The case for Gwen (and Agnes, too)-A A +A
Sunday, January 6, 2013
I ONCE asked my friends where all this anger against Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia is coming from. I open my radio set and all I hear are criticisms against the governor, some of them mocking and downright libelous. I write a column that readers perceive as siding with Gwen and I am called names (“binayran,” “buang”) like when I was pilloried by fans of former chief justice Renato Corona for supporting moves to impeach him.
It’s among the hazards of the profession, I know. What I dish out, I can take back and more. But as a media practitioner, I am appalled at the effort to deprive Garcia of her humanity and portray her as all-evil. Objectivity is lost, leaving nothing but hatred.
It would be interesting to find out if this Gwen-bashing has affected the thinking of people in the province where the influence of the Cebu and social media is almost negligible. Out there, people assess the performance and character of a government official more on the projects that they deliver and their visits to their places of abode. We will know the answer to that when the votes in the May polls are counted.
Calling me names won’t affect my stance on issues I write about. My views on the Garcia administration in the province, for example, have not changed despite the mud currently hurled at it daily. I maintain my stand that among the governors I have covered as a media person, Gwen is the best performer. That assessment will change if it is proven without a doubt that she is also the most corrupt governor in history.
Until that happens, I will put premium in my appraisal of Garcia’s rule on how she changed the province in her more than eight-year stint as governor. On that, I always go back to noting the growth of the place close to my heart: the Camotes group of islands.
The Camotes that I knew when I was younger—neglected and dirt poor---is no longer the Camotes that we are seeing now---getting Capitol’s attention in terms of projects and already starting to realize its tourism potentials. A big chunk of the credit for that goes to two of the most hardworking provincial officials that I know of, Garcia and Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale (a long-time Provincial Board member representing the fifth district where Camotes belongs).
What I have seen in Camotes is a microcosm of the same reality in the entire province.
Improvements can be seen in almost all aspects of governance and in the delivery of basic services. The governor is a workaholic and performance-oriented, a character that has also become a “bane” because she easily loses patience at underperforming underlings and becomes tempestuous because of it.
And yet her achievements can’t be underplayed. It’s not only about infrastructure but in other aspects as well, like in tourism (her critics don’t understand it, but even her much-maligned Suroy-Suroy Sugbo served to spark the raising of local governments’ awareness of their tourism potentials), in health (after being criticized for “neglecting” the district hospitals, the improvements have become palpable), in culture (the old jail is now among the better museums around, awareness of heritage preservation has been raised), to mention a few.
Those are achievements that, as I have pointed out before, the next governor (either Pablo John Garcia or Hilario Davide III) may not be able to approximate. And those are achievements that I will never lose sight of when weighing Gwen.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 07, 2013.