Undermining Institutions

January 28, 2008

Two Saturdays ago, I had to read to my father and explain to him a petition that we had to sign to appeal the ruling of Malacanan on the reconstitution of our “citizenship case”. He is turning 85 years old this July and he now has difficulty hearing. (My father, who was stricken with retinitis pigmentosa, has been blind since I was four years old, 46 years ago. How he has raised us and be what we are now, despite his disability is another story altogether.) The case was filed sometime in 1992 when I parted ways with the Villafuertes and was dismissed by the Bureau of Immigration (BID)sometime in 1995. It was revived when I decided to run again in 2001, with the BID ordering its reconstitution because according to the complainant the records of the case were lost. To make the long story short, we appealed the new BID ruling and the Department of Justice (DOJ) reversed it. Malacanan reversed the DOJ ruling just recently when it was brought to them on appeal. Hence, our petition to the Court of Appeals. While I have accepted this as part of the consequences for being on the other side of the political fence, it pains me to see my father go through all these harrassments. My citizenship case has gone through four Presidents. Sadly, decisions on the matter depended on how close were our political opponents to the powers that be.

Almost at the same time, I received another complaint filed with the Comelec to remove me as City Mayor because of my citizenship. The timing is suspect. Commissioners Borra and Tuason, signatories of the Comelec en banc resolution affirming my Filipino citizenship and qualification to be  elected, are retiring next month. Commissioners Ferrer and Brawner, who formed part of the division which disqualified me last year, will still be around. (We moved that Commissioners Ferrer and Brawner inhibit themselves from my case. Commissioner Brawner did. Commissioner Ferrer did not. We obtained and presented a PAGC certification that Commissioner Ferrer, prior to his appointment to the Comelec, was lawyering for the Villafuertes.) The way things are now, its anything goes. I can not imagine how one Comelec division can reverse a Comelec en banc decision. But in my case, it happened. Although, later on, they decided to throw out the case because of a technicality. And maybe because of the public outcry generated by the unjust ruling. The fate of my citizenship case lies again on who will be appointed as replacements of the retiring Commissioners.

There seems to be a hidden hand in all of these. A case was filed with the Comelec six months after I already have taken office and a month before some Commissioners are retiring. The haste by which the DOJ ruling was reversed by Malacanang to pave the way for another deportation case makes me wonder all the more. The cards seem to be falling into place for another kill. While I am quite concerned as to how all of these will turn out, I believe my case pales in importance if we look at the bigger picture. The local allies of the administration, while they may have successfully harassed their opponents, have contributed to the erosion of the people’s trust and confidence on the national leadership and our institutions. I am sure mine is not an isolated case.

The recent surveys, whether, it is Pulse Asia or SWS, shows that the credibility of the government is close to its lowest ebb. People seem to have lost their trust on government institutions. Its stewards have failed us. Partisanship has been the call in most cases. The bureaucracy has been overly politicized. Retiring CSC Chairman Karina David, in fact, complained that that it has worsened during her watch. The light at the end of the tunnel might be “two and one half light years away still”. Let us just hope they do not amend the charter!


Who is in charge?

January 8, 2008

Sometime last week of December PO1 Jay Vargas of the Naga City Police Office was ordered to be transferred to the Masbate Provincial Police Office. A son of a former police officer, his mother sought an audience with OIC RD PSSupt. Balligui Tira to clarify why PO1 Vargas was being moved. His mother came to see me and then told me what transpired. According to her, PO1 Vargas was being transferred at the behest of a certain Allan San Juan, the alleged henchman of Bong Villafuerte in the Naga City. PO1 Vargas was being moved because his brother, Rodel Vargas together with some elements of the Naga City Public Safety Office, reportedly apprehended a certain Mr. Renato Gallano sometime November 2007 and was caught in possession of jueteng paraphernalia. Because Rodel Vargas, a city government employee, was beyond the reach of the PNP Regional Command, they instead punished his brother, Jay, a police officer who was not even involved in the case. Said Mr. San Juan has been, rightly or wrongly,  tagged by local police authorities as the jueteng overseer in Camarines Sur. He seems to be too powerful that some police officers address him as “sir“. It was not surprising therefore that when said Mr. San Juan ran for Barangay Captain last November, elements of the PNP Regional Mobile Group were sent to his barangay to reinforce his bid. Every sitio was teeming with cops who, when interviewed by the reporters of DWNX, unfortunately did not know why there were there in the first place. Mr. San Juan miserably lost, to the consternation and embarrassment of his patrons. To continue, Mrs. Vargas told me that PSSupt. Tira, in her presence, called Bong and requested clearance that the order be held in abeyance. Mrs. Vargas and PSSupt. Tira belong to the same religious congregation. But Bong apparently refused. So P01 Vargas will still be transferred out of Naga City. I have no reason to doubt the account of Mrs. Vargas. She seems to me to be forthright. For all the bravura and toughness of OIC RD PSSupt. Tira, sadly, he himself does not have courage to stand for his brother in Christ. Nor does he have the balls to protect his fellowmen in uniform, even if they are being treated unfairly. No wonder, some policemen at the Naga City Police Station are saying that politicians are treating the police organization like dirt. Ironically, their superiors are acting as willing tools.

Before Christmas day last year, PNP-DPRM Police Director Edgardo Acuna called to inform me that a certain PSSupt Edwin Jose Nemenzo is going to takeover as OIC Chief of Police of Naga City. After several months delay and after the city has long suffered the incompetence of the incumbent OIC PSupt. Amor Macoy,  they finally designated a new OIC Chief of Police. Police Director Acuna informed me that PSSupt Nemenzo was to assume office before the New Year. Last January 5, 2008, I texted Police Director Acuna to find out why the new OIC Chief of Police, who has already reported, has not taken over yet. To my surprise, he responded that they have written HEGMA (the President) regarding the matter. Something must be very special with Naga City that it requires presidential clearance to install an OIC Chief of Police.

Clearly, there is a different chain of command as far as management of the Naga City Police Office is concerned. I would not have bothered to take notice. But unfortunately, this unnecessary interference and harassment of police elements have taken its toll on the peace and order situation in the city. People have lost their trust in the men in uniform. They have lost respect for the institution. (This should come as as no surprise. The PNP has allowed itself to be used and abused.) There seems to be a disconnect between what is being dished out in Camp Crame and the Bicol Regional Police Office. Maybe it is high time to ask the PNP Chief, who really is in charge?