Mice of men

    WHEN THE cat is away…

    No rodents but men – the Honorable kind at that – Angeles City’s aldermen and hizzoner’s staff did not play the mice when Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan was in far-off Rome for over a week, advising the GRP panel in the third round of peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF.

    Mousy, so they were not. But manly, they fell short of too. The council and caretakers practically suspended in a state of stasis, miserably failing to man up in the face of the grim crisis that befell the Korean community – the abduction and murder of Jee Ick-Joo, that consequently put to light the abuses the local police and other agents of the law, as well as outright outlaws, inflicted upon the city’s largest group of expats, and presumably principal contributor to its coffers.

    “Where is the mayor?” rightly cried just about every Mr. Kim, Mr. Park, and Ms. Lee, seeking solace in their hour of collective grief, pining for the reassurance of the adoptive father that, this heinous crime notwithstanding, security and safety still obtained for them in their foster city.

    Busy as he was with his patriotic duties, Pamintuan could have – at the least – sent his consoling words, his reassuring statement, soon as the Jee case broke out. Given the communications technology at his disposal, with quick dispatch too, even while forking his lasagna and savoring his vino at his favorite trattoria.

    Pamintuan, sadly, did not.

    It took a full week after media erupted in a feeding frenzy on the kidnapping in Angeles City and the killing inside Camp Crame for Pamitnuan to declare: “I am dismayed and saddened by the alleged involvement of policemen in crimes against our friends from Korea who visit and have taken residence in our city.”

    Still playing the precise, if careful, lawyer there, mindful of the presumed innocence of the suspects, rather than acting the indignant chief executive denouncing the crime that shocked his people and shamed his city.

    And going Johnny-come-lately: “I will meet with the leaders of the large Korean community in this city immediately after arriving from abroad in order to assure the safety of expats and foreign visitors in Angeles following involvement of policemen in crimes against Korean nationals.”

    By immediately he meant reporting first to Malacanang where he hastened right after Monday’s flag-raising ceremony at city hall. And finally meeting with the Koreans on Tuesday, at the instance of PRO-3 head Chief Supt. Aaron Aquino. All’s well…

    Way too late the hero too in Pamintuan saying “I will seek the relief of all police officers manning Station 5.” The chief of the station and six others implicated in the extortion case already relieved for over a week. Ay, yay, yay.

    And right before Pamintuan boarded his flight for home, the chief of police whom he routinely showered with praises was unceremoniously sacked on account of “command responsibility.” Yay, ya-ya-yay, yay.

    Come to think of it another way, am I not merely being unfairly impatient, or overtly and overly harsh with Pamintuan?

    Blame that on my highest respect for the man. Of whom we esteem highest, we expect the most. Of the greatest, the mere passable is totally unacceptable. For chrissake, Pamintuan is certified World City Mayor awardee.


    As he was in Rome, it was Vice Mayor Bryan Matthew Nepomuceno that assumed the mayorship, per operation of law, di ba? Or did he?

    Anyways, to be fair now, where was acting mayor Nepomuceno when Angeles was taking its Warholian 15 minutes of notoriety, internationally, as crime city?

    He did not act the mayor any in addressing the fears of the Korean community. Aye, Nepomuceno did not act at all.

    As a matter of public record, in media that is, not a single word was read about him, not a single squeak was heard from him pertaining to Jee’s kidnapping and killing, to the shakedown of the Korean golfers, to the terror that gripped Koreatown, as we put it in this paper’s banner headline last week.

    The famously articulate Nepomuceno suddenly losing his voice over the crisis that impacted the city spoke volumes of his leadership, nay, screamed deafeningly of his utter lack of it.

    Scion of a political clan, a lawyer of substance, and aesthetically-unchallenged presentability – besides being already vice mayor to an endterming mayor – Nepomuceno is already being billed as “the next mayor of Angeles City.”

    That bright political promise that is Nepomuceno now may have been dulled, if not dashed, by his assumption of the silence of the dumb.

    I can’t help but be reminded here anew of my seminary Latin readings, of Horace particularly: Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Translated: The mountains are in labor, a ridiculous mouse is born. Interpreted, freely: The promise of greatness fulfilled in mediocrity; the highest of expectations birthing absurdity.

    As well, Olde English now, from Robert Burns:

    “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aftagley. An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, For promis’d joy!

    What more in Angeles City these days, with mice for men.

    Yes, it could only be prescience – the now dearly lamented Hannah Bauzon bannering the maiden issue of her Central Luzon Times in the mid-1980’s thus: Rats (Daga) invade city hall.


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