August 16, 2009
Noong nakaraang dalawang linggo nagpasa ng isang Resolution ang Sanggunian Panlungsod ng Naga City na pinupuna ang Department of Foreign Affairs Region 5 Field Office (DFA R5), sa pamumuno ni Director Jose Jacob, dahil sa desisyon nito na hintuin na ang “mobile passporting” sa Naga City. Kasi hindi raw akma sa katayuan ng kanyang mga kawani ang klase ng akomodasyon na ibinibigay namin. Malungkot, dahil una sa lahat, tinutulungan na nga namin na gampanan ng DFA ang kanyang tungkulin at trabaho na mapadali ang pagkuha ng mga pasaporte lalo na ng mga ordinaryo mamamayan. Malungkot, dahil dapat nga magpasalamat pa sila dahil lahat ng gastos, transportasyon, pagkain at akomodasyon ay sagot ng pamahalaang local ng Naga. Wala pang kawanihan ng gobyerno na ganito ang hinihingi para lang gawin niya ang kanya namang talagang trabaho. Ang kanilang reklamo ay tinitira daw sila sa Naga City Hostel. Hindi ”5-star” ang hostel. Subali’t lahat ng kuwarto nito ay air-conditioned at may sariling banyo. Malinis at maayos naman ang mga kuwarto at maaliwalas ang lugar. (Dito pala tumitira ang mga kandidata sa Ms Bicolandia Pageant, mga kawani ng national government agencies na may gagawin sa Naga, mga bisita sa Penafrancia Fiesta, atbp.) Hindi pa ito sapat, sabi ng DFA-R5. Mukhang ang mga kawani ng DFA-R5 ay iba sa ating lahat. Sila ay “class”!
Kaya ng umalingawngaw ang balita tungkol sa P1Milyon hapunan ng ating Pangulo at ang kanyang mga kasama sa Amerika (at bago nito ay isa pang hapunan na P 0.75 Milyon) agad na naisip ko ang mga kawani ng DFA-R5. Ito na nga ba ang kalakaran sa pamahalaan ngayon? Utusan ang ordinaryong kawani magtipid. Subali’t ang mga may tungkulin at kapangyarihan ay di-sakop sa mga utos na ito. Sa gitna ng kahirapan, may karapatan pa ba tayong maging “class”? Kay naman pala ganito ang mga kawani ng DFA-R5. May tinitingalang gagayahan. Siyanga naman. Kung pwede sila sa Maynila magluho, dapat pwede rin dito. Kaya dahil hindi namin kaya ang akomodasyon na hinihingi ng DFA-R5, wala ng ’mobile passporting’ sa Naga. Kawawa mga mamamayan. Hindi niya kaya ang luho ng mga naninilbihan sa kanya!
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!