Here’s a movingly expressive, illuminative and telling opinion of Sunstar columnist Ram Mercado of Sunstar Pampanga about the state of political affairs in Pampanga. This author’s reading and observation on Pampanga’s current affairs is indubitably truthful, factual and unimpeachable.
THE Sangguniang Panlalawigan, I understand, has given Governor Panlilio a "failing grade" for the past semester.
I would give the provincial board a "high passing mark" for its own performance--- in obstructionism and "sipsipan".
As a failed student, Amond Ed, at least was honest. He never cheated, much less solicited funding support from political patrons. He got fund support from the Golden Girl (unsolicited) while the detractors got theirs from the Million Dollar Baby (solicited).
In denouncing the governor's weak performance, the SP members led by the vice governor should acknowledge their own failure as the other partner in provincial governance. It's the other horse in the team, but pulling - and being pulled - in the opposite direction.
All right, Panlilio was found wanting in building costly infrastructure projects, the certain sources of commissions and kickbacks.
In former times, such projects earned revenues for the ruling executives. Not a few honorable members of the board got their share of the bounty. This is what is found wanting in the new governor, his failure to bribe, his inability to provide and the sin of improvidence. Thus, the failing grade given the amateur politician.
Well, it was the fault of a few hundred people who did not vote for Mrs. Lilia "Baby" Pineda, or the accidental burning of Mabalacat ballot boxes which contents could have spelled the difference. Otherwise the Capitol is in a perpetual "happy hour."
If Mrs. Pineda were the elected governor, I am certain the same board members today would rate her with the highest marks. Why not, when the lady is known to be a philanthropist and a generous giver?
In the drawing board and about to be implemented, I read, are scores of infra projects that are under transparent and meticulous bidding rules, including the purchase of medical supplies, drugs, and equipment for the district hospitals. Their procurement under a corrupt system means dirty money for any crook.
So far Panlilio has rated poorly in this area, according to the Board some of whose members are professional politicians, used to wheeling and dealing, and well-versed in rigged bidding.
Pampangos should not expect spectacular development and growth in the present set-up. Two horses pulling the wagon on different directions do not make an ideal team. One horse looks skyward, the other to Lubao. The wagon moves, if at all, as it is bogged down in inertia.
Panlilio is loyal to his gospel principle, the other team is loyal to its patrons. He works by values, the other by compromise. It is a fight between two parties: the NP [Nagiisang Pari] vs. the KBL [Kay Baby Lahat].
The nation's chief problem - so in Pampanga - is corruption. Panlilio is guaranteed not to steal public money. That is his best performance. If that's all he can be in three years, we have a great future. Better an upright citizenry in a high moral ground than a corrupt people in endless happy hour.
Panlilio does not play "sipsip" to anyone, not even to the First Lady. Certain SP members rate very high in that game. The mayors, too, who adore the First Baby.
Panlilio's courage is of the moral kind, one man alone against an evil system. The board members find courage in their number.
Tormentors become bolder when they gang up on someone like a harmless priest who is expected not to fight back . He is an easy prey by predators operating as a group.
In other times, if I know many of the board members, most of them would even do "mano" to Among Ed when he was in active ministry.
Pampanga is indeed in bad times as far as governance is concerned. This is what patronage money, from quarrying and illegal gambling or combined, can perpetrate using basically decent, educated, and well-intentioned public servants to its ends, for its purpose.
In the political history of the province, no single family in the past has ever influenced the events of public administration, changed the course of local politics, and molded the free will of voters than the power family which the present provincial board appeared subservient to.
This reality makes a good man like Among Ed a freak in the political circus, a pariah among the Pharisees and a whipping boy of a gang who found fake courage in their number, encouraged and hypnotized by their patron.