitted there are some “grey areas.”

So the camp of CGR and Ramos decided to “talk.” At city hall grounds.

When media got wind of it, some of them went there. Maybe it was a “hush-hush” affair as it was not held on schedule. The venue was transferred, too. It was held nonetheless.

Among other things, Dajao said lawyer Dexter Sumaoy, a city official, was “arrogant.” He added also that the decision to close Ramos’ place was “from 12 or 13 bright boys” who supposedly whispered into CGR’s ears.

So, we, Sita, Frank and I, went over the place to see with our own eyes if the “mini-market” which the city hated was still there; Hermie told this corner that the vendors just “tunol” the goods which implied that those who patronized their goods were not able to enter the place because there were iron barricades, courtesy, like I said, of the city government?

There was really a market there! And the “iron barricades”? These were just shoved aside and the customers just entered Ramos’ place. On its now side entrance, there were two big tarpaulins. One tarp had these words: “Closure Order” by CGR.

Not to be outdone though, there was a huge tarp displaying some business permit. The people swarming about the place of course did not mind the tarps. Aside from the vendors inside, there were sidewalk vendors, displaying fruits, and other goods. It did seem to rival the temporary market at IBJT!

“This is really a battle of wills,” I said to Lino a friend who had come over for some buying there.

“No, this is a battle of ‘shalls,’” he said in jest referring to “will” and “shall” in English classes. Needless to say, “will” refers to a “strong determination.”

“I’m serious,” I said, but with a smile though I knew that was no laughing matter.

“Seriously laughing,’’ he said and we laughed and the others I mentioned couldn’t help laughing, too, as they looked at the two tarps.

There really was no indication at the moment as to who will win in this battle of wills, I thought.

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