Friday, January 9, 2015
SAN ANTONIO, Nueva Ecija – A brand-new municipal hall was unveiled here Thursday, over a year after a fire burned down the old town hall, allegedly by the camp of the losing mayoral candidate.
Gov. Aurelio Umali led the inauguration of the new municipal building along with his wife, gubernatorial aspirant Rep. Czarina and close allies led by her running mate, Vice Gov. Jose Gay Padiernos, Mayor Antonino Lustre, Vice Mayor Jose Balagtas and former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office director Joe Taruc V.
The two-story new town hall was funded by the provincial government at a cost of P17 million sourced from the governor’s intelligence funds.
The town hall replaced the former municipal building which was razed to the ground in a fire that broke out before dawn on June 7,2013, destroying equipment and election materials. It broke out two days after ballot boxes stored there after the 2013 polls were ordered transferred to the Regional Trial Court in Gapan City after former mayor Arvin Salonga filed an election protest against Lustre.
The Bureau of Fire Protection has filed charges of arson against Salonga in connection with the incident in this town, the hometown of famed broadcaster Anthony “Ka Tunying” Taberna.
In his speech, Umali said the project is his administration’s gift to the people of San Antonio, not just to its political leaders and will serve them irrespective of their political color and leaning.
He recalled that when the old town hall was burned down, townsfolk expressed outrage over the incident. “You could feel the anger and the wrath,” he said.
“It’s time for the people to move on and open their hearts to forgiveness, to forgive themselves,” said.
“It’s time for San Antonio to become known as a zone of peace, adding the people should not allow its dark past to overwhelm them and divide them, referring to the town’s history of political turbulence. He talked of how Balagtas experienced being harassed under the previous administration.
Congresswoman Umali, for her part, said the new town hall speaks of a new house, new government, renewed enthusiasm and new services to the people. – (Manny Galvez)