BEHIND THE LINES: The break-up PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 09 March 2015 13:55



San Jose, CA. — Failed intelligence, a complacent internal defense and utterly lack of police presence nearly destroyed a resplendent city brimming with unique history, a glorious past and colorful tradition laced with ravishing women and dashing gentlemen. Since that dreadful September 9, 2013 siege by heavily-armed, well-trained rebels of the Moro National Liberation Front (Nur Misuari faction) that flattened three Muslim-Christian populated barangays and rendered a fourth depopulated for 28 days, the city government, with some national and foreign aid, fought its way back with a costly BUILD-BACK-BETTER plan to reface Rio Hondo, Sta. Catalina and Sta. Barbara and relocate hundreds of displaced people (90 percent of them Muslim) to better-conditioned houses in two resettlement sites.

Those three poor neighborhoods littered with squatter homes were turned into a rubble-strewn ghost land after the siege that also hurt many civilians and soldiers fighting to retake the bullet-stricken barangays.

That’s a thing of the past better forgotten than commemorated unlike the violent Selma, Alabama protests 50 years ago. That horrible experience happened three months into Mayor Ma. Isabel Climaco-Salazar’s first term in office. Then came the October rains that brought floods and mudslides, even deaths, the successive conflagrations, terrifying bombings, the never-dying killings in broad-daylight and endless abductions that we like to call kidnappings. Nothing came out even at the end of the day, as in Winston Churchill’s time, but rather worsened as if no cure is in sight — like AIDS.

With help here and there, the present city administration seems to be recovering lost ground. Mayor Climaco-Salazar’s programs for 2015, barring political hitches, will bring her back to prominence and regain the trust of the electorate and the people at large. If the momentum is unabridged by those who wish her to fail, she will, if she decides to seek re-election in 2016, win it all.

Which brings us to the imminent break-up of a family coalition that has stood the test of time. Let me explain: Mayor Climaco-Salazar is an unwavering member of the “yellow army”, the Liberal Party (LP). Congressman Celso L. Lobregat who has said that he shall return (to City Hall), is foolishly clinging on to a dying, if not dead, political party — Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) — and a local political party formed four years ago by his brother, Jomar, Adelante Zamboanga. Congresswoman Lilia Nuno who took a leave from the LDP in order to run as a guest candidate of the Nacionalista Party (NP) in the second district has taken her oath as a member of the NP whose titular head, until he is replaced, is former Congressman Erbie Fabian.

As I have pointed out many moons ago and even now that there are persistent rumors that Mayor Climaco-Salazar will be running for re-election and Cong. Lobregat will, by every trick in the book, try to get back City Hall. The “Great Alliance” between these two great families will finally be dismantled, given the buttered-up bread, bacon-satiated and egg-filled scenario (sabroso gayot!) that everybody, including barbers and strip dancers, likes to talk about. As I see it, based on her ambitious program directions this year, Madam Beng is doing what John Lyly declared long ago: “The greatest harm that you can do unto the envious is to do well.”

As for Mr. Lobregat, my former employer, he can use his brilliant mind, vaunted political wizardry, vast resources and the deep pockets of campaign donors to fulfill what he boasted three years ago: “The best has yet to come!” But he’ll have to spend a great deal of money on advertisements and media coverage to clinch victory because Mrs. Climaco-Salazar is a giant that can’t be defeated by a mere slingshot. Oh, yes, those demoralizing footages of the Zamboanga siege will be shown repeatedly as a paid advertisement when the time comes — just like the deadly embrace between Nur Misuari and Rini Climaco in 1988 and the killing handshake between Misuari and Vit Agan in 1998. The sex video? That, too.

Madre mia. That’s how dirty local politics has become.