OPINION: Politics of convenience, ironies and tragedy: The Bulan town experience
By Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr.
In terms of voting population the town of Bulan tops the second district. The sheer number put its own son and daughter to national prominence, Bonifacio Gillego and Celerina Gotladera. Gillego is one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution later a three term congressman, was appointed by Cory’s government as Sorsogon OIC whose mindset initiated national agenda and Gotladera, a chairperson of the Civil Service Commission.
After them the power base shifted, the likes of the deceased Jose Solis, the De Castro’s and lately, the Ballesteros-Robles sister act, Marivic and Marnellie. This unexpected shift of power is the result of political alliances and breakups, part of political collateral that re-aligned allies and enemies.
Tailing the equations are the waiting prince and princesses, the likes of Guyala’s, the scion of Gillego-Gerona(Crisostomo Gotladera) and Patricia Lim Guran, the vice-mayor ought to act as acting mayor but failed to be because of political drama.
The act of war
Though it is not the war of the roses, yet, it is the war that only the haves will benefit and the have not’s to suffer. This will be the paradigm not of glory and defeat but of vengeance and oblivion.
The administrative case filed by Cris Gotladera against Mayor Marnellie Ballesteros Robles ignited the town that may burn it altogether not in literal means but in dividing further the divisiveness that exist. Neither we could blame councilor Gotladera for he was raised accordingly or put blame solely on MBR knowing the affairs of the town points to sinister minds masterminding a neophyte.
Beyond the doors of politics, this war could have been avoided if only greediness was moderated, that public service is a public trust, that funds are properly disbursed. It could have been avoided for reason that power is temporary not absolute and for knowing that public governance is not a pot of gold.
MBR stand that she has the mandate of the people of Bulan may mean that even a court order, presidential directive will not nudge her to step down and accept her suspension. This position is an act of war.
Bulan politics as in other places is influence by provincial and congressional politics. In a way, national politics for Sorsogon produced a senator son who calls his own shot beneath the open line of alliance.
Congressional power changed dramatically the towns politics of 2013. De Castro aligned with Governor Lee, MBR sheltered with Deogracias Ramos who trounced Guillermo De Castro intent to unseat him in congress. His son was beaten by MBR as town mayor, a fate hard to shallow for between him and his wife Helen, they ruled for eighteen years. For Ramos and Lee it became an overlap of political boundaries. Lee almost tasted his third political defeat to an upstart board member because of the equation.
Robles at that time dances with the De Castro’s political enemies, took pleasure with the Gotladera-Gillego-Gerona clan, politically romances with Renato’Joey’ Guban and the disgruntled populace giving her a good fighting chance. At the sideline is her sister Marivic Ballesteros who knows how to pull the rug from under with her connections making herself now a nominal figure in running the affairs of the municipality.
The political alliance was shortlive among the groups of MBR. As observed, the election of the mayor’s league tiff the ego of the octogenarian Ramos, he was disgusted with the result of the league’s election. Batting for Emilio Ubaldo of Matnog who was upended by Manuel Fortes of Barcelona, who is a staunch Lee strategist, Robles was imputed as wayward in Ramos group of mayors to support Ubaldo.
Slowly, with Senator Chiz as interloper molded the burnt feelings of Lee and Ramos, the front act now clear, the underlings of Ramos in Bulan distanced themselves with the sisters.The here and there of public governance of the town prompted Councilor Cris Gotladera’s administrative case against MBR at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan who slapped ninety days suspension to her. Except for Arze Glipo of the second district, the regular members and that of its ex-officio voted to suspend.
Because of the suspension, the populist Patricia Guran appointment as acting mayor proved that politics take strange bedfellows to survive, the political nemesis of Bulan by political convenience became united, making Guran as their co-equator to put an early end to MBR possible long term influence. Those who before don’t see eye to eye are now hugging the limelight of accommodation. Gotladera after many years tangoed with the De Castro’s, Guban became a welcome guest, who knows who will come to be seen and heard.
The allies became enemies, with the new groupings, MBR faces an open war. She can be ousted if the recall process materialized or she may end up laughing if vindicated. The gravest, numerous graft cases will land on her lap. Yet she seems not to care.
The good congressman persona shunned from the controversy that he hang up his gloves to spar with MBR opponents, giving her a much bigger front to handle.
Knowing the game, MBR sidetracked the issue when Guran was arrested by NBI agents for violation of the medical practice act and the pharmacy law. It was a well orchestrated move to undermine the image of the acting mayor and put into defensive Guran’s political backers, perceived by many as politically motivated.
Rubbing salt to the swollen ego of MBR are the tacked of provincial politics that leans heavily to her opponents.
What is more telling was the open challenge of MBR to Lee, by not stepping down inspite of the memorandum was a statement that she can handle the pressure adrift with her unworded declaration of her independence from Lee’s political behavior in Bulan.
Muddling the ironies is the favorable opinion of DILG undersecretary to MBR that divided a heated community farther, it became the flame for MBR not to step down and office of the president was also dragged because of the appeal made to stay the SP suspension order and the release of an order from the OP staying the suspension, its authenticity is suspected.
It is on record that DILG is not an ex parte of this case nor it observed legal procedures when it served the supposed office of the president order to stay the suspension of MBR, it relied heavily on an email without establishing from the OP executive secretary records department.
The question now why would Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa delegate to Michael Aguinaldo a deputy executive secretary for legal affairs to sign an order that stays the suspension of MBR knowing that a delegated authority from the office of the president could not be re-delegated. Or was it an inter-office understanding of the executive secretary to his subordinate that certain office matters as in the case of the release of the OP staying order suffice that a deputy may do?
Another twist both MBR and Cris Gotladera are members of the Liberal Party.
“When the elephants fight, the ants get hurt” now applies to the town’s public service, an acting mayor, recognized by the provincial government, a suspended defiant and resisting mayor who refuses to step down, a populace needing public service and test of nerves for the supporters of both camps.
In the sidelines are those caught in the web of political drama comparable to soap. A loyalty check for local employees who owes political gratitude, the subordination to whom of the town peace officers, the acceptance of authority of national agencies and financial institutions and the unquantifiable damage to the community are hard to ignore.
What is glaring is the truth of political power, the families of age insist by legal means to end an upstart hold of power making Bulan town a cauldron of boiling anger that will impact its development for political war without the white flag will rage in Bulan beyond the present stand-off.
Then the worse, if the suppose Order from the OP staying the suspension circumvented establish Malacanan protocol in releasing documents then even if authentic the appeal of MBR can be dismiss. It likewise revealed that she is well connected with DILG USEC Tomasito Villarin.
Much worse are the pronounced lies to the people of the town.