Saturday, January 19, 2013
A Time to Kill: Vulnerable Filipino Politicians
By MORTZ C. ORTIGOZA
Resolution No. 9561-A issued by the Commission on Election that withdrew the two police escorts given to a senator, congressman, governor, city or town mayor is a powder keg waiting to explode. The resolution reads in part: “…all existing authority granting security personnel or bodyguards to carry firearms are hereby revoked at the start of the election period”. Election period starts at January 13 and end on June 12 this year. The Resolution says that unless approved by the Comelec, local candidates may engage the services of no more than two duly licensed or authorized protective agents of private detective agencies to act as their bodyguards during the election period.
The Resolution said only those running for national position like a senator can avail the not more than two policemen, military men, or personnel of the National Bureau of Investigation for security details.
The Comelec order considered congressmen as local officials thus they could not get the escorts given by law to senators.
Here is the problem: Until the Comelec grants these local candidates armed security details, they would be paper target by their scheming rivals who know that since January 13 they have been deprived of their two police escorts.
But a high elective official told me that mayors still carry their guns and maintain armed civilian bodyguards in their towns and cities “Kasi wala namang huhuli sa kanila doon dahil kaibigan o hawak nila ang Comelec officer (in the town or city) at chief of police.”
Another police officer who still does escort duty to his city mayor despite the Comelec ‘s resolution told me: “Nasa intelligence ako kaya puwede ako magdala ng side arm. Distansiya lang ako kay mayor pero escort pa rin niya ako. Iyong resolution wala iyon. Internal arrangement na ni mayor kay hepe iyong detail ko sa kanya.”.
He wondered that in the last election police escorts were not withdrawn but only given an identification card to show that they are sanctioned by the election body.
But I told them that their style of running around the law is good only in their patron’s jurisdiction. “E pa-paano kung lumabas si mayor ng bayan o ciudad niya at pumunta sa Manila? At inabangan siya sa ibang bayan at inambush dahil alam ng kalaban niya wala siyang bodyguards at armas dahil sa resolution ng Comelec?” I posed.
Sometimes I run into friendly arguments with readers (who are mostly public officials and media commentators) of this column when I opined here recently that preventive suspension of elective officials is prohibitive 90 days before the election according to the Local Government Code of 1991. “Binilang ko iyon! It should be February 13 and not on January 13 as almost everybody understands” I told them.
Section 261 of Comelec Resolution No. 3401 provides: “ During the election period from January 13, 2013 to June 12, 2013, no public official shall, except upon prior written authority of the Commission… “Section 2: Suspend any elective provincial, city, municipal or barangay officer, unless the suspension will be for purposes of applying the "Anti- Graft and Corrupt Practices Act" in relation to the suspension and removal of elective officials”
After consummate columnists Max Soliven (whom Henry Kissinger once remarked "Max has walked with more heroes than Carlos P. Romulo and more heels than Adidas) and Teddy Benigno died, and nonpareil opinion writers Larry Henares and Tony Abaya became inactive (Larry told me in Pasay City that Tony got heart attack), I missed these guys’ perceptive and witty opinions every time I opened Philippine dailies in the net.
But thank God there is still Thomas Friedman of the New York Times that fill the vacuum of my intellectual curiosity every time I click my mouse to the editorial section of the paper.
In his hard bound book ("Hot, Flat, and Crowded” that hooked me lately) that was a compilation of his columns at NYT, he said that city mayors all over the country can mitigate the traffic congestion through a toll gate in their turf called congestion-pricing system:
“To enter into the downtown area, you had to pass through an electronic gateway, which automatically charged you $12 (P480) for entering the city between 10:00 a.m and 2:00 p.m (it costs $18 (P720) at rush hour). This is another reason you work from home as often as you can, carpool, or take the bus to work. It’s all part of the new congestion-pricing system that has dramatically reduced the number of cars coming into the city and thereby created more room for electric buses and other forms of mass transit, which can now take more people to more places faster than ever before.
Your city’s new mayor actually won the election with the motto: “Price the road and clear the traffic.” You don’t need to be a rocket scientist, said the mayor:”If you want fewer CO2 emitters, charge people money for emitting CO2. If you want fewer cars on the roads during certain hours, charge people money for using them. It works everywhere it has been tried.”
After Pangasinan gubernatorial bet Nani Braganza waved a huge picture of a multi-million of pesos General Motors made Hummer “truck” and a top of the line Toyota Land Cruiser SUV in his recent press conference in Dagupan City, I was intrigued by the comment of Friedman on the hypocrisy of the bigwigs at GM on their “Green Technology” the behemoth car maker adopted for their cars, here’s Thomas baby: “General Motors put yellow gas caps on its cars that are flex-fuel, meaning they can run on a mix of gasoline and ethanol. For years, GM never bothered to highlight that its cars were flex-fuel, or use it as a selling point with customers, because the only reason GM made a certain number of cars flex-fuel was that, it if did so, the government would allow it to build even more gas-guzzling Hummers and pickup trucks and still remain under the CAFE fuel economy standard mandated by Congress.." (You can read my selected columns at http://mortzortigoza.blogspot.com and articles at Pangasinan News Aro. You can send comments too firstname.lastname@example.org