AT THE CAMI forum in Clark last Friday, Angeles City Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan had a crisp, short and simple answer to my question, as if his tectonic decision was a no-brainer.
It was a four-word sentence: it's a personal choice.
EdPam had chosen his vice mayor Bryan Nepomuceno, scion of an erstwhile rival, over his long-time pal and former chief of staff, Alex Cauguiran, former president of the Clark International Airport Corp.
Why the counterintuitive move?
Choices presuppose stakes, gains, losses. Make no mistake about it. EdPam had those in mind when he did make that strategic choice.
Let's look at his logical balance sheet.
He and Alex go a long way back since the Pinatubo era. He lawyered for him, eventually appointed him as his chief of staff and worked for his designation as top honcho at the state-owned airport agency.
Alex was good. He was an action man, an implementor, an executor. They shared the same passion for a lot of things. They have the heart for the little guys, for one. They both envisioned a better future for Angeles.
But Alex has a problem, though. He has sharp elbows and he has rubbed not a few people under, around and above him the wrong way. At CIAC, at the city hall. One of them is no less than Alex's boss, Transportation Secretary Art Tugade, who also has sharp elbows like Alex.
EdPam stepped in. He dropped on all four and begged Tugade to leave Alex alone at CIAC. Which the tough Cabinet member did. After all, he and EdPam are both lawyers and alumni from San Beda, like their President. They also share the same penchant for the P word.
EdPam has only praises for Alex for what he has done at CIAC. No question about his competence, about his commitment.
On the other hand, Bryan is his partner at the city hall. A lawyer like him, Bryan has given EdPam all the support he needed for his programs and plans for Angeles. Like the passage of an ordinance that authorized him to borrow P1.2 billion for an infrastructure package that includes, among others, the building of a sports complex.
Apparently, this triggered it all. Alex saw no wisdom, no practicality, no necessity for the project. He even doubted the principle behind. Edpam unseated Bryan's uncle, Blueboy, for a similar project. Now the shoe is on the other foot.
EdPam made it sound like Alex's arguments were impractical, myopic and even silly. Why borrow or rent a neighbor's sports complex when you can have your own? Besides, everything was done through the legal process.
After all has been said and done, EdPam considers Alex his friend of old. Nothing, it seems, or nobody, will change that.
In chess, a good player will sacrifice, a pawn or queen, to gain material or positional advantage or both and win the game. The famous American chess genius Bobby Fischer sacrificed his queen in a championship match against Russia's Boris Spasky and eventually checkmated his opponent in 15 moves.
EdPam has made his move. It's your turn, President Alex.