18 June 2007

Joker fetes Naga's 59th charter day

TAKING A break from his word war with Sen. Panfilo Lacson over the revival of the senate blue-ribbon investigation of Jose Pidal, reelected Bikolano senator Joker Arroyo flew to Naga today to lead the celebration of the city's 59th charter day at Plaza Quezon this morning.

In his message, he profusely thanked the people of Naga for giving him the highest vote during the recent election, saying he would have lost face in the Senate "as the gentleman from Naga and Camarines Sur" if Nagueños chose somebody else as their top senator.

But more importantly, Joker also saluted Naga for maintaining its oppositionist tradition, saying it is something they should be proud of. "It takes courage to say no, and go against the wishes of the leadership in Manila," he said. (How I wish my favorite senator were as consistent as his fellow citizens.)

Where people in the Visayas and Mindanao have long been clamoring federalism, Naga stands out for its federal mindset and practices, Joker added, operating independently of the central government. He therefore suggested that the city maintain its independence from Camarines Sur as provided for under its charter, Republic Act No. 305.

(Naga is an independent component city by virtue of its charter, one of the five in the country, the others being Cotabato, Dagupan, Ormoc and Santiago; its residents do not vote for provincial officials and in return are not subject to supervision by the provincial government.)

Earlier, local historian and journalist Jose Fernando Obias, in looking back at Naga's 59 years of cityhood, suggested updating its carta de privilegios many of whose provisions are no longer attuned to its needs. For instance, the original charter calls for only a four-person municipal board, which might be applicable to the demands of those times.

Obias also suggested reexamining its relationship with the province, as well as the possibility of Naga becoming a congressional district in its own right, entitled to a representative of its own.

Photo nicked from the Commission on Appointments website.