April 20, 2024

I voted for retired Gen. Benjamin Magalong during the two times he aspired for the mayorship of Baguio City.
I am happy that on both occasions, he won. Now that he is the incumbent mayor, I am satisfied with the way he is administering the city. He has shown a steel political will to do what is right. He has shunned the popular side of governance and is true to his oath to serve the city with utmost dignity, integrity, and pride.
With Magalong at the helm, Baguio is revitalized. Roads were expanded, illegal establishments were closed, cleanliness is at its peak, parks and other tourist destinations were improved to world class level.
The arrival of tourists and guests is unprecedented and the city is once more aptly the “Summer Capital of the Philippines.” And though at times the mayor is tough on his policies, he listens to dissent and affords everyone affected to air their side, showing to all and sundry that he respects due process which, in essence, is the crux of democracy.
Between the mayor and his task force, on one hand, and the people of Baguio on the other hand, there is a healthy exchange of conflicting ideas. When one party prevails, it is because the rule of law is on its side and not for anything else.
This is the extent to which Magalong bends to accommodate what is legal and not what is popular. At no point in his leadership have I felt any arrogance or despotism or communism from him. Democracy, as I understand it, is at its highest point here under the leadership of Magalong.
Hence, I was shocked as I was slighted when a popular program hosted by a charismatic religious leader and his analysts insinuated, without any reservation nor evasion, that Magalong is a sympathizer to the cause of the New People’s Army and the Communist Party of the Philippines. They said this because the amicable mayor refused to allow the posting of signs and billboards condemning the activities of the NPA. Neither did he sanction some protesters who were shouting slogans that were radical and against the government.
Magalong is a communist sympathizer? For me, this is totally baseless and smacks of malice. For one, the military background of Magalong proscribes any possible association with the “reds.” As far as I know, he was a frontline officer who fought against the communists head-on. He risked his life so that terrorism may be contained.
Second, Baguio City does not condone communism nor any act of terrorism. If, by any chance, the mayor is a sympathizer, the first to know will be the Baguio people, his constituents. Yet, his acts in this city are ratified and he keeps winning and winning, a testimony that he is a trusted servant of the Republic.
That the mayor refused to allow any posters or signs condemning all acts of terrorism to be placed in the city does not, by itself, indicate his ideological learning. There are rules and regulations when it comes to this kind of political propaganda and to refuse to abide by it does not make a person a traitor to the Republic.
Third, Magalong is adept and is well versed in the application of the Constitution. If he refused to abide by the pressure being exerted on him, it is because of his respect to the rights of others who may be affected.
It is time to rally behind our beleaguered mayor. He is not a traitor. In fact, he is the most democratic person I have ever known. The terrorists are those who rob the country at will and corrupt the people into perdition. Magalong is none of those.
He is a patriot who devoted more than half his life for public service. He should be thanked and not condemned.