Ran the front page of last week's Metro Post: "Dads nix proposal to ban cellphone use in banks." With it, a photo of the city council in session, one of the city's leading businessmen making a point, councillors listening in all their gravitas. Caption: "Businessman Edward Du and Engr. Greg Uymatiao explain...the position of the business sector [on] the use of cellphones inside banks."
Hmmm, maybe it was a slow news week for Dumaguete?
Flipped over to the op-ed section, and there it was again. Granting that such a story can make its way to the front page in the absence of other worthy news, but the subject of both the editorial and the editorial cartoon? It must have been a very serious debate indeed.
To which I must ask: has the city leadership gone mad?
Surely there are other more important and more pressing matters demanding of cogitation, discussion, and action. Things like city planning, waste management, fire prevention, environmental protection, traffic discipline, telecommunications, and the stability and cost of electricity. Things like investment promotion, business process outsourcing, quality of education, and streamlining of business registration processes.
Or how about community health services, prevention of violence against women and children, and curbing the rise of mendicancy and vagrancy? Or how about improving the public facilities, such as the city library, the fire department, the seaport terminal, and the airport? Or how about increasing the number of policemen, setting up patrol boxes in strategic locations, and improving criminal intelligence?
Or how about a master plan for the city that expands development beyond the established commercial center? Or how about adequate housing for the hundreds of tourists and students coming into the city? Or how about a scheme for cooperation and communication for a unified Metro Dumaguete? Or how about incentives for a better service industry? Or how about unified tourism promotion?
Once you've run through the gamut of practical issues of consequence, you can talk about art and literature and music for the edification of the human spirit. Or you can ruminate on economics and chemistry and biology and the environmental sciences for the betterment of the human condition. Or you can discuss mathematics and astronomy and physics to gain a better understanding of the universe. Or you can debate philosophy and ethics and religion and sexuality to better understand the human soul.
But...regulating cellphone use in banks?
Surely any other topic under the sun can generate a much worthier and more memorable spark of inspiration than this piece of jurisprudence: "The right of an individual to carry a cellphone must prevail over the right of the local government to regulate the same."
If nothing else, this little episode sheds much light on the state of city leadership (and by this, I do not mean only the elected officials):