Mrs Josepina Francisco (second from left), with close friend Mrs Elvira P Hernandez, of Parang, Mambulao, and grandchildren during Mrs Hernandez’ visit recently. – MWBuzzpic by AP HERNANDEZ
By ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ
JUST recently, Josefina Francisco, 80, retired from her job as president of the Larap Senior Citizens Association (LSCA) owing to her poor health and after guiding this group for four years from 2010.
The association’s leadership has been taken over by Linda Prima, 70.
A frustrated member of the community, Mrs Francisco left her job without seeing under her watch the fulfillment of one dream – the completion of the social center for the baranggay’s Senior Citizens of more than 400.
And her frustration has been echoed across the community by the rest of the Seniors.
Through tireless fundraising activities in 2010, Mrs Francisco and her group managed to erect the shell of the project – four walls and roofing beams.
Then, donated funds just came in drips and the project ground to a halt.
When Mambulao Mayor Ricarte “Dong” Padilla told Mrs Francisco sometime middle of this year that the social hall would finally be constructed to completion starting last October, the Seniors immediately saw a structure that would house their “second home” by at least this month of December.
A “Christmas home” they had imagined. But this was not to be so.
The funding of at least P250,000 to complete the building, courtesy of Vice-President Jejomar Binay, was diverted to another project at a baranggay just outside the town proper.
Why the money, which was extracted from Binay’s barrel of pork, was used in another project instead of the Larap Seniors’ social hall, deserves an explanation.
Has it something to do with politics? We really don’t know although Padilla promised not to play it within the halls of the LGU’s Sangguniang Bayan (SB).
But outside of SB, he has the prerogatives to play the game.
We don’t know if the election of Fe Yanesa as Larap baranggay chairman, thus ousting then chairman Nimfa Dilao, wife of the former vice-mayor Icasiano Dilao, has something to do with Padilla’s sudden change of heart.
Ms Yanesa and Mrs Francisco are said to be very good friends.
The Larap Seniors have been expecting for the completion of the project as early as May 2012 after Binay made an allotment of P500,000 (the other P250,000 was to go to the social hall project in the far-flung barangay of Luklukan).
But with the dropping of Larap Seniors social hall, it also means that the Seniors’ social hall project in Luklukan would follow suit, since the money for this also went down the “I promise you” sinkhole.
Sometime ago, however, to appease Mrs Francisco, Padilla once again promised he would start the project next month (January).
Now, this really becomes suspect.
The Mambulao LGU is beginning to feel the crunch after pork barrel money of lawmakers has been scrapped, thus turning off the tap for funding on thousands of community projects across the country.
Many of the major infrastructure projects in Mambulao had been funded by pork, courtesy of some friendly lawmakers both from the Senate and House of Representatives.
Pork money went to projects such as baranggay roads, feeder roads, bridges, social projects, basketball courts and baranggay/community halls, among others.
With the flow of pork being stopped for good, Mambulao suddenly finds itself with no other source of alternative money to pursue its projects.
The Larap Seniors’ social hall project is not an urgent one, as far as the LGU is concerned, since it’s not a Padilla project.
On the other hand, it is one initiated and pushed by Mrs Francisco and her members to cater to the welfare of the members.
Therefore, any LGU funding would only come if it so decided to help it.
But it opted not to do so by depriving the Seniors’ pet project of funding that has already been earmarked for its completion.
The allotment from Binay, who is looking after the welfare of the country’s Senior Citizens, had been made ready for this project and was only waiting to be disbursed, until Padilla scrapped the construction and took the money elsewhere.
For the Larap Seniors, having their own social center is like having a second home.
They have been dreaming to hold their activities in their own refuge, spend their time here when they are not at home and be in their own world away from the peering eyes of people much younger than them.
In short, it is a long-dreamed home, especially for Mrs Francisco.
But this has been frustrated by no less than Padilla.
After cruising through his first term as mayor of Mambulao, and is about to complete the first six months in his second term end of this year, he is gradually acquiring the nasty habit of a generic, bad politician – that is making false promises.
And more promises he will make to his constituents just to keep face without the prospect of fulfilling them, now that the LGU is expected to go crunching on funds with the junking of pork barrel.
But January 2014 should allow Padilla to disprove this.
The question, however, is: would he spend the LGU’s limited funds on a non-LGU project such as the social center for Larap’s Seniors?
MWBuzz is inclined to doubt it.