CONG. LUCY Torres-Gomez, in a radio interview this week with Power FM, answered point-by-point criticisms hurled at her and husband Richard Gomez by Mayor Eric Codilla in a press conference recently, telling the mayor that “Ormoc has bigger problems than my tarpaulins”.
She also added she is amazed at the mayor’s capacity to “lie with a straight face”, telling the press that husband Richard has ran and lost thrice in Bulacan, and dragging the name of Congressman Junjun Mendoza just to make the story believable.
“Let’s have accountability and a conscience because that is what differentiates us from animals”, she said. “Let’s be adults about this and do not resort to lies just to promote your agenda.”
The mayor and his supporters have been hitting Lucy for putting up tarpaulins near nationally-funded projects and those from her PDAF, calling her “E-pal” and making it a “family affair” with Richard’s picture in it. Richard Gomez has declared his intention to run as Mayor of Ormoc.
Codilla also made fun of Richard, saying Gomez has a record of losing elections, saying no less than Cong. Junjun Mendoza of Bulacan told him this in a chance meeting at the DILG when Secretary Jessie Robredo was still alive.
Cong. Mendoza, however, has denied telling the yarn to Codilla, saying he just met him once and never told him such a story because Richard has never ran in Bulacan, anyway. “I didn’t know scriptwriter man diay ning mga Codilla”, Lucy said.
Lucy also chastised Codilla for picking a fight with her. “Ikaw mayor, lalaki ka. Ayaw pangaway og babaye”, she commented, and reminded him of the 8th commandment. “Ayaw mo pagbutang-butang og isig katawo. That’s old style politics”, she said.
Bigger problems than her tarps
Lucy did not mince words in telling the mayor that Ormoc City has bigger problems than her and Richard’s face on tarps. “We have peace and order problems, drugs, and many people without jobs”, she said in the vernacular. “As public servants, let us focus on bigger problems”, she said.
Just as she told Korina Sanchez in her morning show at ANC recently, Lucy said that the tarps are donated by her supporters and by contractors who want people to know that these were brought to the district through her efforts.
As far as she is concerned, Lucy said, her conscience is clear. The tarpaulins, she added, promotes transparency because people know where their taxes are going. And, more importantly, she pointed, no government funds are used for these tarps.
Lucy also explained that while it is true that the DPWH has its own budget for projects, she said the 4th LED’s share is minuscule compared to the needs of the 4th district. To meet the need, she allocates a portion of her PDAF for some infra projects.
“Tinood na. Naay regular budget ang DPWH. Pero naa sab diha makita kun kugihan ba inyo congressman, kay sa kadaghan sa angay buhaton, dili paigo ang pondo nila that is why I have to work hard and look for funds from other sources”, the congresswoman said.
She then goes around “begging” from senators, department secretaries and even the President, so that she can bring more projects to the district. True enough, she said, she has already brought a billion worth of projects to the district.
She also approaches private companies to include her district in their CSR programs. From Hyundai, she got two Read to Lead vans. From IBM, four units of kiddie computers which makes learning fun and the kids computer literate at an early age. From Coke, she was able to lobby that her district, the only one in the Visayas granted, is included in its Nutri-Juice program. In fact, the district’s performance is outstanding that Coke has doubled the allocation here for school year 2012-13.
Ben Chan of Bench, Kris Aquino, the Yaokasins of Tacloban, and other private foundations have also donated school buildings in the district, she pointed out.
The Ormoc City
The congresswoman also answered allegations that she has been opposing the construction of a hospital for the City.
She said that the mayor cannot even tell the people straight that his hospital is a CEMONC (Comprehensive Emergency Maternal Obstetric and Neonatal Care), or a maternity and children’s hospital where cases that cannot be attended to by the birthing clinics at the district health centers will be brought to.
In various “praise releases” during its groundbreaking, including the city-funded “Ang Ormocanon”, no reference was ever made that the hospital is a “mother and child care facility” as health regional director Dr. Jaime Bernadas himself termed it. Records at the DOH also show that what the city applied for a “certificate of need” is for a CEMONC.
The congresswoman also answered criticisms hurled at their family that they were just as power-hungry as the Codillas. Her brother Matt is intending to run for mayor of Kananga.
“You all know that our family did not have any plans (to join politics) but there was a clamor. It is not like we planned this all our life”, she said. In Kananga, there is also a similar clamor. Based on the surveys, she said, “people are asking for change”.
She alluded that if the Codillas were so secure about their political clout, then there was no need to fear them. “Let the people decide come elections”, she said.
Lucy also assured listeners that their brand of politics would be entirely different than that of the Codillas.
Recalling the early days of her incumbency, Lucy said that if only all the mayors in her district were “cooperative in the same way as that of Palompon, Isabel, and Albuera, wa gyoy problema. I can work with anybody. I was willing to work with them (Codillas) but they wasted too much time and energy going against me”, she said.
On their “mansion”, SALN
She also twitted allusions that she became wealthy in politics and that is why “karon pa mi magpatukod og “mansion”“, obviously referring to their house being constructed at Carlota Hills.
“Gatubo ko sa Ormoc. Wa man mi gipadako para manhambog. You know my parents. Wa pa ko matawo ang ako mga parents naa nay kahimtang, “ adding that if there are people who doesn’t know, there is a reason why Carlota Hills is named as such. “Carlota is my lola. She is the mother of my lolo Tingting (her father’s father)”. One of Ormoc’s first subdivisions, the whole of Carlota Hills was once owned by the Torres family.
Lucy also dared Mayor Codilla, that in the light of these allegations, that they bare their SALN’s to the public. “Sige, Mayor, pakita-ay ta sa ato SALN”, she said.
“Let them look at themselves. Tutal, the people know”, she added. “Ask the old people, they know.” Lucy also challenged the mayor to open the books of the city, and what he spends on with the city’s multi-million intelligence funds.
Richard is an accomplished man
The congresswoman also defended husband Richard from the brickbats being thrown at him, saying it is sad that his detractors have to resort to character assassination just to sully him.
Lucy said Richard’s life is an open book. He became the top actor of his generation, reaping various awards. On the side, he continued his passion for sports, representing the country in fencing and clay shooting. He has also invested whatever earnings he made during his prime.
“Di ko maikog mangumpanya para sa ako bana kay kasabot ko sa iyang kapasidad”, Lucy said of Richard. “He is a self-made man and has excelled in all he has done”, she said.
If it is in Richard’s destiny to become mayor of Ormoc, she said, she assures Ormocanons they will get a “kugihan ug matinud-anon na mayor”. Lucy said Richard is a man who does not do anything half-baked. If it is his destiny to become mayor, she said, then he will be a full-time mayor.
In parting, she said the filing of candidacies is in October already. “I pray that we be enlightened. It is an election and let the people and God decide”.