November 18, 2007
While I was watching Governor Ed Panlilio narrating the details as to how he got the P 500,000 “gift” after a Malacanang meeting, over ANC, our 13 year old daughter, Tricia, asked me what the issue was all about. (She has been lately quite interested with current events — a collateral value of being part of the school debating team.) I shared with her my thoughts on the matter and explained how the Governor’s woes came to be. Tricia, in all her innocence, said “ano ba yan!”.
“Ano ba yan!” I guess this aptly expresses the exasperation that most Filipinos feel upon learning of the saga of Governor Panlilio, the priest turned governor of the province of Pampanga. A good man, with the best of intentions, who just wants to be true to himself (difficult as it may be in the new arena he is in), he is now the subject of partisan fire simply because he told the truth. The “herd mentality” is again at play. While I understand why his fellow governors cannot stand up for him even if they know the truth, I can not imagine the League of Provinces (the association of governors) coming out with a one page newspaper ad that discredits Governor Panlilio. (They could not even get their act together. One governor was asking for his share of the gravy, ridiculing the crap that the money came from their own league. This is no different from one Congressman claiming that money came from party funds, while other party members disclaim knowledge of it. ) Money changed hands. At least two governors admitted they received it. An ABS-CBN footage showed elected officials holding bags, like that one of Governor Ed, before boarding their cars. If there is really nothing wrong with it, people who have been responsible for the dole-outs should just explain and be forthright with the facts. Like in the past, the problem now are the attempts to cover it up. In the process of doing so, Governor Ed is now being portrayed as the goat. How sad it is when the leaders we look up to can not be relied upon to speak and uphold the truth because of partisan allegiances. The “gift” has brought out the best and the worst in many of them.
I doubt if the truth can be publicly ferreted out at this time. Those who can attest to it would rather not speak out. Those who want to muddle it are all over the airlanes and the pages of the newspaper. I am sure our people are more perceptive than they are presumed to be. They know who to believe. They know who is taking them for a ride. Unfortunately, they would rather watch from the sidelines and bottle up their indignation.
Something is wrong when we freely allow good men to be persecuted. (Governor Panlilio is now a respondent in a case filed a group of lawyers for admitting he received the “gift”.) But it is worse when people are aghast but are silent. It is too early to say whether Governor Panlilio will succeed in his quixotic journey — delivering the outcomes to fulfill his mandate as local chief executive and defining a new way of conducting oneself while in office. But in a lot of ways, how he will fare depends on how we, who believe in him, can muster the courage to stand up for him. As they say, for evil to triumph it only takes good men to do nothing. We may be as helpless and as powerless as the ordinary man in the street. But all the more, this is the reason why we should stand up for him. He is the only one standing up for us!