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Opinion

Some dreams for Cebu City

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide - The Freeman

A friend of mine, Engr Joel Biton, brought me to the Marco Polo hotel one afternoon last week for a cup of my favorite capuccino. It has been a long time that I have not visited the place. My lady, Carmen, our children and I used to dine there. There were times we checked in the hotel to enjoy its luxurious ambience. Yes, I also had some business discussions with clients while savoring steak.

A strange feeling engulfed me when we entered the hotel. The doorman and a security personnel, both of whom more surprised than smiling, were present to welcome us. Gone was the pre-pandemic buzz of people constantly in motion. Absent were the bustling crowd, observable in their varied uniqueness, as they used to occupy almost every square meter of its impressive hall. After observing health protocols, we went straight to the coffee shop at the lobby. It looked cavernous. Only its expensive draperies overwhelmed what would have been an eerie atmosphere for aside from two service crew, no one was there.

As I said above, we merely wanted to sip coffee and find time to relive friendship. We had no agenda to talk about. But, the sight of a once very popular Marco Polo Hotel in its seemingly forlorn condition opened our eyes to the state of the country’s economy. Here is one place, the hotel, once the epicenter of dynamic economic activities looking almost totally deserted. The sad environment channeled our thoughts. Without realizing it, we suddenly became philosophical.

We are facing an election! That was our starting point of an unplanned agenda. Almost in unison, we agreed to ask those seeking our votes in the May 2022 polls to include in their platforms ways to address economic issues. One specific item I mentioned to Engr Biton came from a Constitutional Law principle I would always teach my law students when I was still part of the academe. Buried deep in our jurisprudence is a helpful economic lesson. An old case, set on the fact that the second world war devastated our economy, upheld a moratorium on the payment of bank loans. Lawmakers who win in the 2022 elections may reprise it. To convince Engr Biton that such idea was and continues to be viable, I told him that I would introduce a similar bill if I have that privilege.

We had a view of the Apas- Banilad area. In the course of our random discussion, I told Engr Biton that the area we were looking at should be the starting point of the East-West link. The green foliage will, of course, be affected. But authorities can find ways to balance progress and environment. This is the highway I wrote about few weeks ago to link Asturias and Cebu City. Not only will it provide another linkage between the two coasts and expedite growth particularly to a sleeping agricultural giant that Asturias is, it will open up large idle mountain areas for development and help upland farmers, in the process.

Nobody can fault Engr Biton and me for dreaming for Cebu City ideas of making our people improve in their lives.

MARCO POLO HOTEL

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