POSTSCRIPT / December 13, 2005 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Cabalens' quarrel tests political mettle of GMA

ANGELES CITY — President Gloria Arroyo will have her hands full refereeing an internecine conflict in her political mass base in Pampanga come 2007.

That is, of course, if there be local elections then. This early, once solid alliances have been sundered by ambitions and selfish interests.

In the capital city of San Fernando, Mayor Oscar Rodriguez, among GMA’s handpicked ConCom members, is being undermined by supporters of his predecessor at City Hall and successor in Congress — Rep. Reynaldo B. Aquino, a close partner in the 1995, 1996, 2001 and 2004 elections.

The fallout between the two resulted from a city emptied of its coffers that Rodriguez so discovered and publicly proclaimed upon his assumption of office in 2004.

Aquino was likewise taken to task — publicly again — for allegedly filling up all vacancies at City Hall to the utter dismay of Rodriguez who could not deliver on his promised employment to his supporters.

Now, just about everything that Rodriguez achieves — such as winning fourth place in the World City Mayor Search for 2005, ahead of the mayors of San Francisco (California) and Atlanta (Georgia), among other cities — is discredited by Aquino supporters.

Rodriguez, they claimed, rode on the achievements of Aquino as city mayor and passed these off as his own. Of course, the former’s supporters would not just take this sitting down. They came out with their own barrage against Aquino in a litany of accusations that would easily merit cases in the Ombudsman if given the slightest legal consideration.

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LAPID SWITCH: At the Capitol, the loudest whisper is a Lito Lapid comeback as governor.

The tumbling acrobat’s fumbling display of (un)intelligence at the Senate is not helping his image any — supporters claim — so he has to regain his masa appeal fast and be their swashbuckling bida again.

It does not take as much brains to act gubernatorial as to play senatorial.

So with Lapid back, his son, current governor Mark, is bruited to run for the second district of Pampanga currently held by presidential son Mikey Macapagal Arroyo.

No, Mikey will not fight with the younger Lapid. He will run against the elder one for governor, so some of his supporters avow. The scandals that hounded GMA and her family have made Mikey’s retreat from the national scene an imperative for his and his mother’s survival. So, it is claimed.

Mikey teamed up with Vice Governor Yeng Guiao is seen as a formidable tandem that could wrest the local leadership from the Lapids.

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BONG’S GAMBIT: Looming on the political horizon too in the second district is Lubao Mayor Dennis Pineda of the powerful Pineda clan — read Bong Pineda — not only in their and GMA’s hometown but in the whole of Pampanga.

The Pinedas have shifted their support from their long-time attorney, Rep. Zeny Ducut, to the young Lapid in 2004 and handed him a runaway victory.

In the fourth district, Rep Anna York Bondoc, who accompanied GMA in her last US trip after voting down the impeachment complaint, is facing opposition from GMA rabid supporter Tirso Lacanilao, third termer mayor of Apalit town.

Lacanilao’s canine devotion to the President and her son Mikey will be put to a test if he would — as he has publicly stated — fight Bondoc “whatever it will cost.”

If the swirl of the political merry-go-round in Pampanga is already at a dizzying pace this early, just wait till after the holidays when, observers say, it would be merrier and messier.

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POLICE PRIORITIES: There appears to be misdirected priorities in the Philippine National Police’s war against crime. The situation in Angeles City is a case in point.

There is this one-strike policy when it comes to jueteng. That means a city director or a town’s chief of police gets axed for just one successful raid on a local jueteng joint.

But there is none for other crimes, such as robbery, carnapping, video karera games, cybersex, murder and homicide — all common occurrences in the city once dubbed as the “Sodom of the Pacific.”

I remember sometime in October the members of the local media issued a persona non grata resolution against Angeles City Director Sr. Supt. Policarpio Segubre and demanded his ouster. The local boys even mounted a rally at City Hall to press their case.

Mayor Carmelo “Tarzan” Lazatin simply dismissed media’s allegation with his testimonial to Segubre as the “best chief of police the city ever had.” Now, I think Tarzan knows something Jane does not know.

Since then, the incidence of major crimes, including political killings, has increased. Local business groups as well as militants have come to ridicule the mayor’s lavish words about his police chief as “Tarzan’s best is the city’s worst.”

What really gives here, Mister Mayor?

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 13, 2005)

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