Isko’s Ongpin statue clearing a warning to abusive bgy officials

It’s good to know that despite his relatively young age, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno is setting a very good example to all Filipinos, young and old, in terms of giving huge importance to our national heritage.

In just a matter of days since he assumed office on June 30, Moreno has cleared of all kinds of obstrurction at least five major monument sites in the city which are nearest City Hall.

The famous Plaza Lawton, which used to be a landmark plaza where a statue of Gat Andres Bonifacio stands and the historic Philippine Post Office is located, is no longer the site of an illegal terminal –thus a major source of unauthorized collections- for public utility vans and buses.

The monument of Gat Emilio Jacinto inside the Mehan Garden was ordered cleared of graffitis even as it had shown signs of neglect and had been vandalized for so long. Instead of the fresh scent of grass and trees since Mehan Garden, a historical site declared as such in 1934 by the National Historical Institute, is basically a botanical garden, smelly urine greeted Moreno when he went there to inspect.

In jest, Moreno said: ‘dapat yata dito Me-Amoy Garden na hindi na Mehan’ as he summoned the deparment of public services personnel present and directed them to sanitize and deodorize the whole area.

Then of course, the latest efforts of Moreno were directed at the Bonifacio Shrine which is just a stone’s throw away from his City Hall office and within eyesight from his office window. There, Moreno was greeted by the sight of countless mounds of human feces, on top of the urine stench that pervaded the air.

Moreno wanted to laugh it off plus the fact that he accidentally stepped on some poop but the sight was simply so shocking for him that he let out his expletives-laden reaction: ‘Hindi ako maarte pero naman, ang baboy talaga. Binaboy talaga si Bonifacio, talaga.’

The said shrine was surrounded by dirty, makeshift stalls selling food and other stuff without proper garbage disposal and running water and vagrants as well.

The so-called icing on the cake was the clearing made in the Chinatown district, specifically when Moreno removed a barangay outpost and a firetruck which have been put right in the site where the monument of revered Filipino-Chinese businessman-philantropist Roman Ongpin used to stand proud.

When Moreno arrived, immediately sought out Barangay Chairman Nelson Ty of Barangay 289, Zone 27 who reportedly built the makeshift barangay outpost, to personally ask him to tear it down.  After waiting for nearly 15 minutes and no one appeared, Moreno took the matter into his own hands, took a sledgehammer and hammered away. He was hailed by Barangay Chairmen Bernard Go whose jurisdiction is affected by the ugly sight and traffic caused by the said outpost, Fr. Andy Ortega Lim of the Basilica Menor de Binondo and Chinese residents and businessmen as well.

Moreno said he had been receiving complaints that the said outpost was being used as a venue where pedicab drivers are brought after being nabbed by barangay authorities for imagined ‘violations.’ Various Chinese organizations and businessmen also complained about the existence of the said outpost, described by them as an ‘icon of shame’ for years already.

The said outpost, they said, is an eyesore and a clear desecretion of the memory of Ongpin, so revered by the Chinese-Filpino community as in fact the main road in Chinatown had been named after him

Moreno had sent a clear message that under his rein, there is no room for abusive barangay officials.

Ty, in an interview later, reasoned out that he has no barangay quarters. Moreno’s reaction? ‘Kanya-kanyang dahilan na lang ‘yan.’

In my humble opinon, maybe Ty has never heard of the age-old saying,  ‘the end does not justify the means.’

I was told that Ty had been chairman in the said area for the past six years or so. It behooves any public official, barangay chairman included, to do what is right and proper and not lead in desecrating monuments which are built to perpetuate the memory of those who have helped shape our country’s rich history.

There are 896 barangays in Manila. Can you imagine if all 896 barangay chairmen, follow the same ‘reason’ and also build their respective barangay halls in the vicinity of famed monuments honouring the pillars of our history or in places declared as national heritage sites? If this is not abuse of power at the very least, I don’t know what is.


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