By: Alex P. Vidal
NO matter how the Iloilo City Legal Office package, justify, and camouflage the “electioneering” case recently filed against three City Hall officials Danny Tan, Vincent de la Cruz, and Eireen Manikan, Ilonggos will still sneer at it as nothing but a political vendetta.
Ilonggos weren’t born yesterday to believe hook, line, and sinker that casual employees Dennis Biñas, Julia Bitonga, Jena Jose, and Donephine Domingo weren’t coaxed, coached, and guided by some powerful subalterns of Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas to sue the three officials suspected of siding with former mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III in the May elections.
Only fools will agree that the casual workers filed the case on their own volition and resources, and without any help or influence from the big bosses in the mayor’s office.
Ilonggos will, of course, suspect that the four casual workers may have been dispatched by City Administrator Melchor Tan and briefed by City Legal Officer Edgardo Gil to formalize the cases for violation of the Election Code/Fair Election Act, Civil Service Law, and Republic Act No. 6713 (Code of Ethical Standards for Government Officials and Employees) against Tan, de la Cruz, and Manikan.
Administrator Tan is in charge of the hiring and appointment of casual employees, while Gil has been very vocal and sharply familiar with the case as if the four complainants are under his direct supervision.
The casual workers have singled out the three officials to be the ones who called them for a meeting at City Hall sometime in February, or three months before the elections, allegedly to compel them to support Espinosa III.
They considered the statement as a threat “since our employment is at the stake if we will not follow his instructions.”
They added in a statement: “We were likewise directed to recruit at least 10 persons to attend ‘Pag-ulikid’.”
Many believed that Espinosa anchored his bid to keep his office through “Pag-ulikid sang Syudad”, a community outreach program that brought city government frontline services to the barangays.
Since it appears to be crystal clear that City Hall may be behind the legal juggernaut against the three suspected Espinosa III backers now bearing the brunt of an apparent “witch hunt” under the Treñas administration, some Ilonggos may view this internal pandemonium to be “obvious political persecution.”
Granting that Tan, de la Cruz, and Manikan really rooted for Espinosa III in the recent polls, their “offense” should be understandable and even pardonable since they too were part of a system that demands adherence to the status quo.
It’s not about personality, but more as jurisdiction and stability.
The reality is because most department heads or officials holding permanent positions in any government office normally develop a “good working relationship” (a euphemism for affection or feeling of endearment) with whoever is the incumbent (appointed or elected) mayor, governor, director, secretary, or general manager, partisanship in incoming competition or election is hard to reject and avoid.
The relationship should be mutual and necessary; they, as top officials and administrators tasked with major obligations and responsibilities, must and need to treat each other as members of one family.
The relationship they develop shouldn’t be considered as a political crime because it metamorphosed in the name public service, not because they hate someone who has just taken over the helm.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)