There goes the ‘Daang Matuwid’ slogan

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Friday, December 21, 2012


I HEARD about the “suspension plan” months ago when things were politically nebulous.

Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia was at that time dreaming of running for the Senate. The secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government was still the late Jesse Robredo.

To take away the governor's advantages as an incumbent in the 2013 polls, she was to be suspended for the duration of the campaign period. That would allow bets of the administration Liberal Party (LP), which is the opposition in Cebu province, to take over Capitol and place them in a position to win the elections. To be effective, the length of the suspension should be six months and it should be implemented in December.

A few weeks after, the Office of the Ombudsman charged Garcia with graft with the Sandiganbayan in connection with the controversial purchase of the Balili lot in Naga City. That was obviously one of the reasons Garcia decided to let go of her senatorial dreams and instead run for congresswoman in the third district. Had she been preventively suspended for six months after the filing of that case in court, she could have returned to her post before election day.

This is what makes the order by LP president and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas (who replaced Robredo) to suspend Garcia for another complaint, one filed by the late vice governor Gregorio Sanchez in 2010, interesting. The order handed down this December fits snugly into the intent of preventing Garcia's early return to the Capitol.

One can argue that the suspension was self-inflicted. Garcia's objectionable acts while in office have made her vulnerable to the plan hatched by her opponents. She made many enemies, most of whom are now rejoicing over her fate and mocking her. She provided her opponents with the ammunition to shoot her down from her perch.

The flipside to that concerns the Aquino administration and specifically Roxas. My support for the candidacy of Noynoy Aquino in the 2010 presidential elections was based primarily on my belief that he would restore decency in governance. Decent governance does not involve scheming and the use of power to gain political advantage.

That act does not separate the Aquino administration from that of his predecessor.

The LP may succeed in taking over Capitol during the campaign period and eventually win the gubernatorial race in 2013. But at what cost to its image? The tandem of Hilario “Junjun” Davide III began the campaign as underdogs but were perceived as decent politicians. Now the roles have been reversed, with LP shown muscling its way to power using Malacañang and the governor ending up becoming the underdog.

And there goes the “Daang Matuwid” slogan of the Aquino administration. While the “corrupt” tag can’t still be tacked on the President and his friend Roxas, they have shown that they are not averse to using schemes to advance their political goals. I reckon that other government officials who are not aligned with the LP in the 2013 elections can no longer sleep well now.

Our kind of politics, of course, is no morality play. The first one to understand that was Durano patriarch Mano Amon (Ramon), who described politics as “duwa sa yawa.” All I can say now is that the “Daang Matuwid” slogan was good while it lasted. Sadly, its existence was rather short.

(khanwens@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 21, 2012.

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