Espinoza: Cleansing or loyalty check?

Espinoza: Cleansing or loyalty check?
SunStar EspinozaFree Zone

I tried to disabuse my mind but I can’t on the current trend of this administration to suspend elected local government officials from holding office, especially those with pending issues before the Ombudsman, as a way of showing its muscle for those who disagree with or differ politically from the direction of the present national leadership.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama is perhaps one of the classic examples. Aside from the fact that he had a pending simple case before the Ombudsman when four employees at the City Assessor’s Office complained that their salaries were withheld without apparent cause, he joined the rally of then President Digong Duterte here in Cebu City against the move to amend our Constitution.

I recently received raw information that more heads of local chief executives would roll, or simply said would be suspended as they have pending cases before the Ombudsman and the graft court. I was given the names of those who have pending cases before the Ombudsman and Sandiganbayan, but decency and ethics dictate I cannot reveal their names.

For local officials who have pending issues either before the Ombudsman or cases pending for decision at the Sandiganbayan, they should by now have an inkling on the outcome of their cases. If they are not suspended, or if they are acquitted of the charges, good for them. I’m afraid, though, the outcome will probably be the opposite. But I wish not.

Is the direction of this administration of suspending from holding office local elected officials a way of cleansing its ranks, or a plain and simple loyalty check? Let’s not overlook the fact that there are only a few months left before the holding of the midterm elections.

Remember it was widely rumored a month ago that Davao City Mayor Baste Duterte, son of former President Digong, would be suspended after he publicly bashed President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in a rally?

In the case of suspended Mayor Rama, talks are spreading fast that he could not return to his office since there is another suspension coming even before he could fully serve his six-month suspension.

Despite talks of another suspension, Rama is not alarmed. The issues against him have not dampened his desire to seek reelection and complete his last term as Cebu City’s chief executive, even with the collapse of his coalition party.

Rama ran and won the last election under Barug Team Rama against former city councilor Margot Osmeña, wife of former mayor Tomas Osmeña, in coalition with Panaghiusa Party of MCWD chairman Joey Daluz and Kusug Party of Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia, now the acting city mayor.

The breakdown of the UniTeam of former president Digong Duterte and the Marcoses that catapulted President Marcos to Malacañang after Vice President Sara Duterte left the Cabinet as education secretary could determine political lines of candidates for local government units in the midterm polls.

In 2018, then Davao City mayor Sara Duterte organized the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) Party that was part of UniTeam where she ran for vice president and supported the candidacy of Marcos for president. Marcos won against presidential bet Leni Robredo of the Liberal Party.

In next year’s elections, the realignment of local parties affiliating with either the party of President BBM or the party of then President Digong, the Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas, or VP Sara’s HNP is expected. This is likely to happen under our current political practices. But pragmatic politicians would naturally align with the administration party, which has the political machinery.

I already have in mind those who will be jumping into the party of President Marcos.

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