(2nd column)

NO MATTER how shrill are the denials of Albee Bantug Benitez, opponents for the 3rd district congressional seat, it is obvious that one of them is behind the disqualification case versus the Bantug heir. In fact, since he is obviously the culprit, he need not hide behind that farm worker who was used as the front man. If Benitez lacks the qualification, as clearly he does, then the petitioner should even be proud that he took the initiative of having Benitez disqualified so as to spare the people of his district from the tragedy of being represented by a complete stranger.

So, why deny authorship of something that is clearly to his district’s best interest?

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I am appalled by the impunity with which Bacolod City officials rush into criminal betrayal of the city’s interests. It is as if they couldn’t wait to rob Bacolod of every peso they could get their hands on.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 27, 2010.

The councilors’ breezy grant to mayor Bing Leonardia of the authority to sign the loan agreement and the latter’s signing it almost within the hour is revealing of the uncontrollable itch to turn the transaction into cash.

No matter how you look at it, there is absolutely no hurry to purchase the Arao land. The election is just five months away, and there is no telling how the electorate of Bacolod will vote. If Leonardia wins, then he has clearly the mandate to clinch the land deal. And reap its obvious rewards. But if he loses the election, then this rush into criminal betrayal would saddle the new mayor with a burden he may not like to carry.

It is said that evil is contagious. With corruption laden transactions piling one after the other, from the multi-million City Hall, the garbage dump and from innumerable petty thievery perpetrated even in the smallest city hall transaction, evil had indeed spread like wild fire all throughout the Leonardia administration, consuming public interest in its wake. And all the standards of honesty and integrity in public office which, under a less corrupt administration, should have been the exception rather than the rule.

The opposition to the Arao land was formidable. Legitimate urban poor groups formally opposed it. The church, normally uninvolved in the quarrels of politicians, has openly opposed it, even at the risk of identification with Rep. Monico Puentevella, who opposed it from the beginning. Media, too, has a field day in denouncing it as clearly “in aid of reelection.”

Brushing all these aside, city officials brazenly proceeded with the transaction, contemptuous of the opposition, of the urban groups, of the church, and even of their conscience, if they have one, in their mad rush to convert the land deal into cash.

Sidney Sheldon, in one of his best sellers, quoted Thomas Aquinas who said that “when you got to the heart of evil, there was nothing there.”

Might this also be true of the people we elected and reelected three years ago?

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Noynoy Aquino describes his campaign as “good versus evil.” His self serving categorization is obvious. But is he, really? And what is it about Villar, or Teodoro. Or Gordon, that is irretrievably evil? Or, for Eddie Villanueva, for that matter? Is the 2010 presidential campaign this simple to Aquino?

Unless we are all idiots, we should condemn him for hoisting such idiocy and chase him into political oblivion, where he rightfully belongs.

What could possibly qualify as pure evil, or to be a little kind, could come closer to it is the Leonardia administration. Evil is one who comes to you in an angels garb and tempts you with his angelic smile with his beautiful eyes as a bonus.

Betraying public trust as easily as it recites its morning prayers, the Leonardia administration has been with us far too long. It’s about time we send it to the dustbin, where it rightfully belongs.