Malilong: El Cid and El Mayor

THE original El Cid was an outstanding battlefield tactician and commander who won battles for his king in medieval Spain. His life and conquests are immortalized in the epic poem, “El Cantar de Mio Cid.”

Sheriff El Cid Caballes must have been named after the Spanish hero. Although he did not pursue a military career, every now and then, his work would bring him into conflict with those that he had to deal with, mostly losing litigants.

Apparently, none of his conflict experience has prepared him for his encounter with Mayor Tomas Osmeña the other day. El Cid II was on his way to enforce a court order, which he was holding, when a visibly irate Osmeña confronted him near the Provincial Capitol yesterday.

Cheered on by people who stood to lose their homes if the court writ were to be executed and who therefore have no love lost for the sheriff, the mayor virtually challenged Caballes to do battle, repeatedly asking him “sukol ka?” El Cid meekly answered no, apparently aware that not even the weight of court authority could help him against his protagonist.

Still, as an officer of the court, it embarrassed me that Caballes had to turn his back and walk away especially since I saw how the mayor earlier swung at the pieces of paper that the sheriff said were his order from the court and which he attempted to show to the mayor.

I couldn’t blame him though. Prudence is still the better part of valor.

Osmeña said he was trying to protect the interests not only of the residents who were in danger of being evicted but also those of the government.

The city does not own the land and neither do its occupants but Osmeña nevertheless saw it necessary to demand that the sheriff present to him a technical description of the property that was covered by the court order.

I understand the mayor’s concern for the informal settlers, who are his constituents. It’s a legitimate concern. If he was grandstanding for political ends, I leave it to those who saw the video to decide.

It must be stated though that the means that he employed were not consistent with the rule of law. It certainly was disrespectful of Caballes and of the court that sent him to execute its order.

The day after the incident, Osmeña showed neither fear nor regret, saying in a radio interview, that he was willing to face the consequences of his intervention. In fact, he dared the people who, he claimed, were behind Caballes to file charges against him so he could expose them. “Magka-alaman na,” as the Tagalogs are wont to say.

If only for that, I hope that they, assuming that they do exist, would oblige him.
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