Naguit Punches-A A +A
My Palm Notes
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Mayor Lito Naguit of Sto. Tomas town reportedly “hitting an old man” just seemed off and unlikely.
This is not taking sides but for a local government unit head to be punching a helpless senior citizen is like tantamount to saying that some mayors in Pampanga have become fearless, violent and cruel.
This is also not saying that Naguit is such a saint that he would barely swat a fly. Nope, not at all.
In these days of so-called “matuwid na landas”, LGU heads (especially here in Pampanga) are constantly placed under the microscope. And with that, the way local officials behave and conduct themselves is also put to a test aside from their management of municipal coffers.
I could not fault this paper’s reporter Herbert Mapiles for coming up with the news story. After all, it’s a valid news account and he is duty bound to run the story with the mayor’s side, of course, which came side by side with the banner story two days ago.
But I still find the story about a certain Zoilo Briones, an octogenarian (83 to be exact) and constituent of Naguit from Barangay Sto. Nino Sapa to be incredible.
In Mapiles’s story, Mang Zoilo claimed that Naguit’s two bodyguards held him while the mayor punched him in different parts of his poor body. The incident reportedly stemmed from Mang Zoilo’s appeal to a mayor’s staff to remove sand that was blocking the former’s garage.
As reported to the police and picked up by Mapiles, the mayor was pictured to be merciless, cruel and disrespectful based on Mang Zoilo’s plaint. Well, that’s the way Naguit appeared to have behaved based on the old man’s account.
I’ve always known the mayor to be level-headed, cool and even soft-spoken.
Naguit appearing on a scene and punching a helpless senior citizen over a complaint on a pile of sand is just too good to be true. Why would he do that? Why would he risk his reputation and political career, with the elections just eight months away?
Ahhh yes, elections!
“It’s purely politics,” says Naguit in his rejoinder to Mapiles’s story.
This makes one to think (me included) and ask: Could it be that Naguit’s political foes have joined in the fray?
To that, Naguit says his detractors have taken advantage of the situation by egging Mang Zoilo to file a complaint before the police. The supposed punching incident, included.
Naguit clarified that one reason he went to see the old man was a report that reached him that the latter was allegedly complaining and even cursing at his staff who were clearing and fixing the road that was affected by recent floods in the town.
He admits though that he confronted Mang Zoilo after his staff and workers received a mouthful from the old man. But in the heated conversation that followed, Naguit doesn’t remember even touching his constituent.
What he recalls is that the old man was fuming mad because of the pile of sand that rendered his garage impassable as spoils (apparently from graders, shovels) turned up high in front of Mang Zoilo’s property.
The staff did not think it was going to be a big deal for the old man as they noted that pre-positioned sandbags (I suppose to prevent floodwaters from entering the property) was already blocking the driveway or garage.
And so, it is now a big issue with Naguit landing on a banner headline as a puncher of an old man, thus, facing a legal case. That left a bad aftertaste for a mayor who, despite his small size, has done big for a little town in his incumbency as mayor.
I think that Naguit will be filing counter charges of libel and oral defamation. Why not? He was vilified by that account.
It’s Naguit’s word against the old man’s now. But then again, imagine, how could Naguit purportedly throw not just one punch on an old man’s body?
With or without people around, in broad daylight or nighttime, with provocation or none, that’s just unlikely.
CRIPPLING EFFECT. I knew it – the so-called back channeling of Senator Trillanes would badly affect the current initiatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs on China maritime claims of Philippine territories.
It would also have chilling effect on our country's foreign policy in general.
I could not blame DFA Sec. Albert Del Rosario for mulling resignation after the Trillanes initiative for backdoor talks. That move by the former mutineer was seen as “interference” in solving the maritime dispute with China.
I could also feel the pain in Sec. Del Rosario’s being. The back channeling or secret negotiations may have come to him like being told “hey, what you are doing is not enough, is not effective.”
And so the plan to resign now. We hope that the good secretary does not do that.
A lot of people want him to stay. One of them is Loida Nicolas Lewis, chairperson of US Pinoys for Good Governance.
Lewis has publicly come out with a letter-sentiment on the issue, with an appeal to President Aquino. Here’s a portion of it.
“As a Filipino American actively concerned with the significant events in the Philippines, I am very alarmed that the Honorable Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert de Rosario would even think about quitting the DFA. President Aquino would be ill-advised if he would allow this rumor to continue. It means China has won this battle over Scarborough Shoal!
In addition, it would be a blow to President Aquino's leadership because of the perception that he is backing a neophyte Senator over the hardworking, experienced, versatile, and well-respected internationally known Secretary del Rosario. On behalf of US Pinoys for Good Governance, we earnestly request the President to express his full support to and unconditional confidence in Secretary Del Rosario.”
Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia has also expressed support to Del Rosario.
"I firmly support the principled leadership exhibited by our Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert F. del Rosario, and his stewardship as he orchestrated the Philippine government’s diplomatic efforts through the most challenging of circumstances.
"The Secretary has tirelessly led the Department of Foreign Affairs in making the honorable and oftentimes arduous stand to defend our national security and territorial sovereignty, based on the policy guidance provided by H.E. President Benigno S. Aquino III.
"In his dealings with various governments, Secretary del Rosario has demonstrated a single-minded determination to uphold the Philippine national interest at all costs. This includes taking great personal risk to go to the front lines in conflict areas abroad to lead our people to safety. He is a true patriot.
"We at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC continue to be inspired by the Secretary’s courage, integrity and fortitude. We commit to rededicate our full efforts to support the Secretary, and continue to make our contribution to his efforts to protect and uphold our sovereignty, and ensure the safety and well-being of our people."
The Ambassador was also joined by embassy officers and personnel in expression of support.
"We stand behind the Secretary's principled defense of the security of our country and his untiring efforts to promote a better life of Filipinos," they said in a signed statement.
I join other groups and individuals in asking Sec. Del Rosario to stay put. He is doing a great job at the DFA. He should also be fully supported by Malacañang.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on September 26, 2012.