Sun Star - First Person

1 November 2011

By Ram Mercado | Sunstar Pampanga

Pag may tiyaga, may nilaga” is a wise saying that Mayor Boking Morales has been putting to practice to realize his dream of cityhood status for Mabalacat town.

Morales had been working hard – fighting for it, in fact – to convert his municipality into a city.
He has hurdled one difficult obstacle after another from the municipal level, to the provincial board, in the House of Representatives, and ultimately at the Senate.

His persistence is paying off and Morales is now about to reap the reward of his epic efforts to attain the mythical golden fleece.

The masterful politician that he is, Mayor Boking has won the support of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, chairman of the Committee on local Governments.

The mayor’s able spokesman Diosdado Pangilinan reported a hot but lively verbal scrimmage between the Mayor and certain Tarlac officials during a committee hearing presided by Sen. Marcos. Present was Rep. Tarzan Lazatin, principal author of the city conversion bill.

Marcos was briefed by pertinent government officials on the background and status of the disputed area between Tarlac and Pampanga. In the meantime that the Court is still deliberating on the contentious issue of land jurisdiction, Marcos expressed what was described as a Solomonic ruling: He asked the oppositors from Tarlac to allow the cityhood bid to move on, and ordered a ground survey to decide the metes and bounds of the adjoining boundaries to protect both parties, respectively.

Senator Marcos was elated when Sen. Manuel Lapid endorsed the decision of the lawmaker from Ilocos. Lapid has studied his history, according to Deng Pangilinan who was impressed when the former action star delved on the historical background of the Kapampangan region of which Tarlac was carved from.

Marcos’s support to the cityhood bid, however, was based on the legal requirement of population, land area, and income. Mabalacat has passed these criteria with verifiable data and full documentation.

This was the latest development on the Mayor’s efforts and struggles to make his municipality the third city in Pampanga. Pangilinan was optimistic that with the unanimous desire of the town residents to an upgrade of their socio-economic status, a mandatory referendum (by December?) of people’s approval or rejection, as the case may be, will yield positive results. Deng’s nilaga is not a remote cook-out at Barangay Calumpang, the flash point of the stalled proceedings.