MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Quezon City first district representative Vincent “Bingbong” Crisologo has one clear pitch for the voters of the largest city in the country: vote for me and end the Belmonte dynasty.
Crisologo, 72, is running for city mayor against Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte, daughter of former Quezon City mayor Sonny Belmonte, anchoring his campaign on the criticism that the city has lagged behind Taguig and Makati under the Belmonte leadership all these years. (READ: Ex-LP member Joy Belmonte woos coveted Duterte vote)
Because Joy and her father had no challengers, they supposedly became complacent, especially in terms of providing education or health services, the challenger said.
“I felt that it was my obligation na umikot sa lahat ng distrito at doon ko nakita na napag-iiwanan tayo,” Crisologo said on Friday, March 29, when he launched his campaign with a Mass and unity walk in San Francisco del Monte. (I felt it was my obligation to go around all districts, and it was there I saw that we were left behind.)
Crisologo, however, is not a fresh face in Quezon City, himself having had the chance to help deliver the services he now finds lacking. He served as city councilor from 1998 to 2004. From 2004 to 2013, he represented the first district in the House of Representatives. After that, he took a break due to term-limits imposed by the Constitution, and then won a new term as congressman in 2016.
Crisologo has won the first battle in the local campaign – getting the official endorsement of the ruling party PDP-Laban. This is despite the fact that Joy is a PDP-Laban member herself, having jumped ship from the Liberal Party.
He is president of the PDP-Laban Quezon City council, while Joy continues to claim she has the support of President Rodrigo Duterte and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
Crisologo spent most of his speech at the proclamation rally criticizing Joy. His favorite attack against Joy is the latter’s delayed suspension of classes during heavy rains in July 2017 that left children stranded on their way to their schools.
“Kapag palagpasin mo ang pagkakataon na ‘yan, hindi na babalik ‘yan. Sa Mayo 13 po, pagkakataon natin na baguhin ang ating lungsod,” said Crisologo. (If we let this opportunity to pass, you won’t get it again. On May 13, we have the chance to bring about change to our city.)
Indicted over pork barrel scam
What Crisologo did not address in his campaign kickoff speech was his indictment for graft and malversation of funds over an P8-million pork barrel scam case.
The Office of the Ombudsman issued a resolution in October 2017 finding probable cause that Crisologo used a notorious Caloocan-based non-governmental organization (NGO) for ghost projects using his pork barrel as Quezon City congressman.
In the 3 cases, all used the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as implementing agency for various projects, including medical and hospitalization assistance.
But while Crisologo did not mention his indictment for graft, he boasted about the time he was imprisoned for arson.
In the 1970s, Crisologo was convicted for burning two barangays in Ilocos Sur that had reportedly favored his cousin, Luis “Chavit” Singson over his mother during the 1969 gubernatorial election. He was pardoned by former President Ferdinand Marcos in December 1980.
“I was imprisoned for 8 years so…alam ko ang damdamin ng mahirap, alam ko ang damdamin ng walang pag-asa, alam ko ang damdamin ng walang kinabukasan, alam ko ang damdamin ng walang kaibigan,” he told reporters.
(I was imprisoned for 8 years…I know how it is to be poor, hopeless, not have a future to look forward to, not to have friends.)
Crisologo said his imprisonment was “a political case,” but still, “assuming it was not a political case, mas maganda na rin ang masamang nagbago kesa ‘yung nagbabait-baitan na hindi niya naman alam ang ginagawa niya.” (It’s better to be a bad person who has changed than be a do-gooder who doesn’t know what she’s doing.)
In his mayoral bid, Crisologo is now promising to allot P1 billion for the city’s health care program to make medicines and tests free for Quezon City residents.
Crisologo also said he plans to establish a “Dialysis Center of Quezon City, and all the green card holders of Quezon City will have free treatment for dialysis.”
He is also plans to put up around P500 million to P1 billion as a credit facility with no collateral and interest to help the poor start their business.
This would have to be supervised by an agency to ensure that the money lent – from P10,000 to P100,000 – will be paid back.
“We will have some experts to study it. It will be run like a bank. There will be a feasibility study, there will be credit investigation,” Crisologo told Rappler. – with Lian Buan/Rappler.com