Pablo John up close

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Friday, May 3, 2013


I DON'T personally know One Cebu gubernatorial bet Pablo John Garcia. When a fellow columnist who once worked at the Capitol asked me to compare “PJ” with Liberal Party (LP) gubernatorial bet Hilario Davide III, I was stumped. I told him that, from the statements he made when he was Capitol consultant and his answers to criticisms when he became third district congressman, he sounds much like suspended Gov. Gwen Garcia.

The fellow columnist contradicted me and insisted PJ is the opposite of his older sister. Since then, I have gathered information about the younger Garcia, both flattering and not flattering. I got more when he was guest of the “Tell It to Sun.Star” forum last Wednesday.

Questions about leadership style surfaced in that gathering attended by Sun.Star Cebu editors and reporters. How can he be not like his sister? I like PJ’s style vs. substance differentiation. “We are two different persons,” he said. An example: unlike Gwen, he can be cool in his response to issues. But the substance will be the same. Which is like saying his style will substantially still be “Tatak Garcia.”

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But can he be the workaholic that Gwen was? That question floated in my mind as I recalled another older Garcia’s description of PJ, that he sometimes takes things leisurely. But a governor of province with a big constituency like Cebu should be prepared to straddle the breadth and length of its major and minor islands. He can’t be holed up in the Capitol like many of the past male and older (than Gwen) governors did.

“I am getting the hang of it in this campaign period,” PJ said, apparently referring to the wandering ways of his sister. I just hope he meant what he said and builds up on it, if ever he becomes governor.

One other interesting point that surfaced in that forum was about public service. PJ, who is younger than many candidates hereabouts, reminded me of my old self when he tackled the highs of helping other people and of making a difference in their lives. I got goose bumps recalling in my mind the years I spent in the mountains with the peasants.

I have a different take from the younger Garcia, though, on the matter of political dynasties. But first off, I agree with him on two things: one, that there is first a need to define terms and, two, that it is the people themselves who are voting members of political clans into office. But I don’t agree with him about the supposedly positive effects of the rule of political families on governance.

In a way, PJ contradicted himself when he criticized the Yaphas’ leadership when the said family controlled the politics not only in Pinamungajan town but also the entire third district. Indeed, one can gather numerous examples past and present and from Maguindanao to Ilocos of how the rule of “political dynasties” destroyed democracy and governance in many areas where they flourish.

Then again, the effect of the practice of political dynasties can be a hit and miss thing. PJ’s citing himself as an example of the positive contribution of political dynasties to the molding of the country’s political leaders is interesting. His having been Capitol consultant and two-term congressman can be attributed to his being a member of one of Cebu’s political clans. And he is correct in considering that “training” as having prepared him for a possible stint as governor.

(khanwens@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 03, 2013.

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