From Ma­galo to Ma­galang

Sun.Star Pampanga - - OPINOIOPNINION -

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

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