Building a Dynasty

By: Isabela Aguilar

    In the 15th Congress of the Philippines, Taguig Second District Rep. Sigfrido “Freddie” Tinga, proposed four bills, one of which is the creation of ten branches for the Taguig City Regional Trial Court. However, this move is not entirely new as previous Rep. Henry Duenas Jr. proposed a similar bill aiming to create seven branches for the regional trial court. As of today, there is only one metropolitan trial court and no regional trial court in Taguig city.                          

When asked of what he knew about Tinga, Jaime Ureta, a resident of Signal Village, said that the former mayor did a lot for Taguig. But with regard to Tinga being the congressman of the district, he knew nothing.                                                

     “The roads were paved and there were street lights on every corner. There were street sweepers and garbage cans too,” said Ureta.

    Tinga was famous among the people for the changes he made from the little details up to what was deemed as the biggest move Taguig made, which was to move forward to its cityhood.

    Taguig became a city on December 8, 2004 after a recount of the plebiscite made in April. Contrary to the result of the first count, the recount showed that residents were in favor of Taguig’s cityhood with a difference of 1,645 between the yes and no votes.

    “No one really wanted Taguig to be a city. It is not that big to be called a city. The population is not as great as in Quezon City and other cities in Metro Manila. It only covers a small area,” explained Ureta.

    Taguig has been a city for almost six years now, transforming itself from a provincial area covered with rice fields to a city that houses not only residents in Signal Village but also Fort Bonifacio, which is a major source of income and revenue.

    “They also put up CCTV (Closed-circuit television) cameras on the highways and they also issued the Citycard,” Ureta’s wife, Edna, said.                                                                                    

    In 2008, the Taguig City government launched what gave Taguig a Galing Pook Award: the Taguig Citycard. Each resident can apply for a card which can be used for various transactions and provide services and discounts. It can be used to withdraw salaries, avail discounts on medicine and hospital services in Taguig. It can also provide the cardholder free burial assistance. Along with this also came the ‘Libreng Libing’ which was said to be a project of Duenas and was carried on by Tinga as mayor.                           

    “It took a long time before I got my Citycard. Although it has its benefits like getting discounts when you buy medicine or when availing of hospital services, the only problem is that the kind of service, equipment or medicine you need is not available,” Mrs. Ureta expressed.                                                               

    There was not much said about the platform or promises made by Tinga when he ran for congressman. There were no concrete plans and people were not called to assembly during the campaign period. But as to his performance as mayor, they said he was good enough. “I don’t have anything to say about it,” said Ureta.                                                 

    Like Ureta, Jovito Olazo, also a resident of Signal Village stated that there is nothing he can say regarding Tinga as a congressman. He only hopes the younger Tinga does not become like the older Tinga.                                                                          

    Dante Tinga, father of Freddie Tinga, was representative of Taguig from 1987 to 1998 and later on became Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. He ran for the mayoralty in this year’s election and lost the position to Lani Cayetano.                

    In 2001, Olazo received a letter from the Office of the Mayor saying that he has 15 days to vacate his area since the land on which he built his house and leased are not his but of a Jeffrey Rodriguez. He replied with proof from the Land Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources that he is the beneficiary of the land. The case was later brought to court where it was resolved. Through evidence and records, the respondent, Dante Tinga, was found to have used his position as then congressman to illegally acquire a parcel of land.                                                                                              

    “He destroyed the law,” Olazo said. He was grateful for the help extended by then Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano. “It’s really a miracle,” he said explaining how glad he was that Lani Cayetano won the recent election, if not he would still have been fighting the case in court.  “Freddie Tinga is a good mayor. Hope he won’t be influenced by his father,” he added.                       

    If Freddie Tinga’s recycled proposal was passed and acted upon during Duenas’ time, would it have helped the residents of Taguig regarding their legal needs?                                

    “Why add more when there are other nearer courts like in Bicutan,” said Olazo.             

    “I don’t think adding trial courts in Taguig is an immediate need for us. What we need is peace and order. We need security and the police force especially because the city is full of snatchers, robbers and thieves,” said Ureta.                                                                           

    Tinga also proposed the granting of scholarships to tertiary level students. This was seen as a follow through of his education program when he was mayor. He provided scholarships to students of Taguig University and gave free bags, school supplies and uniform textile for the elementary and high school student
s. Through the Government Assistance to Student and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE), 100- 150 students in Taguig were transferred from public to private schools.

    Taguig clearly has become one of the major cities in Metro Manila. However, as its warring political dynasties divide the people on their beliefs, Taguig has a lot more to work on. The necessity of the establishment of a branch of the regional trial court in Taguig is still a matter of debate. Other issues and concerns are more prominent in the minds of several citizens, however it is clear that the current trend of increasing litigation in neighboring courts can become a problem in the future if more efficient solutions are not enforced.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Links to Sources:                                                                                                             “14 LGUs to get ‘Galing Pook’ Award”  “Taguig launches unfied ID system”.   
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