March 1, 2024

We were monitoring from Barcelona, Spain the news about the outbreak of acute gastroenteritis (AGE) incidents in Baguio City. The latest news that I was told about was the city council hearing on the matter last Monday.
We were informed by an observer that in the said hearing, the City Health Services Officer declared that at its peak, about 3,000 suffered from diarrhea after ingesting drinks served by food establishments, chiefly found at SM, and after testing showed the positive presence of E. coli or coliform.
With this information, a class suit for damages is being contemplated by the victims of AGE against the said mall, which allows the food houses to continue to operate thus posing a health hazard to the public.
Aside from directing the Baguio Water District to conduct tests in its deep wells and its rainwater harvesting facilities, and appealing to the residents to drink only boiled water or bottled water, there was nothing done about the finding that the “common denominator” of the AGE outbreak was from SM.
We have yet to hear from the CHSO chief herself about the initial, not the subsequent, findings of the test on the SM cisterns. A market vendor allegedly commented that had it happened in a halo-halo stand in the market, City Hall would have immediately closed down the entire public market.


It is the perception by many residents (who communicate with me) that the city council appears to be the rubber stamp of the administration considering that the big projects emanate from the Mayor’s Office and not a single big-ticket project was sponsored by the honorables in the city council. Consider the tourism-oriented projects of the past years and you are likely to agree.
For example, had there even ever been any council action that led to the development of the so-called Post Office Park, the dancing fountains at Wright Park Drive, such other development projects at the Botanical Garden and Burnham Park or in the other city parks? Did the city council ever consider doing something with the old Post Office building?
In fact, the sad and deteriorated state of the building, which is one of the heritage edifices of the city, became more obvious and distinct with the development of its surroundings, as observed by a tourist from Sweden.


But one thing that the present city council is good at is conducting public hearings “in aid of legislation”. Something that was copied from the Senate? I guess the honorables will conduct frequent hearings “in aid of legislation” now that the elections are drawing near. Remember, they will file their certificates of candidacy in October, nine months from now.
Now, the councilors are picking on Rep. Mark Go because of the revised charter that the lawmaker filed and which lapsed into law last year.
Oddly, the main protagonists are the once partymates – Go and Councilor Jose Molintas. They are now priming up for the seat that they will run for. It is Go’s last term so it is likely that he will be vying for the mayorship. As to Molintas, we expect him to run for congressman like what he did in the past, or maybe wait for a decision from Mayor Benjamin Magalong who could either go for his third term as mayor or run for senator.
Should Magalong run for reelection, then Molintas might aim for Congress, unless Magalong will choose lawyer Edgar Avila instead of Molintas. We are hearing of a team with the acronym “AMO” for Avila-Magalong-Olowan. If this happens, Molintas will be left holding an empty bag. However, should Magalong run for senator, then Molinas will fill in the slot for Magalong and the acronym remains – Avila-Molintas-Olowan. Although many political pundits commented that such a team is weak because their boss Magalong will be out of the picture.


One sensational news we gathered was about the two complaints filed by Councilor Mylen Yaranon against Magalong before the Ombudsman regarding the purchase of a land in Topinao, Tuba, Benguet that is owned by William Tan, Jr. I heard that the gutsy councilor will include as respondents other fellow councilors depending on their actions in the city council, this week regarding this issue. This will be interesting to write about.