Roxas and Romualdez

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Sunday, December 15, 2013


BASHING President Noynoy Aquino and Secretary Mar Roxas immediately spread days after Yolanda. The rants included legitimate complaints, deliberate disinformation campaigns, and calls for impeachment.

I was one of those saying it was not yet time and we should help first. I had my share of being labeled online as a Noynoymon and an Abnoy fan. Hahaha! Nothing could have been further from the truth.

Apparently, the bashers thought it was politically the time to push the anti-P-Noy and anti-Mar agenda. I think they succeeded in eliminating Roxas from the 2016 list of hopefuls. Okay, Roxas is still hoping but his fumbles paved the way for former senator Ping Lacson to become the rehabilitation czar and a 2016 hopeful.

Note too that the wily Vice President Jojo Binay also got burned by his epal relief efforts though he immediately pulled away. While many hopefuls are still lurking, I expect the P-Noy administration to continue eliminating politically Binay’s allies and thus cut down the vice president down to size.

***

The controversial video showing DILG Secretary Mar Roxas and Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez further polarized the political situation. More used the incident in an apparent campaign to put down the Aquino administration.

Although the Tacloban setting even before Yolanda was already highly-politicized, the video is being used as proof. And it amuses me to read anti-P-Noy partisans of the pro-Binay kind labeling as biased an article by Raissa Robles, citing details unfavorable to Romualdez.

Refusing to be bound by the partisan straitjacket, I look at the video controversy as a tragic episode in the continuing political wars spawned by patronage politics and political dynasties. Let me add that the warring political dynasties produced leaders who failed to rise to the Yolanda occasion.

I have been saying that instead of inspiring hope among typhoon survivors, President Aquino chose to look for people to blame in his first media statements immediately after Yolanda.

Secretary Mar decided to be at ground zero–Tacloban City–without a satellite phone or even a military radio a day before Yolanda struck. Pagasa spokesmen on television had been telling us that Yolanda’s winds could uproot trees. Secretary Mar failed to prepare for the possibility that the winds might also down cell sites.

Mayor Romualdez meanwhile blamed Pagasa for not explaining that a storm surge is like a tidal wave. Don’t tell me the villagers in an island off Guian, Samar were better informed than this scion of the Romualdez dynasty. Insisting that he did his best, his own video showed him holed up in his resort beside the sea. Unsaon pagtuo sa mga ordinaryong lungsoranon nga angay nang mobakwit kon si mayor mismo wa mobakwit?

And a Cebu-based radio commentator has an interesting story on why Mayor Alfred was nowhere to be found that weekend immediately after Yolanda, di ba Bay June Perez?

The more I am convinced that removing patronage politics and political dynasties is the way to go.

***

Is the ongoing reorganization at the Bureau of Customs going along the “matuwid na daan” or merely a change in collars and players? During a recent visit with friends at the Manila port, I got a sense that the pursuit of “matuwid na daan” is serious.

Perhaps Manila was blinded when a player that used to bring in boatloads of smuggled rice during the Estrada era is back with another boatload of rice. This time, his shipment is covered by an NFA allocation and import papers, practically the same scheme laid down by the former administration.

***

While we hail former political prisoner and South African president Nelson Mandela, we forgot that somewhere in our midst are political prisoners. Ramon Patriarca, for instance, languishes alone at the AFP Centcom camp here in Cebu City. Meanwhile, the P-Noy administration freed on parole convicted killer former Batangas governor Jose Antonio Leviste.

***

The human rights celebration in Cebu City way back in December 1979 was a baptism of sorts. I could still remember the cold water from a fire truck’s water cannon; the sound of truncheons and shields of uniformed men marching nearer; and the fear and anger I felt watching an assembly celebrating human rights day being dispersed by minions of the dictator. To cap the atrocity, they arrested Fr. Rudy Romano.

The assembly earlier gathered at the Redemptorist rotunda and listened to human rights advocate Pepe Diokno. It was the first open celebration of Human Rights Day I attended. The assembly of students, professionals, urban poor groups, seminarians, and
church people later marched to Fuente Osmeña.

The assembly regrouped and marched to the police station at the Ramos Public Market where the police brought Fr. Romano. When news reached Diokno that the police dispersed the assembly and arrested the activist priest, he cancelled his flight back to Manila, motored back from the airport, and successfully negotiated Fr. Romano’s release.

This movement led Fr. Romano to help form the Nagkahiusang Sugbo Alang sa Demokrasya (Nasud) and the Coalition Against People’s Persecution (CAPP).

Three years later, a young seminarian named Ramon Patriarca volunteered as a writer for the CAPP and Nasud. Today, Patriarca is a political prisoner while we remember every July 11 Fr. Romano’s still unsolved disappearance.

(politika2013.wordpress.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 16, 2013.

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