A balm for Mayor Treñas

By Herbert Vego

THIS writer has known Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Perez Treñas since the 1980s when he was a practicing lawyer, not yet a politician. He would often treat me and my colleague Neri Camiña to lunch at the defunct Tavern. Not once did we see him fume mad.

I feel sad now that he occasionally barks unprintable words against media people who offend him. For a re-electionist politician, it is an act of self-destruction. Payong kapatid, no offense meant.

I understand that his present “madness” stems from an allegation that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) had placed the mayor under investigation for full redevelopment of century-old Iloilo City Central Market by SM Prime Holdings Inc., which was granted a 25-year lease agreement by the city government.

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) had reportedly approved reconstruction of the building, but not including its facade.

Its preservation as one of the seven heritage sites is mandated by the National Heritage Act of 2009, which the then congressman Treñas himself had authored.

As a lawyer and public official, he knows that cursing a journalist for criticizing him does not make him credible and adorable. It merely validates the Ilonggo adjective thrown at him, “kutós” — hot-tempered, getting angry on the slightest provocation.

Anyway, the mayor has apologized and echoed Commissioner Ivan Henares’ explanation that UNESCO is not actually investigating the project for whatever reason. Let us take his word for its literal value – that the market’s façade is no longer structurally sound, hence could no longer be saved without endangering the market’s occupants.

Of course, he has the right to sue Nereo for libel. But as a friend older than the mayor, may I advise him to cool off with a balm of clear conscience?



YESERDAY’S newspaper headlines screamed, “Zubiri resigns as Senate president.”

It was a forced, face-saving move to avoid the humiliation of being ousted. He knew that a simple majority of 13 out of 24 senators would have voted him out to install Francis Escudero as the new president.

In his farewell speech, he said, “I offer my resignation as Senate President of the Republic of the Philippines, and upon stepping down I vow to serve as an independent member of the Senate” two days before the end of the second regular session of the 19th Congress.

It was like admitting he had not shown independence before. He had tried but failed to hide his subservience to the former president, Rodrigo Duterte.

“You know we’re not enemy of the powers that be,” he said. “But because we’re not following instructions, we were targeted.”

Hmm, it was clear he was insinuating that the President had made instructions to his Senate allies to oust him.

Indeed he erred in having Sen. Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa grill a dismissed PDEA agent Jonathan Morales over “PDEA leaks” that would show Pres. Marcos and actress Maricel Soriano sniffing cocaine together in a condo unit a long time ago. There was no shred of official document to back up the narrative told by Morales.

Bato has always been associated with Duterte, whose intention is to manipulate the public into calling for Marcos’ resignation so that his daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte, could take over.

New Senate President Francis Ecudero is in a better position to claim “independence” because his candidate for President in 2016 was not Duterte but then VP Leni Robredo.

So, now, will he be strong enough to oppose the wish of BBM to do the economic “cha-cha” that could also abolish term limits of certain politicians?  After all, there is no Escudero political dynasty yet.