By ROGER M. BALANZA
Two issues back, your favorite paper carried the same editorial cartoon above. Today, recycling is a buzz word that plays—no matter how minor—a role in the overall effort to save the earth from environmental pollution. We recycled the above cartoon because the characters in the cartoons are political polluters. In our own small way, we want to save Davao City from the political dirt they continue to inflict on the Dabawenyos.
At this point in time, when politics should not be a matter of public discussion, it would almost be scandalous for people to talk about politicians and the things they have done or the things they have not done.
Unless, one has a reason to do so. Media people normally stay off from political issues—in between elections—as they attempt to play their role as partners in governance.
During elections, media people stand up upon demand of their calling as messengers of good and bad news, for people to know their candidates and help them come up with decisions on who should be their next leader deserving of their trust and confidence.
Along the way, they get labeled as political partisans under pay of some politicians. Along the way, they get praised for telling the truth, in the spirit of free speech in aid of intelligent choice. Along the way, they are charged for libel for telling the truth—or for peddling lies.
Whatever, media people do their job—at the risk of earning praise, being tagged as lapdogs or at worst crucified with a libel rap.
In the last election, this is how we looked at Davao City:
It is Mindanao’s premier city. It is the country’s third biggest earning local government unit. It enjoys political stability. There is a housing boom with the country’s top high-end housing developers coming in to take part in the bonanza. Investors are coming in droves with millions to invest. Tourism is on the upswing. The businessmen are laughing their way to the banks. The poor gets food assistance from the local government. Indigents do not pay hospitalization bills, etcetera, etcetera.
Afraid of criminals? Be at peace and feel safe. Unless you are a criminal, our city is safe for you. Peace and order has earned for the local police numerous national honors.
We believed, the city under the then present leadership was in good hands.
Is there a need for a change in this city that has become the envy of other cities?
The incumbent mayor was Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. His daughter, Vice Mayor Sara Duterte, is running for mayor against then Speaker Prospero Nograles.
Media people are voters too and they want leaders they can trust to continue the directions of the city.
Then Speaker Prospero Nograles was promising changes in the way Mayor Rodrigo Duterte had been running the city for nearly twenty years. He was asking if the Duterte daughter can fill in her father’s shoes. He is raising doubts she can, and was positioning himself as the next mayor.
So we asked: Has he something to add to the peace and order situation? Can he really do better than Sara, then already the vice mayor, as the city’s next top executive?
Leadership is not earned during the campaign period with promises, promises and promises. Leadership means what you had done in the past to deserve the vote.
And so we asked: Does Nograles had a part in the city’s painful march from the troubled 80s of what is today’s premier city, to suggest our city needs change and a new leadership?
And then said: If Nograles cannot answer these questions, then he has no business duping people with his Politics of Change. That was his mantra why our city needed a new leader, him.
As a Dabawenyo and a voter, we saw he had nothing but a plastic-coated and maddened attempt to capture City Hall with nothing to offer but promises.
Educational scholarships? It was not his but a program of the Department of Education. Livelihood projects and food assistance? It was a program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. We said: Don’t be fooled by nationally-funded projects with signboards saying these are initiatives of the Speaker and his son lawyer Karlo Nograles. These are programmed projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways that Dabawenyos deserve and not because of Nograles.
In short, what Nograles claimed then were as products of his politics of performance were projects and programs of the national government he used for propaganda to beef up his image.
We thought we should help Dabawenyos see the light. So we said Nograles is not the leader we need.
This week, we took time off from media work to face the judge hearing the two counts of libel filed against us by the former Speaker for exercising our right as a media person to tell the public about who their candidates were in the last elections.
We have no beef against the former Speaker for exercising his own right to sue against persons he thinks defamed his person. But the point is that we as a media person also have the right to say our piece that he is not what the Dabawenyos want as their leader.
Nograles as city mayor and Benjamin de Guzman as vice mayor?
They have nothing to offer but politics of non-performance. The editorial cartoon above tells it all.
We admit the city needs a sports stadium that Nograles and de Guzman could have built. Nograles’ University of Southern Philippines (USeP) sports center remains a skeleton to this day. De Guzman’s Artica Dome continues to be home to goats.
In this the kind of leaders we need?