PDI Editorial: ‘Nakakahiya’ (on the recall campaign against Among Ed)

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Arnold Tarrobago

Sep 3, 2008, 12:15:51 AM9/3/08

: ‘Nakakahiya’

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:04:00 09/03/2008 That most of the local officials of Pampanga province, especially the mayors and board members, are suddenly beside themselves with their non-negotiable demand for credible and clean leadership is not at all surprising. But their brazenness is still breathtaking. Simply put, their “campaign” is both shameful and shameless. In Filipino, “nakakahiya, walang hiya!”
We are referring to the petition purportedly initiated by Kapanalig at Kambilan ning Memalen Pampanga (Kambilan) for the recall of Gov. Eddie “Among Ed” Panlilio.
The petition, pushed by these same officials, is not unexpected and has partisanship written all over it. It is public knowledge that some of Panlilio’s political adversaries, from the time of his election, do not want him to finish his term. Right after his proclamation, they drove all over town waving their own version of the three R’s—recount, recall and requiem—like three swords of Damocles. Sure enough, a case for recount was filed shortly thereafter with the Commission on Elections by one of his rival candidates. (The Supreme Court forbade the recount while it deliberated on a related petition.) And the requiem? Panlilio himself has said that he has been told that a requiem (based on the Latin word for “rest,” and which in the Catholic Church’s lexicon refers to a Mass or service held especially for a deceased person) is being eyed by some of his enemies as a “last resort.”
Founded only last July, Kambilan can’t be the initiator of the recall drive; in fact, it can only be the front. This “non-profit and non-stock organization” is headed by the campaign manager of a losing candidate.
Candaba Mayor Jerry Pelayo’s statement that the Pampanga Mayors League will help gather the minimum 100,000 signatures needed for the recall petition gave Kambilan away: that is, it’s a skeleton that can’t come to life without the political networks of the very politicians unhappily watching Panlilio serve as Pampanga’s governor.
The recall petition is shameful and shameless because it is downright hypocritical. Pampanga today, despite being the home province of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, remains a “jueteng-free zone.” It remains, reportedly, the home base of the country’s most influential gambling lord. But Pampanga’s officials, except for Panlilio who is openly campaigning against this corrupting illegal numbers game, are not complaining. And they didn’t complain either when the province’s collection of lahar fees, prior to Panlilio’s term, was at unbelievable lows, amid talk that most of it was flowing into private pockets instead of provincial coffers. Neither did they care that the 2007 elections in Pampanga had been reduced, in the public mind, into a contest between jueteng interests and lahar money.
Disgusted and embarrassed by the prospect of having to vote “None of the Above,” conscientious Kapampangans looked for an alternative. They found a reluctant Father Panlilio who could not refuse because he had preached that the circumstances called for a strong moral stand for good governance, and they thought it was only he who had a fighting chance to win. The priest’s victory earned for the Kapampangans the nation’s admiration. It gave its people a new sense of pride, and Pampanga basked once again in a moment of glory. But most of all, it reassured all well-meaning Filipinos that there’s still hope for the country. Panlilio became the newest symbol of the Filipino people’s aspiration for a decent society.
Now that Panlilio has raised lahar collections from P2.41 million a month in 2006 to more than P17.57 million a month since June 2007, and insists on weeding out the underground lottery “jueteng,” Pampanga’s traditional politicians are scrambling to get him out. For a jumble of fuzzy reasons: loss of confidence in his leadership, gross negligence, perjury, failure to unify local officials, lack of clear directions and programs of actions, failure to deliver basic services, even non-attendance in meetings with the President. Well, the first time he went to such a meeting, he came home with a paper bag containing P500,000 and fell out of grace with Malacañang because he chose to tell the public about it.
The recall petition is not about good governance or transparency. It is about political opportunism and personal greed. At a time the Filipino nation is in desperate need of honest leaders, officials of the President’s province are doing everything to remove one. For shame.

Who dares teach should never cease learning. (sa Tagalog, "Bakit nga ba bumababa ang kalidad ng edukasyon sa Pilipinas?") 

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