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FIRING LINE: Accountability, Mr. Mayor

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

The good people of Baguio City have mixed feelings over recent events that led to their mayor resigning his post as national contact tracing “czar”. The city has always been proud of Mayor Benjamin Magalong, especially when he wore his police badge with unyielding principle.

So, being the man he is — and of course the embarrassment of being in that Tim Yap party in which minimum health protocols were tossed to the wind — I found it expected and void of drama that Magalong tendered his irrevocable resignation.

At least, it helps correct misconceptions (or perhaps the truth) that the wealthy have been gallivanting amid this pandemic because they can afford to do so. They are well connected; they have handsome health insurance policies; they have people doing dirty and risky errands for them; they take swab tests as often as their travails require; their money is good anywhere; and, bottom-line, they won’t be held accountable for their indiscretions.

In announcing his resignation, Magalong explained his decision best of all: “It’s all about accountability.” Then, of course, his local government slapped everyone in the party — the birthday celebrator and Magalong’s wife included — fines for not wearing masks and violating the physical distancing protocol.

Certainly, his resignation won’t change the fact that the moneyed would thrive better in this pandemic. But it should remind us of its ugliness to the world, where most families are cooped up in their homes counting days without grocery money and the government in a dilemma of how to jumpstart the stalled economy.

It was the right move for this mayor who, by the way, is known for iron-handedly dealing with his constituents who violate the same health protocols. There are residents waiting to see his wife made to stand at the Baguio Athletic Bowl to be lectured by police — just the way ordinary citizens are punished.

*              *              *

Speaking of mayors, I would like to make a shoutout to Mayor “Isko” Moreno. Sir, what’s happening to the business tax assessment of retail and services establishments there in Manila?

I don’t mean to pull or twist your ear, but haven’t you heard of the complaints that 2020 tax assessments have been nearly identical to 2019 computations? How could that be when sales have plummeted in the most inauspicious year in our lifetime?

Is it true that the people now at the City Treasurer’s Office are “amateurs”, so they have just been reenacting past-year’s computations?

Amid these questions, here’s one truthful answer I can give you, sir: Many of these establishments that have been exorbitantly billed are permanently closing shop.

*              *              *

SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at https:/thephilbiznews.com

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