By: Alex P. Vidal
“One of the reasons people hate politics is that truth is rarely a politician’s objective. Election and power are.” – Cal Thomas
WE sympathize with Iloilo City Hall regular employee Rosita Camacho and other alleged victims of persecution under the Treñas administration.
We don’t agree that underlings should be zeroed in and severely punished for supporting a rival candidate who has been vanquished in the recent elections.
But we also don’t agree that Camacho or any tormented city hall employees for that matter, should bring the hullabaloo to President Rodrigo R. Duterte, who is facing truckloads of domestic problems.
While it is Camacho and company right to seek the help of any official in the higher-ups, including Mr. Duterte, the act of seeking a presidential interference for a local issue will only do more harm than good to their case.
If Camacho, et al, have referred the matter to the court, or in any quasi-judicial chamber like the Office of the Ombudsman, seeking solace in the executive branch or the Office of the President could be tantamount to a forum shopping.
Or political saber-rattling.
Camacho had earlier sent a letter-complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman in Cebu City accusing Iloilo City Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas and four other City Hall officials – City Administrator Melchor Tan, Assistant Iloilo City Administrator Noel Panaguiton, Assistant Department Head II Josephine Agudo of allegedly conspiring, confederating, and aiding one another in the commission of grave coercion and violations of Section 3 (e) and (a) of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) for grave misconduct, oppression, and/or conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
Camacho, et al, are now asking President Duterte to join the fray.
If Treñas, et al, based on Camacho’s recent appeal to President Duterte through the “Digong 8888 Hotline” TV show hosted by Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo, will be rapped on the knuckles by the President through the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), what will happen if the Office of the Ombudsman exonerates them based on evidence?
Or vice versa.
Malacañang and the DILG might not jump into action haphazardly while the case is being studied and reviewed by the Office of the Ombudsman.
Whether President Duterte will dip his fingers into the row, the Office of the Ombudsman will have to go on with its independent investigation without prejudice to what the President will do.
We doubt, however, if President Duterte, a former city mayor of Davao City himself who is familiar with the local civil service intramural, will prioritize the Iloilo City Hall case on top of the tons of other urgent cases stockpiling in the Office of the President.
President Duterte is aware of local politics.
As a former long-time Davao City mayor, he is familiar with internal wrangling in the city government involving employees caught in the quagmire of warring political parties.
Meanwhile, Panelo reportedly asked Camacho and other affected City Hall employees to write him a letter regarding the brouhaha.
The spokesperson knows his script.
Panelo’s gesture can be akin to an employer telling a job applicant after an interview to “just wait for our call (if we are ready to hire you).”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)