This pertains to the article titled “Cagayan town mayor asks Aquino to remove CEZA chief”, which your daily published recently. In the interest of fair play, please allow me to clarify several statements mentioned therein:
1. It is a misconception that the local government unit of Santa Ana in Cagayan retains supervision of both the LGU under the Office of the Mayor and the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) mandated to manage, supervise and develop the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZFP), which is based in Santa Ana. These are two different and independent government entities that co-exist in one town. While the LGU is led by the town Mayor, the GOCC is headed by the Administrator/Chief Executive Officer. Ideally, the LGU should be an active partner of CEZA, which unfortunately is not the reality in this case.
2. It is true that I, a former Board Member of the First District of the Province of Cagayan and a mayoral candidate during the recently concluded election, am also the son of CEZA Administrator and CEO Jose Mari B. Ponce. However, I wish to note that those two roles are independent of each other. I was not pushed by my father to run for the mayoralty position to widen his control over the CSEZFP nor did I enjoy privileges during the election campaign from CEZA as the son of the CEZA Administrator/CEO. This insinuation has put the person of my father (as CEZA head) in a bad light.
3. The Acting Mayor may be right that this conflict is “now a matter of serious concern to our national interest” (par. 2). I agree that issues such as these is creating internal disorder among the local community and CEZA’s potential investors and partners as earlier claimed by CEZA.
Ironically, the man who is depicting a negative image of the municipality to the public and causing internal disorder in the area is the head of municipality itself. This is a clear desperate move and a mark of an irresponsible leadership, unmindful of the possible toll his statements cause to the municipality and its people.
4. The statement that my father’s tenure as CEZA A/CEO as a “slack” leadership (par. 1) is without basis. I am confident that it is not only CEZA Senior Administrator Nilo A. Aldeguer (quoted in the article) who can attest to the significant contributions posted during A/CEO Ponce’s stint at CEZA. As it may seem biased for me talk about my father’s accomplishments, I leave it to the public to see for themselves the physical developments at the CSEZFP, including citations/recognitions from local and international parties, which are enough proof of what have been accomplished so far during my father’s almost eight years’ stint at CEZA.
5. To reiterate, I have not, in any way, used the influence of my father or the resources of CSEZFP locators to finance my political campaign or advance my political career. During the past election campaign period, I worked with my own set of political allies and constituents, which came from independent and private individuals who believed in my vision for Santa Ana. Allow me to say that we should not question the integrity of CEZA officials and employees by assuming that they will allow themselves and their office to be used for personal interests in local politics. The same is true for CSEZFP locators who will not put their business interests to risk by supporting my candidacy. To prove my point, donors for my election expenses are reflected in my Statement of Election Contributions and Expenditures (SECE), a public record, which can be easily obtained from the local COMELEC.
6. It is a true that the recently-concluded election at the municipality has left tarnished relations between both parties and, to date, cases have been brought to the proper venue for resolution (par. 16-19). All evidences are already in the court. The CCTV cameras do not lie. Let us let justice take its course. To close, I now appeal to the Acting Mayor to stop issuing libelous statements to discredit me and those close to me, such as my father and the institution that he heads, and leave everything to the court.
It saddens me that my sincere desire for public service has brought predicament to the two aspects close to me, namely my family and the town that my heart wishes to serve. I therefore challenge the Mayor that if he is sincere in his intention to serve, it is time to devote his efforts for the greater good of the municipality and not in maligning my person and that of my loved ones.
Thank you for this opportunity to air my side on the issue.
Jean Alphonse D. Ponce