Sunday, August 01, 2021

Velez: A tale of two mayors, or maybe three

Tyrone Velez


ISKO and Vico are two of the popular mayors who have faced a similar dilemma the past two weeks with activists in their respective cities.

One week ago, cultural activists sprayed graffiti on the repainted Laguinsilad underpass in Manila, which angered Isko Moreno.

Isko goes off on his popular Facebook page to scold the activists: “...pag nahuli ko kayo, padidila ko sa inyo ‘to. Buburahin niyo ‘to ng dila niyo, (If I catch you, I will let you clean this by licking it up),” he warned.

Isko has an obsession of late with cleanliness, and order. It’s a daily show on his Facebook live that he goes sweeping off vendors and drivers who he claimed failed to keep their places clean.

But this raises a question on what do we consider clean? Of late, even vendors are staging a campout in front of his city hall asking for a dialogue to clear things out.

The cultural activists point out their graffiti wanted to show the real dirt is that of lack of jobs and homes for the poor, who are now swept away in the dirty and ugly war on drugs.

Meanwhile, Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto helped out 23 people who were beaten and arrested during the dispersal of the workers’ strike in Regent Foods.

Vico made his statement saying that when his constituents, referring to the detained workers, “are being deprived of liberty as they fight for their rights as workers, I cannot sit around and do nothing.”

The mayor said he could not accept the Regent company’s refusal to drop the charges. “These people are not criminals; they do not have the goal of hurting you, You can continue with the labor dispute without sending the poor and powerless to jail!”

Vico has pooled resources to pay for the bail bond of the 23 detained workers and bystanders, a bold move that earned praise from activists for his siding with the poor at the risk of losing investors.

This position stands in contrast to Mayor Sara’s action in 2018 against striking Coca-Cola workers. Some 200 workers of that company were victims of Endo that prodded them to strike demanding their reinstatement.

Mayor Sara ordered the dispersal of the strike, saying the “protest has already compromised public interest.” Ten workers were detained and charged with disobedience to persons of authority. But the charges were dismissed six months later.

Leadership is about having courage to make unpopular decisions and standing for a good cause. If we’re looking ahead, then these actions now define what they can become.


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