BAGUIO CITY – A group of Baguio-based retirees and other residents are up in arms against the black propaganda being put on the online social networking service Facebook, specifically on the community page No to Bernie “Matanda Na” Vergara, saying it is discriminatory.
“This page is discriminatory to us senior citizens who have served the city all our lives. We vehemently disagree with what this page tries to impress in the minds of Baguio City netizens. Be it known that we the elderly, who have raised our children to be respectful members of our society, can be as productive and wiser than you think despite our age,” stressed Prof. Federico A. Balanag, chairman emeritus and president of the Blessed Association of Retired Persons (BARP) Foundation.
“This just goes to show what kind of people Vergara’s political opponents are and also what kind of supporters they have this election. Because they cannot show any corruption, dishonesty, inefficiency or incompetence on Vergara’s part after the many years of public service he has given us as both congressman and mayor, they are now resorting to attacking him on his age,” Balanag added.
On the same Facebook page, Moises Cabanatan was quoted as saying, “Ageism is stereotyping and discriminating against individuals or groups on the basis of their age. This page is motivated by age discrimination. Ang epektibong serbisyong pampubliko ay wala sa edad kundi sa kalidad. Vergara pa rin para sa mas magandang Baguio City. Iba na ang subok na!”
Ageism is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as the unfair treatment of old people or the prejudice or discrimination against a particular age-group, especially the elderly.
Another Baguio resident and Facebook user Chistine Evahline Torres Shawne also said, ”What kind of page is this? Kung may gusto kayong ikampanya, huwag sana kayong mambastos ng ibang tao…”
When interviewed about this, Vergara pointed out that, “I stand by my record of performance, which we have achieved together, faithfully and honourably well. It is a humble record based on actual, well-documented accomplishments that we have helped Baguio recover from past disasters and served to generate rapid economic growth and development. We have a shared destiny to secure a better future for the next generation.”
He said that he was effective as both congressman and mayor in the past because he and his team were able to establish a system of check and balance for honest and transparent governance. “Governance is not just about government. It involves people. It requires a constant interaction between those governing and those being governed,” Vergara explained.
“Importante sa akin ang transparent and honest governance upang mapanitili ang tiwala ng taong bayan sa aking ginagawa bilang congressman. Regular kong ginagamit ang ating media, both the traditional and the social network, para ipaalam sa lahat ang aking gawain. Better informed, our citizenry can contribute their own inputs para mapalakas pa ang pagpapatupad ng mga proyekto. Ang media ang check and balance natin. As a matter of attitude, i also encourage every inquiry into what we are doing. Alam ng lahat kung gaano ka-bukas ang aking opisina, sa kongreso at sa city hall, sa mga bagay-bagay na kaugnay ng trabaho,” he added.
As a legislator, Vergara stressed that he fully supports the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill to empower our constituents with rights and responsibilities respectful of each other.
“I believe that our people’s mandate should be earned on the strength of the tried-and-tested competence demonstrably shown, and the well-defined character I have built as a person and family man, through the years,” he continued.
As a public servant, Vergara also said that he should always remember a quote from a well-viewed motion picture which we are very familiar with, “With power comes responsibility. The greater the power, the greater the responsibility.”
“In the past two and a half years, our people have begun to feel that their essential needs and services are not being addressed with proven competence, characteristic humility, and tested sincerity. Previous to that, basic concerns were being resolutely acted upon based on an agenda of governance conceived in regular consultation with the people. As a result, there was a sense of public confidence in government, a growing faith that public expectations are being met. Once more, let us make this hope and pride in our city and our people rise again. Our constituents, especially the youth, should start to dream again for a future that they can work for and worthily share. The coming election gives us the time to renew ourselves towards our shared goals for a better Baguio. I bear confidence that like in the past, we can again work hand-in-hand in putting public priorities in order. From our shared trust, we can again make things work for our people, inspired that Baguio will always be a worthy Summer Capital of the Philippines, a premier tourist destination, and key educational center in Northern Philippines,” he said.
“The elections should also serve to remind ourselves that we as a people are capable of sharing and winning over present-day challenges, that we know how much more we can achieve when we remain bound by steadfast ties of unity, teamwork and cooperation. Together, by working hard, we can continue to achieve and to excel. For the next three years, if given the people’s trust again, we will endeavour to continue the tradition of good performance for Baguio to continue as a happy place for shared progress, peace and prosperity for our people,” Vergara added.
The BARP, formerly called the Baguio-Benguet Association of Retired Persons Foundation, is a social development-oriented non-government organization founded on July 24, 1999 by concerned retirees headed by Balanag. It’s major thrust is to develop opportunities among the members to keep them active and productive while aging.
The members and officers come from various fields of endeavor such as businessmen, farmers, miners, laborers, social workers, nurses, teachers, educators, doctors, engineers, lawyers, bankers, management specialists, librarians, administrators and military/PNP men and women, to name a few. As such, the association has a pool of experienced and skilled human resources ready to be tapped for productive undertakings. It’s motto is “To serve, as we had served.”