A COUP – reported the perceptive Ding Cervantes in our front page yesterday – was launched last Tuesday against Gov. Eddie T. Panlilio. The coup pals no less than the civil society groups that moved mountains and flattened hills to make him win.
“These are former supporters of Among Ed who are no longer happy,” Rene Romero, chairman of the Advocacy for the Development of Central Luzon and president of the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry, introduced to the sangguniang panlalawigan the members of the civil society, himself included, that played a big role in Panlilio’s victory in the gubernatorial race.
Roll the drums now: Averell Laquindanum, campaign manager; Teresita Guanzon, finance committee chair with son Patrick Guanzon; Myrna Bituin, core leader of the Betis Group; spouses Rudy and Janet Mallari of the finance committee; campaign coordinator Ricardo Miranda of the Couples for Christ; the Rev. Arthur Tuazon, vanguard of the campaign for moral regeneration; NGO poster-person Nina Saplala; Dennis M. Dizon of Kapampangan Marangal Inc.; businessman Bong Mah of Kapampangan Coalition, Inc.; Liza Velez, niece of the resigned putative provincial legal officer; ex-seminarian Fil Rodriguez, Balas supervisor; former Bulacan Congressman Willie Villarama, also of Kapampangan Coalition, Inc.; and Agnes Romero, wife of Rene who was also with the finance committee.
No, the civil society groups did not come to the SP to embrace and sleep with the foresworn enemy of their revered idol.
“We come to you today in the name of peace and goodwill.” So their letter opened.
Baggaged as they were with the side – only the good side – of their beloved Governor on the myriad issues obtaining at the capitol, their expression of peace and goodwill was – to skeptical me – nothing more than a perfunctory greeting dictated by rudimentary etiquette.
For – my suspicious mind now in overdrive – in their hearts of hearts, if not in the very nucleus of their brains is well ensconced the fundamental diktat of the Governor – the SP is the stumbling block to all the good, the true, and the beautiful aspirations their Among Ed holds for Pampanga.
Okay, I concede that they could have entertained some doubts about their idol’s true motives and the soundness of his methods, having seen his feet of clay in the unraveling Balas story at the capitol grounds.
Still, as they have long been inhered and inured in the goodness, if not the holiness, of their Among, it would not be sheer cynicism to deem that their coming to the SP was a dare for Vice Gov. Yeng Guiao and his gang to prove their growing suspicions about their Among wrong.
“We eagerly await your side.” So they told the SP. Perhaps, hoping against hope that Yeng would choke on his very words and show all and sundry that indeed their Among was right in defining the SP as Stumbling Pack.
In character, Yeng methodically incised all issues the civil society members raised.
On the declaration of Arnedo Park as “freedom park”: “Right off the bat, we will prepare a resolution, and barring legal obstructions, may come out with it this week.”
The very reason given by their Among for his order to the police to disperse the protesting Balas boys was that Arnedo was no “freedom park.” On that score alone, it was plain to see in whose heart among the men at the capitol Panlilio’s oft-spat word “konsiyensya” was truly reposited.
On the status of the proposed budget for Balas and other pending supplemental budgets for approval: “We cannot just approve the release of funds without justifi-cation… We were not against approving the amount asked by the Governor, but no one could justify the need for such a big amount (P45 million for 160 Balas personnel) amid the downward trend in the quarry collections.” Of course, the SP gave half of the Balas budget, contrary to the pronouncements of the Governor. Documents and rational arguments gave the lie to Panlilio’s lay of the blame on the SP.
On the reinstatement of the dismissed Balas boys: “They were hired by the Office of the Governor without even the courtesy of informing us. They were fired by the Office of the Governor, again without our knowledge.” Clearly shown there where the problem lies. And it is not in Dabu, bobo.
What could have been the light that sparked some sort of conversion on the civil society groups was the SP’s open invitation for them to craft what they think would be best for the quarry industry, from a wage scheme for the workers to the automation of the operations, and present these to the SP for adoption. Thereby, an alliance between the civil society groups and the SP was formed to, in the words of Laquindanum, “pursue possible areas of cooperation… in the matter of good gover-nance.”
“We respect your mandate from the people of Pampanga. We recognize the significant role you play in making good government more than a campaign pitch.” So said Laquindanum, not without some tinges of ruing over unfulfilled campaign promises by you-know-who.
So have the civil society groups at last seen the lie behind the halo they wrapped around Panlilio?
I will only believe so when Laquindanum, Bituin, Guanzon, Saplala, Mah, the Mallaris, et al start showing as much enthusiasm in ousting Panlilio as they did in electing him. Like, for instance, taking a lead role in the Recall Panlilio movement. A real coup, not a symbolic one, this time.
Then, and only then, can I truly behold them under the light of the words of that giant of an intellectual among the American Presidents, James Madison: “They have not suffered a blind veneration to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense.”