The order suspending our mayor – a boomerang

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide - The Freeman

There is something unbelievably dominant in the psyche of the Filipino that an educated explanation by social psychologists can be very helpful. This is our obvious love for the underdog. We feel it but, in my case, I know not why. Perhaps a great number of our people too, are, like me, unable to explain its psychological rooting thoroughly.

Many events in our history have, no doubt, shown that we tend to favor the underdog in his struggle against the powerful and mighty. For instance, we were so incensed when a helpless Ninoy Aquino was led out of the airplane and gunned down at the tarmac of the Manila International Airport. It is fresh in my mind the image of men, imposing in their presence and intimidating, by their uniform, who picked up a Ninoy, whose worry and uncertainly was etched all over his face. Such was our love for the underdog that Ninoy was that and instead of bullets silencing our nation, we closed our ranks to fight the power that oppressed the underdog until …well history tells us what glorious event happened.

The suspension of His Honor, Cebu City Mayor Michael L. Rama, as mayor for two months is not, by any means, as significant as the assassination of Ninoy Aquino. Yet, in its limited perspective, I can see some parallelism.

1. The late Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos, until he died, disavowed any linkage to the death of Ninoy. Unfortunately for Marcos, all glaring telltale signs indicative of having given the horrible marching order belied his protestations of innocence. The Filipino people seemed to know more than his loud disclaimer.

This was true in the suspension of Mayor Rama. I was told (because I have not read the suspension Order myself) that it was signed by the Executive Secretary. So, it should necessarily be, upon the authority of the president. Meaning, the president, by only authorizing his executive secretary to promulgate that order, can wash hands. Of course, by the doctrine of qualified political agency, Ochoa's order was legally speaking, Pres. Aquino's.

2. The phalanx of military men that surrounded the Ninoy Aquino kill zone demonstrated that the operation was sanctioned by, at the very least, non-elective high government officials. The soldiers, who were supposed to protect Ninoy Aquino from any harm, were not elective officials of either national or local government units. Their direct superiors were not the electorate for they owed allegiance to the power that gave them authority to wear military uniform.

The man who wrote the Order suspending Mayor Rama was (sorry, is) not an elected official. He does not owe any allegiance to and, for all we know, may not even care about the Cebuanos. This executive secretary does not mind disregarding our solemn mandate for a Mayor Rama to serve our city and so he cannot feel having transgressed our trust in our mayor. Likewise, the agents who implemented the order had not received a single vote from us. I am certain that they will be buried in an avalanche of votes should they submit themselves to any election.

3. Ninoy Aquino was, before Martial Law effectively removed him from his seat as senator of the republic, an elected of the government. His resonant voice led the senate in checking the president from his perceived abuse of power. In fearlessly challenging Malacañang, he concreted the democratic ideal of providing a choice. Aquiino's brand of charismatic leadership among the ranks of the opposition was salutary.

Mayor Rama, in aligning himself with the opposition, took the same Ninoy path of challenging Malacañang. The mayor might not be as vocal as the senator was but in routing, Tommy Osmeña, his political foe in 2013, he showed that he, as the mayor of the queen city of the south, can carry the Cebuano votes. To my mind, this is what really what Malacañang wanted - to subdue all forces opposing the Liberal Party especially in Cebu City so that its political sub-alterns will face no opponents.

4. But, listen to radio commentators hereabout. Even the more vociferous of the mayor's critics do not agree with Malacañang. Read the columns of opinion writers and those who, in other times, were harsh upon the mayor, are certain that Mayor Rama is a victim of dirty politics. More importantly, pay attention to the murmurs of hordes of ordinary citizens of the city and you can feel that there is a backlash. The Malacañang suspension order boomerangs upon the power-that-be and its local stooge.  A groundswell of support for our mayor is perceptively building. We know that Malacañang imposed a sanction against our mayor that, to most of us, is as unjust as the murder of Ninoy Aquino.

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