The power of the permit plate

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By Giano M. Libot

I have issues

Thursday, January 30, 2014


THE crafting of images into stone has often been attributed to immortality, such was the vanity and the ills of the kings of old, the princes, the royals and monarchs that today’s society has slowly abandoned. Cast as sculpture the heads of rulers stand to remain forever cased through time, like a monolith that watches over the land. For many they stood as reminders of a ruler’s power, the eyes of a king fixed upon them to watch over, perhaps with grace or with terror depending on how the ruler’s temperament was.

The decision to affix Mayor Moreno’s face on the permit plates is not quite near the grandeur of posting his own statue; the vanity that we often is the reaction from his move is quickly justified by his administration as one that finds its roots on transparency not narcissism.

A face of accountability was the defense of city hall. We need a face, and he is the face to speak on behalf of us all, well perhaps beside other landmarks which the city has been known for. Which finds some semblance of justice, he serves the people’s mandate, he won last June, he was entrusted the keys to the city, and he sits as its rightful ruler.

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And yet without even entertaining the thought of ill intention there is something wrong about the fixture of politicians on the faces of public plates. Even Moreno himself recognizes this, quick again to explain that his legacy has always been to resist such “temptations” brought out by posturizing oneself as one would a public landmark.

The conflict arises not on mere intention which believable. He could be innocently right in saying he wants a face of accountability, but of course on reception. It is not the ruler who really experiences the frightful gazes of a large statue. When Stalin’s statue was toppled down in 1956 during the Hungarian protest it was an expression not of mere violence but an act against the symbol which has oppressed them for so long, Moreno is not Stalin, but he should be careful affixing his face, he has quite willingly embarked to be a symbol of this city. The plate seems like the first place to start.

Symbols could also be positive, a reminder of struggle and courage. The Statue of William Wallace stands proud on the grounds of the Bemersyde estate, commemorating freedom for the Scottish people. Moreno is not William Wallace, but if he succeeds he must know that his plate does not ensure him the same effect, people now don’t often crowd over symbols as we used to, and more so a symbol on a permit plate, his challenge now far surpasses just being a face, people will continue to throw stones at the symbol. Do they have a right? Of course! But he has to be active in defending the symbol he willingly put up, not through words but through servitude.

Beyond the conspiracy of motivation, whether this stands as an act of vanity or self-advertising, or a genuine action to be held even more accountable, what is upon us now is hold that plate up for its word. It will be reminder of success or failure, you can cheer for it, or you can throw an egg at it.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 30, 2014.

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