Boys who grew up without the distraction of television and the computer games will remember the days when they would fight over turf. This is not for anything else but for the sense of being superior and in command. The dominance remains as long as others recognize and respect it.
The fight for turf begins with the drawing of a line on the ground. Those who cross it either joined or challenged the boy who drew the line. If one challenges, then the rumble ensued, otherwise there is peace in the area. Thus came the phrase, “drawing the line” to show who has dominion or jurisdiction of a turf.
In the bigger sense, we have national borders that the government protects against intruders and those who come in must enter in peace or denied entry. Otherwise, war comes.
The same thing is followed with government offices and agencies. The recent tiff between Bácolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia and Bácolod Congressman Anthony Golez is a quarrel over turf. Golez is so jealous of his turf over national agencies that he chided Leonardia for what he considered an invasion of his turf, or the national government agency, specifically the Department of Public Works and Highways in the Bácolod congressional district.
Leonardia should have known better – that is the message of Golez. The only problem is that Bácolod is also Leonardia’s turf and the DPWH is here in the city where Leonardia is king.
Some years ago, the DPWH was under the province and it was a cozy arrangement until the governor, Alfredo Montelibano, Jr. became mayor and continued to have a say on DPWH projects in the city.
Because of the rivalry of Cong. Romeo Guanzon and Montelibano, Guanzon felt that the mayor was invading his turf so that he worked for the establishment of the DPWH Bácolod District that was responsible to the congressman. I remember the District Engineer reporting to Cong. Guanzon on what priority projects the solon had. That took the DPWH away from the mayor.
There was no problem when the mayors and the congressmen were in friendly terms because they coordinated in the city and the national infrastructure projects. There was no finger-pointing or blame-kicking.
Both Golez and Leonardia are right and their position on matters of infrastructures and other projects and programs could have moved smoothly but they are now opposite sides of the line. Golez (or Leonardia) drew the line and now we can see the increasing conflict between the two.
Golez is right in that he should have the say on national project, but Leonardia is also right in that he is the mayor and what happens here is within his turf. In fact, Leonardia has the duty to inform the DPWH of his mind on the projects that the DPWH intends to undertake in the city. His fault appears to be that he wrote the DPWH directly and that riled Golez who is extremely jealous of his turf.
Golez’s problem is that he is not the DPWH, but a congressman and the projects that the DPWH initiates are not entirely his project. There are DPWH projects that were approved and funded long before Golez was congressman but he exercises influence, as a matter of courtesy and procedure, in the choice of district engineers and even on which contractor was to “win” the bids for the multi-million infra projects. This reality in Philippine governance, plus the huge pork barrel, makes the congressman a powerful person in the district and its projects.
Leonardia, to a large extent, violated Golez’s turf but from a legal and moral view, he did not because as the chief executive of the city he must have a say in these projects. In fact, what Leonardia did is within the rights of every citizen to write the engineer about his priorities that do not jibe with what the people wanted. We in media do that though, through our columns and broadcasts, and it is within our rights as voters of this country to send our feedback to public authorities without being afraid that he could get mad and we exchange unprintable names.
In a word, Golez should not have taken the letter suggestion of Leonardia as an insult but the situation is such that any action or word from Leonardia becomes as threat or a challenge to Golez’s turf.
If there is anything good in this silly exchange it is that Golez has drawn the line and therefore, any complaints about national projects or problems that fall within the responsibility of national office should now be squarely lodged on his lap.
Leonardia should not have taken offense, because Golez was doing him a favor. Leonardia can now wash his hands and throw into Golez’ doorsteps all that is wrong with national agencies.*
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