Hand job

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    PONTIUS PILATE reborn in Oscar S. Rodriguez, three-term mayor of the City of San Fernando and top honcho of the ruling Liberal Party in his domain, if not in the whole of Pampanga.

    “Oca washes hands of Edsa-Ato tandem” screamed our front page story of June 27, on the mayor’s denial of any hand in the reported choice of Councilor Renato “Ato” Agustin as running mate of Vice Mayor Edwin Santiago in 2013.

    Okay, positively put, and straight from Rodriguez: “Kung totoo man iyon, prerogative ni Edsa iyon as mayoralty candidate (If that is true, (the choice) is Santiago’s prerogative)…

    Di ako nakialam sa pagpili. Kung nakapili na nga ng vice mayor. (I didn’t have any hand in the choice, if indeed a choice has been made).” 

    Instead of tying Santiago’s hands by virtue of his being party chief, Rodriguez gave him free rein.

    No Pilate-like ablution there but absolute absolution from any wrongdoing, aye, from even a minor shortcoming, on the part of Rodriguez.

    The mayor’s statements even highlighted – in the lexicon of the techno times, put into HD – his long-cultured persona as liberal respecter, indeed, as the very paladin of free choice, which germinated in his student activist days, matured in his human-rights lawyering years, and has not stopped blooming since.

    So Punto! got the Edsa-Ato story out of context and mangled its metaphors?

    Not so fast now for mea culpa and splash in the next front page some apologetic errata.

    From the perspective of political party principles and praxis, Rodriguez is not quite right, if not altogether wrong, in giving – even in only  allowing – Santiago the prerogative to choose Agustin, or anyone else for that matter, as his running-mate.

    Choice is not a prerogative, not even a privilege, of the standard bearer.

    Choice is the right, the responsibility, even the duty, of the party in assembly. That is how party politics works.

    For one so vocal about his adherence to party principles, it is shocking how Rodriguez easily missed, or how he most cavalierly dismissed this.

    And then, Agustin is not even deemed as through-thick-and-thin party man, having won his council seat either in opposition to the Rodriguez-Santiago line-up or as independent candidate.

    Again, that comprises violation of party principles of rewarding loyalty to, and upholding the equity of the party member. So, is there no true-blue Oca-Edsa loyalist that can fill the bill of vice mayor for 2013?      

    Alas, why do I keep harping on principles here? It was not so long ago – for me to forget – that I wrote of principled politics as an oxymoron, aye, a contradiction in terms mutually exclusive and diametrically opposed.

    For in politics, “no one acts on principles or reasons from them.”

    To further appropriate the words of the French writer Leroy Beaullieu in the 1890s yet, politicians are “…the vilest and the narrowest of sycophants and courtiers that humanity has ever known; their sole end basely to flatter and develop all popular prejudices, which, for the rest, they but vaguely share, never having consecrated one minute of their lives to reflection and observation.”

    That, premised on the generalization arising from the fixity of our intellectual habits that deems the recurring characteristic trait of a segment of one species as representative of that species, if not of the whole genus. In the case at issue, the  political animal.

    So what’s the difference between a Filipino politician and dalag? One is a voracious filth-feeding bottom dweller. The other is a fish. Some joke!

    Exigency and expediency, utility and interests – self-serving, vested interests – are the fundamental matters – I could not dare write principles here and desecrate the word – whence politics breeds. No joke!

    So it is most manifest anew with the emergence of the Edsa-Ato tandem.

    As shocked, but not necessarily awed, “as the next person in the City of San Fernando” was vice-mayor in-waiting Councilor Jimmy Lazatin.

    “All my three terms in office, I have been a team player supporting the Oca-Edsa team. To this day, that’s about eight years now.

    We have fought together in election after election side by side, with our principles intact, winning over and over as a team,” lamented Lazatin, long publicly hailed by Rodriguez himself as “next vice mayor.”

    How could they junk him now like they do residual garbage to their Lara dumpsite?

    “While I can speculate all I want about the politics that came to play to arrive at this tandem, I feel that the best way for anyone to get real answers is from the original Oca-Edsa tandem.

    They are in the best position to answer the questions.” Lazatin makes one romanticist lost in contemporary times.

    His Old World value of loyalty and sense of integrity misappreciating, misapprehending, plainly missing the realities of politics, at its most exigent, at its most expedient.

    Subscribing to higher – not necessarily nobler, indeed, may even be ignoble – interests, the Edsa-Ato tandem subsumed, nay, subjugated all the express – not necessarily applied – party principles of loyalty, integrity, honesty, and fair play.

    To win, at any cost. Whatever it takes. To the point of shaking hands with the devil himself.      

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