By Alex P. Vidal
“Persecution is the first law of society because it is always easier to suppress criticism than to meet it.”—Howard Mumford Jones
THE Philippine jurisprudence is always replete with decisions favoring rank-and-file employees against governors and mayors accused of political harassment and abuse of authority.
When lowly municipal, city hall, provincial capitol employees or department chiefs file a complaint for harassment against vindictive local chef executives, chances are the law will tilt on their favor.
In all areas in life, the Goliaths have always been destined to capitulate against the Davids.
Not all the charges lodged against the local chief executives—village chiefs, mayors, governors—of course, are valid and credible.
There were cases filed against the local chief executives that were also politically motivated if not acts of desperation and, believe it or not, also harassment.
Especially if the accusers are backed financially and otherwise by the incumbent local chief executives’ forlorn political opponents.
The flagrant sin of vindictiveness is not the exclusive domain of incumbent barangay captains, municipal and city mayors, and governors.
The case of Antique Governor Rhodora Cadiao is a classic example.
She had been ordered arrested by Sandiganbayan Seventh Division chair, Associate Justice Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta, for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The warrant of arrest stemmed from the complaint filed by Antique Provincial General Services Office chief Antonio Dela Vega, who was reassigned in 2016 to a satellite office in Ajuy town, around 100 kilometers north of the provincial capital town of San Jose.
Dela Vega questioned Cadiao’s order, saying it was tantamount to constructive dismissal; and her refusal to sign his daily time record that would have allowed him to collect P1.6 million in representation and travel allowances from July 2016 to February 2018, or the duration of time when he was reassigned to Culasi.
The Sandiganbayan based its decision on the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act provision that determined the governor’s act may have caused “any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence”.
Cadiao may have dodged any arrest if she posted a P90,000 bail as reported earlier.
Since the case has not been decided with finality, we can’t tell if Cadiao is guilty of harassing or persecuting Dela Vega or she was merely exercising her authority to “discipline” a capitol employee who allegedly went AWOL (absent without leave). The case is a matter for the court to resolve.
We just hope De Vega did not earn the governor’s ire for supporting her rival in the past elections. That’s a red flag for political harassment, persecution and vindictiveness.
We also hope De Vega’s case against the governor did not prosper and develop out of spite and insubordination.
In a spat with government employees, local chief executive always have nothing to gain but have everything to lose.
In order to avoid trouble in the social media, may I respectfully suggest the following:
- BE HUMBLE. Refrain from feeling “sikat” (famous), special, and important. Let’s always plant our feet on the ground by showing that we belong. No one is superior here. “Ownership” of a social media account is not a special power or privilege. We are all at the beck and mercy of the social media administrators who have the authority to terminate our accounts if we misbehave.
- DON’T EMBARRASS OTHERS. If we don’t like or don’t agree with the comments or posts of others especially on topics about religion and politics, let’s not embarrass them. All opinions matter. We must avoid provocative and insulting comments. Don’t do to others what we wouldn’t want others do unto us. Respect begets respect. We can’t win an argument if we use bullying tactics. We don’t have the exclusive franchise to humiliate others; if we do, expect a retaliation and a slanderous brawl.
- BE NICE; BE DECENT. Let’s use the social media to foster camaraderie and win friends (especially those we haven’t met in person but were always commenting on our walls). Let’s avoid the use of expletives and hurting words, if possible. If we have nothing good to say or post, post or say nothing. Just in case we inadvertently forget to “like” good and kind comments, let’s always reply with a “thank you.”
- NO CURSING, PLEASE. If we have a domestic spat with our partners, children, parents, officemates, employers, employees; if we disagree with our electric and phone bills, let’s not declare an Armageddon in the social media. Let’s protect the social media’s internal ecosystem with a quality and above-board interaction; let’s not poison the Facebook community with laser-laced profanities if we are galit sa mundo (mad at the universe).
- DON’T GOSSIP; DON’T SOW INTRIGUE. Gossiping and sowing of intrigues are the No. 1 killers of friendship, goodwill, and peace of mind; the No. 1 promoters of feud, bedlam, deep-seated strife in the social media. Let’s altogether discard and detest them.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)