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Saint seal or fig leaf


By their seal, you shall know them.

And the city government of San Fernando not only has one, not two, but three of them.

It’s up there in the rarefied atmosphere of hall of fame as  virtual saint in good governance. There are only a few of them in that blue chip category in local governance in the Philippines.

So, how dare a newbie in political manchinations wave a charge of financial impropriety — corruption, in plain language — to a trinitarian model in good governance that is tantamount to mouthing a political blasphemy?

No, siree. It  can’t possibly what you say it is.

The new talk of the town — sorry, new lip– is not just a gung-ho political adventurist with a moist eye cast on 2022. That’s too long or too short in politics. He makes it seems he  has the goods, though No less than the top brass from the Department of the Interior and Local Government were in  tow when the case was filed in the Ombudsman. Actually, there’s a better word than “Interior”: ulterior.

That’s incredible for a man on the deck  whose legendary integrity is equivalent to Ceasar’s wife who must be above suspicion, Besides,and this is no joking matter, he does his business where heroes dwell — the Heroes’ Hall. Clearly, the charge is meant to retrograde the man, whose household sobriquet is historically  resonant, if  not eponymous,  to the hall of shame.  He may not be a hero, but sainthood is within sight, barring another fortuitous event that may spoil it.

Shame on you, therefore, and whatever that means in Chinese.

But wait a minute, someone, somebody bigger than Melchor Caluag, Barangay Dolores chairman, must have told him ‘ break a leg’. Not literally, of course, And the obliging agent grinned at his chances.  Who knows really, the saint seal c ould be a fig leaf, after all. In politics, where every player, fair or foul, is defined as non-pure, those near the cookie jar can be vulnerable. In short, temptable. The devil had tried it once in the wilderness but failed, remember.

Back in the day, a city councilor denounced what appeared to him as excessive purchase of construction and hardware materials by the LGU. He was so shocked by what he discovered that he innocently inquired if the city government then was in construction business.

Of course, it was’t innocent at all. He was an accountant by profession and a whistle-blower by aspiration.  He knew what bean-counting meant and so much beans was  apparently going out from the treasury, Besides, local election was afoot and at least two candidates wanted to have their best foot forward.

The, whistle-blowing died down, suddenly, ala the proverbial ningas-kugon. Rumor then had it that a famous businessman  talked him out of it for fear that the naive of  a guy could die of asphyxiation over his aspiration? Wasn’t a candidate’s effigy hanged publicly a llittle later? The morning after the polls, a wag came up with the conclusion that if all the water pumps given out to some lucky recipents during the campaign were used, the local water district would have long gone out of business. It’s not been confirmed if that’s the reason it was sold to another water company and a number of people whistled all the way to the bank.

The wife  behind  the hubby named  after one of the fabled  three kings had seethed  at  something the public already now knows. EDSA, the three-tiered city mayor, had  promised (a cheap or cheapened verb in politics) to give her the chairmanship of the Association of Barangay Captains on a silver platter. As it turned out, there was no silver platter, more like a plastic plate –disposable, in other words. The woman discovered, in the nick of time, that she was dealing with the distant cousin of a biblical villain. Using both means and meanness, she won the coveted prize by pulling her bootstraps. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

And victory begets bragging right, and bragging right a possible  trip to the moon on Icarus’ wings. It’s history now: Caluag’s wife caroomed into the ocean of defeat, even with two veteran political prize fighters, strange bedfellows, shadowboxing  at her side. Moral of the story:  a boxer should only have one second at his corner, preferably male, not another female, honorary or otherwise.  Or it’s a sure knockout — for him.

Accusing EDSA of overpricing goods  intended for pandemic victims and/or to be used in controlling the spread of the bug is very serious. It’s not only criminal, it’s ungodly, a sullied label for someone like the accused who thinks he’s far from being one. Not the bug or burglar, for sure.  Flawed, maybe, especially in the presence of  the species that starts with the letter G.  He can be a putty  like the famous Sto. Tomas clay in a lovely hand, a reliable source say.

Of course, there’s another indication  that EDSA can’t be guilty as accused. No less than President Duterte has said in light of Duque’s plight, that rich people don’t steal. EDSA is rich even by the minimum standard of affluence. He is said to own a number of vast real estates.

Once upon a time, a national tabloid screamed with a banner headline that said “Millionaires don’t steal”.

There you have it. EDSA cannot have possibly stolen a single cent from the local treasury because official awards have confirmed his political sainthood ad nauseam. He is also rich, very rich, by any decent standard. It maybe easier for a camel to pass through a needle hole than for a rich  man, politician or liar, sometimes one and the same person, to enter heaven, but the Ombudsman’s needle has a much bigger hole  through which a camel and its mate can pass, no sweat.

But Caluag, like the earlier whistle-blower who quit, are numbers people. It’s exact science, and not a  matter of opinion or semantics.            

So, hold your breath: the  saint seal sticks or the fig leaf drops off. You can bet on it.


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