Table Talk : ‘Dirty’ voters make, ‘dirty’ politicians PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 19 September 2012 14:01

BY Mike S Apostol

Last Sunday evening, Table Talk was with some friends for a weekend drinking spree in a neighborhood barbecue stand. I was with some kagawads and leaders coming from nearby barangays who were all old acquaintances. While enjoying our beer and barbecue we talked of so many things —  from personal matters to some serious security and political issues. Serious matters like “is the city mayor doing something good for Zamboanga city?” “Who among our city dads deserve to be re-elected?””Why is Romeo “Nonong” Jalosjos disqualified as a registered city voter?””Why all of a sudden did Jomar Lobregat, brother of the city mayor, join the race for the 2nd congressional district?” “Will there be, a barangay election coming in the next few months?” “Who are the hopefuls for city councilor?””Who is ahead for city mayor, between Erbie Fabian and Beng Climaco-Salazar?” and “Has the city’s peace and order situation improved?” These and many more relevant issues cropped up as we were enjoying our drinks by the sidewalk in Suterville subdivision. We did not notice that while we were enjoying the discussion, other customers were also intently listening.
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It was a surpirised that these barangay officials are abreast in all those issues and though we had contradicting opinions, the discussion went well especially on politics. Many agreed that the city mayor is doing good, but they also opined that he sometimes interfere with matters that are supposed delegated to other city officials. Between Erbie Fabian and Beng Climaco-Salazar for city mayor, Beng might be leading in the religious and women sector, while Erbie Fabian is leading among the “masa” and the youth sector. The business and professional sector are well divided between Beng and Erbie with Erbie Fabian leading in the government and private employee sector. One negative factor against Beng Climaco-Salazar is why she allowed herself to be subservient to Mayor Celso Lobregat by abandoning her prestigious Deputy Speakership for Mindanao in Congress. Most of those barangay officials perceive the move of Beng Climaco-Salazar as “patronage politics” but in fairness to Beng Climaco-Salazar, “she needs explanation to the city to erase this doubts”, said one barangay official.
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They also believe that the disqualification of Romeo”Nonong” Jalosjos was a concerted effort by petitioners to remove the potential and awesome resources of Nonong Jalosjos in the coming elections which the Lobregats and Beng Climaco-Salazar have to match at the disadvantage of the Lobregats who are all vying for Congress in the two districts. The petitioners too, need enough resources to counter the resources of their opponents, who are also believed to spend for their victory. The popular and accepted name of the late Ma’am Caling Lobregat is still fresh in the memory of the city’s voters but, the problem is, all of the potential candidates will be bringing her good name, since they all came from her “stable” and the Lobregats will have no monopoly on her popularity. One customer interrupted our discussion by giving his unsolicited opinion that “money is still needed very much if your are running for congressman or mayor because it is a one-on-one contest and there is no second placer unlike the city council where you are given up to the eight place and money is not a factor but big clans, many friends and acquaintances and popularity is the real factor for victory”. He continued “you will only lose if the party junks you”. Latter on we knew, the interrupter, is an officer of a homeowners association in one the big subdivisions in the city.
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Peace and order in the city may have improved in some aspects but not much, according to one Kagawad from San Roque. He reasoned out that barangay officials are not given ample support from the city to be involved in the maintenance of security even in their barangay. He said even their “tanods” are poorly paid with a starvation wage. “Nobody will risk his life for a daily allowance that is not even enough to feed his family of four for one day”. Indeed, if this is true, the criminals will continue to rule over the barangays.
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What is surprising is that, every election time, candidates can well afford to buy votes as high as the monthly salary of a casual worker, “Do the candidates have more money than the government?” This is a question asked by a friend who is a small landowner in Patalon and he distributes fresh young coconuts in the city. “Even my farm workers are excited that election is almost to come because he has eight voters in his household and easily he can make four thousand pesos in the coming election day,” my friend said.
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Scoop: I have a friend in Zamboanga Sibugay who has a hundred hectares of fishpond and large coconut plantation aside from buying marine products. He was a former municipal mayor. One of his trusted men and security happens to be my town mate and he recalled an incident at the mayor’s office. One day, a man walked and pleaded for assistance to the mayor for his sick child. The mayor asked for his complete name,  then opened a large logbook that he keeps in his drawer and scanned the names written on the pages one by one. Suddenly the mayor said, Pedro (not his real name) “I have given you P10,000 delivered right at your house on the eve of the election, I am sorry I cannot help you now, I have already helped you last election”. So sad that is what you deserve as a “dirty” voter from a “dirty” politician. EHEM.