Does Defiance Pay? (Editor's Note: In the Old Days Politicians Observed Administrative and Judicial Due Process, Not Dangerous Defiance, as Noted by the Author.)

Article excerpt


THIS month appears to be the season for dishing out administrative sanctions against provincial, city and municipal officials for a variety of reasons. The most common ground refers to alleged violation of the anti-graft laws.

The defiant ones

The act of defying decisions against local officials was noted in a few provinces, cities, and towns. Again the most common ground is "lack of due process." The courts were asked to intervene and review administrative sanctions.

In the case of Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay judicial intervention saved him from a hasty ouster from City Hall. The anti-graft court likewise dismissed the graft cases against him, his wife and the councilors.

Always months before election

Observers have noted that severe decisions of dismissal are being sent out some five months before the May 14 elections. Analysts can also point to some similarities in misfortune: Most elective officials facing suspension or dismissal are the veterans in local politics and the charges against them were preferred by either political opponents or by their so-called "friends" in the same party.

Let me cite a famous case filed against a city mayor at the beginning of his first term in 1952. His opponents were not politicians, but heavyweights holding office in Malacanang.

Neither defiant nor angry

In his time Mayor Arsenio H. Lacson was a national hero to both young and old voters. He had the gift and blessing for coining petty insults against the party in power -- the Liberal Party (LP). He never failed to pick a fight, big or small, with Malacanang as well as officials who were elected with him in November 1951.

First election since 1571

For the first time since 1571, Manilans were given the right to choose their local officials -- mayor, vice mayor and councilors.

The opposition Nacionalista Party (NP) fielded Arsenio H. Lacson, 37 (then a congressman representing Quiapo, etc.), to challenge the might of City Hall under Mayor Manuel de la Fuente, a veteran of city politics since the 1930s. …