It’s been a couple of weeks since my last column. Whenever work beckons, I would often unfollow news so I won’t get distracted.
Thus it was a bit surprising to see the news that Negros Occidental Gov. Bong Lacson is keen on transferring the seat of the province to Talisay City which was initially announced by former Rep. Albee Benitez who is the province’s consultant on economic affairs.
Of course, I saw Albee’s announcement first and I naturally thought nothing of it because he is from the third district and might just be too keen on seeing his district capitalize on the possible new growth area outside of Bacolod.
But I thought, the governor might have other ideas and will put historical and sentimental reasons on top of why we should retain the Capitol as the seat of government. After all, Bong was born here and grew up seeing the Capitol as the iconic structure that has earned accolades for its grandeur and class.
Albee on the other hand may not have that much sentiment for the Capitolyo, as many of us call it, because he was born and raised outside of Negros Occidental. We can, of course, attribute much of the development in the third district to him, thus, it is not surprising that this transfer may be his brainchild.
Gov. Bong said most local chief executives welcomed the idea but I hope they will not be the only deciding body for this proposal because I have yet to hear someone who likes this idea. But then, these are mostly people from Bacolod who may not be part of the voting population of the province, but have embraced the Capitolyo as part of our heritage.
Albee said that it is hard for the seat of the province to be located in a jurisdiction it does not control, alluding to the fact that Bacolod is a highly urbanized locality that is not under the province.
Hmmm. We all know that there is an obvious rift between the province and the capital city especially at the height of the pandemic when both LGU were not in synch with each other. But this is not the only time of course.
Past governors have also been noticeably at odds with whoever is at the helm in Bacolod, but is that solely the reason to ponder abandoning the Capitolyo?
Gov. Bong said it will still be put to use for special events. Indeed the Capitolyo as a backdrop has been used many times for the inauguration of officials, concerts, and other grand events in the past. And not only because of its grandeur but precisely because it’s the seat of the Governor.
The business community welcomed the move with MBBCI chief executive officer Frank Carbon saying it is perfect timing because Talisay is part of the Metro Bacolod Infrastructure Master Plan along with the cities of Silay, Bago, and the town of Murcia.
I seriously doubt these other LGUs would like to be called as part of Metro Bacolod when in fact, the reason they want to transfer the Capitolyo to Talisay is because they do not have control of Bacolod.
There have been attempts in the past to spread the growth in Talisay and in fact the entry of the posh Ayala Land and the Ayala Mall there was part of that design.
But while the Ayala community thrives, the mall, unfortunately, lost its glamour and many shops have closed down even before the pandemic.
I grew up running through the hallways in the Capitolyo during the time of Gov. Alfredo Montelibano Jr. and where my dad used to work as executive assistant to the governor. Right after school, we would play and roll down in the Lagoon which had steep mounds then before it was landscaped to what it is now.
In business management, change is not always easy to deal with especially if people are very much accustomed to their routines and they are in their comfort zones. But at the same time, unchanging is not also a good thing and can lead to “a stale, unbending work environment.”
But of course, it talks about management styles and not the physical change which, unless there is a better justification other than they are not in control of the LGU they are presently situated, I don’t see a point of changing what is already working.
I was listening to a radio commentator yesterday who also raised the point that this may not be the right timing especially since we are in a pandemic and there are many who have yet to recover, yet here you have the provincial government thinking of spending for the construction of a building that will definitely cost hundreds of millions.
In 2027, or six years from now, the Capitolyo will be celebrating its 100th year. It’s sad if the relocation will happen.*