Rep. Eleandro Jesus Madrona must know this.
The 2013 election is still two years away, but the way his political wards in Sibale (pop. 4,500; voters, 2,200 plus) are acting seems they are already campaigning.
I can’t blame them. Dislodged from power over four years ago, what was once a formidable Budoy army has become a rag tag band of whiners and obstructionists, unable to accept the fact that nothing in politics is permanent; that there comes a time when the people may find it no longer fashionable to elect and re-elect non-performers; and that, therefore, new blood should be injected into the arthritic veins of local governance.
And this is what they did in 2007 and 2010. The people of Sibale—“poor, because” according to the famous Sam Romero, a mainlander politician grossly ignorant of Sibalenhon affairs, “Nicon has not helped”—elected and re-elected the energetic Lemuel Cipriano, thereby announcing to all and sundry the end of the Madrona era in the island.
Once in office, Cipriano did the unthinkable and unbelievable. He delivered. He made potable running water climb into the faucets of Sibalenhon households. He brought back the municipal coffers in the black; paid off the town’s debts; paved the roads; motivated the Sibalenhons to plant so they would have enough to eat; and returned ethical conduct in government service.
He also played Janus-faced politics to get re-elected, so he can continue his good governance program, to the chagrin and frustration of the opposition which fielded Adrian Feudo, a classmate and friend, only to be monstrously defeated because his campaign funds were siphoned off by the more experienced bit players and dishonest voters who hang around him like albatross during the campaign.
Well, Cipriano had also committed a misstep. In 2010, against his friends’ advice, he toyed with fire by dancing briefly with Madrona who he thought (he thought wrongly) would support him to the very end. As it turned out, Madrona, the ever green “balimbing” of Romblon politics, divided his largesse into two halves—one-half for Feudo and the half for a long-time ally, Merenciano Fabregas, and Cipriano was left holding the proverbial empty bag.
To be fair, Feudo did not totally lose. He managed to get his councilors elected, and they are now in control of the Sangguniang Bayan. In retrospect, this was a punishment for Cipriano. Today, he finds it irritatingly difficult to wiggle through the opposition-dominated local legislative chamber.
SB member Rey Feudo, a staunch Cipriano ally, has reported that the SB has been blocking every legislative proposal of the administration. “They do this without compunction, logic, or plausible reason,” he said.
A red-hot issue at the SB is Sibale’s Annual Investment Plan, or AIP, which enumerates the administration’s programs and projects to be funded out of the municipal development fund. As a spending measure, the AIP needs SB approval. SB member Feudo says the 2011 AIP is languishing in the SB because the majority is opposing its passage every step of the way.
“The opposition, led by SB member Monico Firmalan and Association of Barangay Captains president Medrito Fabreag, is questioning the validity of the public consultations held for the AIP, as well as the non-government representatives to the municipal development council that adopted it,” Feudo reported.
“They want to repeat the consultations. They even want to re-cast the membership of the MDC, but its structure and composition has been there since they were last in power and they didn’t question it the first time. So why only now?” he fumed.
Putting the AIP to a vote will surely mean its defeat and its return to the drawing board, which would mean further delay. So, it is being put on hold, with the administration biding for time while the SB is waiting for a Solomon to decree a messianic resolution.
In the meantime, Cipriano has no AIP. He cannot spend the 20 percent municipal development fund for his programs and projects, otherwise he would be courting a backlash, or worse, a legal challenge, from the SB.
What should Cipriano and his allies do?
If I were him, I will bring the case directly to the people by making public the obstructionist and obstinate ways of the opposition. If I were him, I will make the following small political speech:
“Fellow Sibalenhons: You know very well that as your mayor, I have been doing the best I can, despite so many natural and man-made constraints, to deliver to you government’s basic services to improve your lives.
“Lately, however, the political opposition, a minority among us but a majority in the SB, has been trying to prevent me—and that means you—from spending P4 million in taxpayers’ money to build more wells, pave more roads, and buy more medicines, for the simple reason that its members don’t want my administration—and that means you—to succeed.
“I am not complaining. I am only telling. I am only letting you know that if they insist on their own obstructionist, delaying, and nitpicking ways of engaging in the politics of vengeance simply because they are already bankrupt of ideas on how to improve the lot of every Sibalenhon, that’s their call. You can judge them later with your votes.
“On my part, and as your leader, I know so many ways to serve you and that’s what I will do, with or without the AIP. By not acting on the AIP, they are denying you—not me—with much-needed public funds.
“But lest I be accused later of not being candid about the situation, I would like you to know that the opposition, because of its intransigence, has declared war on good governance and I am engaging them, for I don’t back out from a good fight. I am fighting them as your elected leader because I don’t want you to become victims of their kind of politics which you already soundly rejected in 2010.
“So please write your SB members. Visit them and tell them that what they are doing are contrary to your wishes as voters who elected them; that you will not allow them to trample upon your rights as citizens by denying you what is rightfully yours; and that you will later hold them accountable for posing obstacles to Sibale’s development.
“Thank you and God bless Sibale and the Sibalenhons.”