Mel Lopez

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Gemiliano Lopez, Jr.
Chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission
In office
1993–1996
Mayor of Manila
In office
February 2, 1988 – June 30, 1992
Preceded by Gregorio Ejercito
Succeeded by Alfredo Lim
In office
March 26, 1986 – December 3, 1987
Preceded by Ramon Bagatsing
Succeeded by Gregorio Ejercito
Mambabatas Pambansa (Assemblyman) from Manila
In office
June 30, 1984 – March 25, 1986
Serving with Lito Atienza, Eva Estrada-Kalaw, Carlos Fernando, Gonzalo Puyat II, and Arturo Tolentino
President Pro-Tempore of the Manila City Council
In office
1972–1975
Acting Vice Mayor of Manila
In office
1971–1971
Member of the Manila City Council
In office
1968–1975
Personal details
Born Gemiliano Campos López
(1935-09-01) September 1, 1935 (age 79)
Manila
Political party Liberal Party
UNIDO
PDP-LABAN
Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino
Lakas-NUCD
KNP
Occupation Politician

Gemiliano "Mel" Campos López, Jr. (born September 1, 1935) is a Filipino politician who served as the Mayor of Manila from 1986 to 1987 and 1988 to 1992 and an assemblyman of the Batasang Pambansa of the Philippines from 1984 to 1986.

Early life and education[edit]

Mel Lopez was born in Manila on September 1, 1935 to Carmen Campos of Bulacan and Lt. Col. Gemiliano López Sr. of Manila.

He graduated from the Jose Rizal University (formerly Jose Rizal College) with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Commercial Science. He also played swimming, boxing and basketball in the NCAA for the JRU Heavy Bombers.

Political life[edit]

Councilor (1967 - 1975)[edit]

Moments before the Plaza Miranda Bombings in 1971

On August 21, 1971, 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing marred a Liberal Party rally, killing 9 persons and injuring 92 more, including Lopez, who was then a councilor. President Ferdinand Marcos used the bombing incident as a basis to suspend the writ of habeas corpus.

When Marcos declared martial law, Lopez decided to organize active opposition to the regime that could eventually topple it and help restore democracy to the country. He held secret meetings with labor and student leaders, community and political leaders, exploring ideas on how to organize opposition to the martial law regime.

Laban[edit]

Lopez was among the founding signatories of Laban, a contraction of “Lakas ng Bayan” and a Tagalog translation of People’s Power. When Marcos announced an election for the Interim Batasang Pambansa on April 7, 1978, he was the campaign manager in Manila, organizing sorties and meetings to attract more citizens to oppose Marcos' dictatorial rule.

Batasang Pambansa (1984 - 1986)[edit]

In recognition of his leadership in Manila, some 20 prospective candidates of United Nationalists Democratic Organizations (UNIDO) for the 1984 Batasang Pambansa elections signed a resolution giving him authority to select the five other candidates for the six assembly seats assigned to Manila based on voting population.

Marcos' ticket, the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, suffered a heavy blow and the UNIDO candidates including Lopez and four others won. While serving in the Batasang Pambansa, he filed bills aimed at proposing the compensation income of spouses who are both employees to be taxed separately, paying lower taxes, seeking to abolish the Metro Manila Commission, providing for the establishment of the Philippine National Language Commission, and providing for a synchronization of national and local elections in 1986.

Mayor of Manila (1986 - 1992)[edit]

Lopez takes his oath as Mayor in 1988

After the People Power Revolution, Lopez was appointed as Mayor of Manila. During his early years, his administration was faced with 700 million pesos worth of debt and inherited an empty treasury. In the first eleven months, however, the debt was reduced to 365 million pesos and the city's income rose by around 70%. Revenues from movie theaters rose by 180%, from public markets 170%, and the Manila Zoo began to have profits. Manila had an annual income of over 700 million pesos due to these increase in tax revenues. Within the same eleven months, 21 schools were built. Squatters were relocated, with an average of 12,700 families a year.[1]

During the 1988 elections, he ran for a full term under the PDP-LABAN and won, defeating Former Assemblyman Lito Atienza and Former Senator Eva Estrada-Kalaw.

Lopez closed down numerous illegal gambling joints and jueteng. He also blocked the re-opening of jai-alai, the “game of the thousand thrills,” despite pressure from powerful groups.

In January 1990, Lopez padlocked two Manila casinos operated by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), saying the billions it gained cannot make up for the negative effects gambling inflicts upon the people, particularly the youth. As a result of this, he was charged with graft in the Sandiganbayan in the same year. The case remained unresolved until it was finally dropped in June 2002.[2]

He also worked for the revival of the Boys’ Town Haven (now referred to as “Boys Town”), rehabilitating its facilities to accommodate underprivileged children and provide them with livelihood and education.

During the 1992 elections, he lost reelection to former National Bureau of Investigation director Alfredo Lim.

Post-mayoralty (1988 - 1992)[edit]

In 1993, he was appointed by President Fidel Ramos as Chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission, serving until 1996.

In 1995, he sought a rematch against Lim but was unsuccessful. Nine years later, in 2004, he ran again for mayor against then incumbent Lito Atienza under the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) but lost.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Joaquin, Nick (1990). Manila,My Manila. Vera-Reyes, Inc. 
  2. ^ Sandigan clears former Mayor Lopez