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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, January 4, 2018
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What's for this year


This is the time of the year to usually take a look at the 365 days just past and assess where the present year is going, what challenges there are and what prospects are in the horizon to give us hope that things will be better this year than the last. As the wise would say to dream costs nothing while hope gives us strength.

Certainly everyone has an assessment according to his or her experience in 2017 and to predict or at least anticipate what is in store for this year. Each to his own assessment and each to his own decision on what 2018 can become.

Just before the year ended, a national survey came out with a conclusion: most Filipinos believe this year, 2018, will be better. We are a proverbially optimistic people, proverbial because we say the same thing every start of the year and don't bother whether we were proven right or wrong. What it also means is that we considered the previous year as not good enough that we hope it would be different, better, this time. After all government statements promise a good year even as Congress passed a law that would impose higher taxes on fuel, the primary mover or restricting factor in development through its ripple effects. Contrary to claims of the Congress, higher taxes means higher prices that reduced income taxes cannot compensate. The non-earners, like pensioners, will be hit hard.

The challenges of Bacolod are, ironically the same as last year and the year before that. The only change is that we will call for accountability whether they like it or not or whether they will rant or smile or shut us up.

The issue of traffic gluts, garbage, illegal structures, potable water shortage, illegal drugs and gambling - the list is long for us to discuss this year with hope that the problems will be minimized if not resolved. However, unless the city government gathers enough guts to finally cut the Gordian Knot that these problems have become the problems this year will spill over till next years.

I wrote a series on these nasty things but looking at hindsight there will be more in 2018 considering the lackluster, perfunctory action by agencies and offices concerned, if they moved at all. We can expect then to deal with these issues more forcefully because to be coy or silent about them is to tolerate the neglect and allow them to worsen.

The election fever will begin to warm up considering that in October those who intend to run for public office in 2019 will have to file their certificates of candidacies by October. It will take a long time for Comelec to print the ballots because the election process is automated. In fact there are two possible candidates against the incumbent Mayor Evelio Leonardia and alliances are breaking up. The 2019 election will thus be exciting.

However, there are “whispers” about no election, adoption of federalism and declaration of a revolutionary government. They are wrapped in the same package. As we peel off the pages of the 2018 calendar we will know whether these rumors will develop into reality or just whimper.

The gubernatorial seat will be up for grabs and if indeed the ruling PDP party had given Governor Alfredo Marañon the authority to choose the provincial candidates, there will be a toss up between Vice Governor Bong Lacson and former 4 th District Congressman Jeffry Ferrer. Do we see a third possibility? Not if the governor makes the choice!

I think the New People's Army will be unable to launch a major offensive but definitely it will periodically attack soft targets to show that it is still a force to worry about. What would be troubling for the rebels is the event Duterte succeeds in getting the courts and eventually the UN to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines, the National Democratic Front, the NPA and their collaborators or comrades as terrorists. They will no longer be charged with political but common crimes.

This year the projects of the big investors will start operation. That will be good for the economy because they will create employment, but they will also siphon money from Negros and remit them to Manila while creating horrendous traffic gluts and more garbage piles. More garbage contracts?*






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