From Magalo to Magalang
It seemed to be just another regular day for me and my ‘Inside Pampanga’team as we geared up to shoot in an exciting location to feature the beauty of my province. On that sunny day, our next destination was Magalang. When the crew cab arrived to meet me halfway, I noticed that the windows were rolled down. Ken, our pilot, was scratching his head when he told me that the A/C broke down. Anticipating the traffic and the heat, I thought I was going to experience one hell of an afternoon.
Our first stop was at the municipal hall of Magalang. Immediately, I noticed a lot of physical improvements in the town hall since I used to cover a lot at the place during my time with ABS-CBN Pampanga. The young staff of Magalang’s tourism office welcomed us and informed us that my interview with Mayor Malou Lacson will take place later in the afternoon. So, we went on to one of the sweetest places to visit in this town, the pastillas factory of Carreon family.
At the store, we were accommodated by the mother of Francis Carreon, Mrs. Elisa Rivera Carreon. Their story was not only popular locally but also well-known even abroad. In fact, the family had already been featured and interviewed on various national TV programs. Mrs. Carreon took us inside the candy factory which is not as big as Willy Wonka’s. The holiday season has just ended but the facility continues to be busy. The mom of the owner also shared one of the many secrets of their mouth-watering pastillas. She said that they only use pure carabao’s milk.
After our tasty visit at Carreon’s, I finally got to interview the first woman mayor of this town, Maria Lourdes Paras Lacson. She’s a co-Familian (a graduate from Holy Family Academy) and a seasoned legislator before becoming the head of Magalang LGU. Various interesting personalities have led this town in the past… from friars, gobernadorcillos, capitan municipal, presidente local, presidente municipal, and mayor s.
All these led erstwhile liberal camp stalwart turned rogue but still aligned with the yellow camp Walden Bello to turn the tables against the administration and quip that #lenileaks is a red herring orchestrated by the administration to consolidate support for its administration. By depicting government as constantly under siege from the yellow camp just a breath away from power, the Duterte administration gains loyalty and support from its electorate and base thwarting the challenges brought about by its diminishing legitimacy.
Bello is alluding to an insecure government currently in power. Or from another frame of reference, a government who is unaware of its strength that is why it still resorts to old ways of wielding and practicing political power. Thus, the relentless attack on an inconsequential yellow political opposition.
To serve its purposes, the Duterte admin may have been artificially huffing and propping up what may actually be a scarecrow stick opponent to make them appear formidable before the public. It’s an old political game actually that should have no space in a sincere government seeking change.
The resort to old tactics of maintaining political control over other political branches of government particularly congress, is proof of this unfortunate inclination. Pork or the provision of public funds for a congressman’s pet project in his or her district has been rendered unconstitutional and patently illegal by the Supreme Court.
And yet, the Duterte administration has allocated billions of the people’s money in the 2017 budget appropriations through a creative skirting of the process as defined in the jurisprudence. The old ways are maintained – loyal congressmen are awarded millions of pesos in largesse, a significant amount of which end up as ghost or substandard projects.
Duterte ran and won in a platform of change. By the looks of it, what we will be seeing is more of the usual even with a maverick president at the helm. It is turning out that, for now, the deep-seated maladies afflicting our political institutions are far more enduring and powerful than our collective aspirations for genuine political change.
— By Arnold P. Alamon