Monday, February 10, 2014

Late Ecija ex-mayor’s hubby snubs award rites for wife

CABIAO, Nueva Ecija – The husband of late former mayor Abundia Garcia snubbed last Friday the awarding rites in honor of his wife arranged by the latter’s political rival, Mayor Gloria Crespo-Congco.
          Incumbent municipal councilor Joe Garcia was a no-show in the “Gabi ng Parangal” awards night at the Sen. Freddie Webb gymnasium here, creating a stir among the organizers of the fourth “Paistima Ka sa Kabyawan Festival” led by the municipal government.
          Ex-mayor Garcia, more popularly known here as “Biding,” was selected as one of two posthumous awardees by the executive committee whose overall chairman was Congco’s ally, Vice Mayor Ernesto Talens Jr. The other posthumous awardee was the late former councilor Alberto Miranda who died of a cardiac arrest last December 25.
          The awarding rites were one of the highlights of the week-long festival, which kicked off last February 3, to celebrate the town’s 166th founding anniversary.
Municipal accountant Noel Gamboa, chairman of the festival’s executive committee, said the other highlights were the search for the Binibining Cabiao 2014, street dancing competitions, ground demonstrations, parade of floats, munting tinig ng Kabyawenyo, drum and lyre competitions, booth competitions, harana and serenata among others.
          Talens said Councilor Garcia did not send any representative to receive the award in behalf of his wife.
          “It is sad but we still expect to hand the award to Councilor Garcia during our session on Monday. It’s up to him to receive the award in behalf of his wife or not,” Talens said.
          Abundia, a close ally of Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali, was first elected mayor in 2007, beating a former three-term mayor. It was her first and only election victory after failing in four previous tries at the mayorship.
          She sought reelection in 2010 but lost to Crespo-Congco who returned after three terms. Abundia filed an election protest but died on January 27, 2011 while waiting for the outcome of her protest.
          During her wake, a controversy erupted after the funeral hearse bearing her remains allegedly was denied entry inside the municipal compound where it was to be displayed for public viewing, earning the ire of Abundia’s relatives, allies and supporters.
          One of Abundia’s children complained that when the funeral procession passed at the town hall, none of the councilors welcomed it. Worse, the gate of the compound was padlocked.
          Abundia, her relatives claimed, were also denied a fitting “luksang parangal (tribute)” befitting a former public official.
          One of them said the award was only a conseulo de bobo and was no longer necessary. “We were waiting for her to be given the appropriate award just when she died then but she was deprived. Why only now? They can have the award,” one of Abundia’s relatives angrily remarked.
          Crespo-Congco said Abundia was given the award which was but only fitting for someone who has contributed to the development of the town. “Politics was long behind us. Mayor Biding was a former mayor who I am sure contributed to the growth of Cabiao so we feel she deserved the award,” she said.
          Talens said that politics had nothing to do with the award and the awarding ceremonies themselves were apolitical. He denied the claims of Garcia’s relatives that the funeral procession was not allowed to enter the municipal compound.
          “That was farthest from the truth. In fact, I, and our municipal councilors waited for Mayor Garcia’s body to be brought to the town hall. We were waiting for her there but they did not come,” he said.
He recalled that Crespo-Congco even ordered the town councilors to all dress up in white and line up themselves up at the compound but the funeral hearse never came.
Councilor Dante Umali agreed, saying he was one of those who waited for the ex-mayor’s remains but ended up waiting for nothing. – Manny Galvez

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