As I See It

4 political dynasties slugging it out in Cavite

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Political dynasties are proliferating in spite of the constitutional ban on them. In Cavite, home of President Emilio Aguinaldo, matinee idol Leopoldo Salcedo, bandit Nardong Putik, and kapeng barako, four families are fighting it out for local positions in the May elections. The ruling Remulla dynasty is fielding three members; the Revillas led by senator and actor Bong Revilla, four; and the Maliksis led by Rep. Ayong Maliksi, also four. Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who is beginning to form his own political dynasty, is throwing a son into the political fray to run for vice governor.

It seems that the people of Cavite have many choices, but they actually have none. Whoever they choose, they will be voting for a member of a political dynasty. Whichever family wins, the Caviteños will be ruled by a political dynasty.

Recently, Cavite politics hit the front pages when the Supreme Court upheld a Commission on Elections order reinstating Homer Saquilayan of the Remulla camp as the duly elected mayor of Imus, unseating Mayor Emmanuel Maliksi, son of Ayong Maliksi. However, Emmanuel Maliksi refused to vacate his seat and barricaded himself inside City Hall. When Gov. Jonvic Remulla, Saquilayan and their supporters came to serve the high court’s order, they found the steel gates locked. The governor himself climbed over the wall to get in. He found the office of the mayor also locked, with Maliksi inside, so he just pasted the order on the door and left.

Up until today, it is not certain who is the mayor. Both claimants are issuing orders and the employees do not know who to obey. Worse, they have not been paid because the city’s bank accounts have been frozen. The Comelec has sent notices to the banks that Saquilayan has been declared mayor and not to honor the signatures of Maliksi. But the Department of Interior and Local Government has not yet recognized Saquilayan as  mayor in spite of the decisions of the Supreme Court and the Comelec. It doesn’t explain why. It just pretends that nothing has happened. So Saquilayan cannot yet issue checks and sign payrolls. Which leaves the employees in a bind, victims of petty politics.

The DILG’s behavior is puzzling. In the case of Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia, it immediately took steps to replace Garcia (who also barricaded herself in her office) on mere orders from the Office of the Executive Secretary. When Garcia left the governor’s office to attend an affair in another town, the DILG moved in. When she returned, she found herself locked out.  In the case of Emmanuel Maliksi, however, the DILG refuses to lift a finger to enforce the orders of the Supreme Court and the Comelec. Why?

Maybe this explains it: The Maliksis are members of the Liberal Party. The DILG is headed by Secretary Mar Roxas, president of the LP. The Remullas are members of the Nacionalista Party. The NP is a member of the Team PNoy senatorial coalition, with Rep. Cynthia Villar as its representative in the ticket. But that coalition is not recognized in Cavite. The May elections will be a free-for-all slugfest among political dynasties in the province.

Governor Remulla, who was the lone guest at the Kapihan sa Manila at the Diamond Hotel last Monday (representatives of the other Cavite dynasties had been invited, but they did not show up), denounced the “double standard” of the DILG. He said it is supposed to serve the whole nation, not only the LP.

Remulla is running for reelection. Ayong Maliksi is stepping down from his House seat to try to reclaim his old title as the kingpin of Cavite—a title formerly held by the Remulla patriarch. He is facing graft charges at the Office of the Ombudsman for deals made when he was still the governor. Remulla fears that documentary evidence against him in City Hall files may disappear if he returns as governor.

Maliksi is accused of pocketing part of the budget allocated for a housing project for the poor of Cavite. Only a small number of the planned 360 houses in the project has been finished, but the money is all gone. The houses are still unoccupied until now. Where did the rest of the money go? Remulla asks.

A large part of the budget went to filling materials for the project. Documents purport to show that tens of millions of pesos were used for 700 truckloads of filling materials. But there were no fillings. What were paid for were ghost deliveries of hundreds of truckloads of filling materials. Who were the ghosts who pocketed the money?

Remulla said documents on the project have been subpoenaed by investigators. They will be able to unravel this mystery soon. But I am certain it will not happen before the elections. Which means there will be no investigation results to decide the winners in the forthcoming polls.

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Latest Social Weather Stations survey results show Sen. Chiz Escudero down to third place with Rep. JV Ejercito, leaving his second-place ranking to Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano. Sen. Loren Legarda remains in first place. Nancy Binay, Cynthia Villar and Koko Pimentel are tied in the fifth and seventh spots. Antonio Trillanes is eighth; Gringo Honasan ninth; Bam Aquino 10th; Grace Poe 11th; and Sonny Angara 12th. Close behind, in the 13th and 14th spots, are Jackie Enrile and Jun Magsaysay.

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