Today's Punto
Today's Punto
Endlessly, Boking
By Bong Lacson

Jun 01, 2017

AT LAST, at last, at long last!

Pockets of jubilation spread through Mabalacat City at the news screamed by the banner headline here Wednesday of PHL’s longest staying mayor ordered evicted. Taken further to ecstatic heights with the kicker Comelec en banc decision unanimous.

Making the eviction seeming all-too definitive in the poll body’s 7-0 affirmation of its First Division’s resolution of August 3, 2016 cancelling the certificate of candidacy of the incumbent mayor and ordering the local board of canvassers to “reconvene, annul the proclamation of Marino P. Morales, proclaim the candidate with the next highest votes, and effect the necessary corrections in the Certificate of Canvass and Proclamation.”

Victory! Claimed one sore loser in the last elections, instantly grabbing all credit for “Boking’s downfall,” the half-dozen supporters joining in.

Cautionary, rather than celebratory though, is the air around the man who stands to gain the most – Crisostomo C. Garbo, misnomered as second placer according to the Comelec resolution, given Morales’ disqualifi cation to run ab initio and therefore of no account in the political exercise, no matter the avalanche of votes to his name.

Garbo – along with the greater part of the city constituency – knows Boking only too well, the optimum prime in the mayor ever rising out of the direst of circumstances, out of the worst of crises he periodically gets sunk in.

Boking agonistes. How many times have I made that a title in my columns chronicling the mayor’s innumerable “defeats” whence emerged him ultimately triumphant?

The end of Boking. Can there be a worse ending than his being included in the President’s list of narco-politicians? That, Duterte himself announced in early August last year.

And Boking has since been chosen by the Duterte government – according to an uncontested city government PR, at least – as one of the local government executives sent to Washington D.C. for a study on federalism; awarded for outstanding performance in social services, fiscal management, education, and – surprise, surprise – in the campaign against illegal drugs.

That is getting to the end of the story though. Meanwhile…

The end of Boking. Political pundits readily wrote the mayor off in the 2010 elections when his own daughter Marjorie Morales-Sambo ran most acrimoniously against him, airing all the dirty family linen in public.

Here’s a take from a Zona at that time:

...Mayor Boking’s projection, nay, sincere portrayal of a father pained to near-devastation by a daughter’s betrayal but still forgiving, still loving her, and remaining hopeful, pining for her requited love.

But real, all too real was Mayor Boking’s pain. The Parable of the Prodigal Son, albeit transgendered and transposed in Mabalacat, unraveled here.

And Boking won the elections by the widest margin ever.

The end of Boking. Months leading to the 2004 elections, Marino P. Morales – having served as mayor since 1995, and therefore, beyond the three-term limit – was struck off the official list of candidates for mayor of Mabalacat.

Premature was the celebration of his rivals when barely three weeks before election day, Morales’ name was re-instated in the ballot. And, as expected, all the other candidates were reduced to also-ran again.

The end of Boking. Yes, indeed, the Comelec declared Morales loser to perennial rival Anthony Dee “via protest” in the 2011 polls, albeit the decision issued a month before the next election, enabling Boking to seek and get a TRO preventing the luckless Dee from assuming the mayoralty post even but for a second. This “loss,” along with a sixmonth suspension from office, provided Boking the “legal” ground for his continuance in the mayorship despite the term limits.

The end of Boking. Five days after filing his certificate of candidacy in October 2016, Boking withdrew in favor of his wife, Nina Manipon-Morales, who was nominated by the local Kambilan party.

His solemn declaration: “I’m withdrawing my candidacy for city mayor...I already served my cabalen for the past 21 years with humility and dignity at gusto kong pasalamatan ang mga kababayan ko sa lahat ng suporta.”

That valedictory in October turned salutatory in December, just before the deadline for the filing of COCs, thus: “Uli na ning lugud cu queng canacung indu, ing lugud cu queng canacung pamilya at lugud careng memalen, ing tune igpa ning siyudad Mabalacat, magbalic cu pung pasibayu para magserbisyu quecayu, (For the love of my mother, my family and my constituents, as the real father of Mabalacat City, I have decided to return to serve you anew).”

And Morales, under the Aksyon Demokratiko Party, winning again with 40,147. His closest pursuer Garbo garnering 17,710 votes.

Argued Garbo: “Though he won by a landslide… he cannot override the constitutional requirements,” referencing the three-term limit that prompted him to file a quo warranto case.

The Comelec resolution though was on the petition of Pyra Lucas, fourth placer in the mayoralty contest, seeking the cancellation of Morales’ COC and to disqualify him from running for mayor “since he had already been elected and had served for three consecutive terms for the same position from 2007 to 2013.”

The end of Boking. In five days’ time, gloated the bitterest of his enemies. The legal remedy open to him – to seek a TRO – said to lapse five days from the issuance of the Comelec order, that would be Friday, June 3.

Knowing the man in the mayor though – just like Garbo and the greater people of Mabalacat – I will refrain as yet from singing swan songs for him.

There’s just much too much to this endless ending of Boking.

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