Politics of friendship, Philippines style

Written by Mike S. Apostol, Zamboanga Times.

Claiming someone a friend in politics in the Philippines, is a farce. Until the last moment when political campaign begins, the real man called a political friend and ally, reality pops up. Hypocrisy and lie are a political game and the season of election is the season of “yes”, where almost all candidates deliberately erased the word “no” in their vocabulary until the election season is over. This is also a time of frustration and envy for many candidates, because during the campaign season, even your closest “buddy” candidate has a secret agenda for himself even if you take your meals in one plate with him as a friend. This is happening all over the country, even more in the halls of power like the Palace, where the President is a demigod, pulling strings at will for his purpose and his loyal followers who at his “beck and call” scramble forward in obedience.
 
DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, scion of one of the country’s wealthy old families, who was promised as the next President of the country after giving way to President Pnoy Aquino for the presidency six years ago, was almost “dropped like a hot potato” by President Pnoy Aquino, in favor of the more popular with higher survey rating political neophyte Senator Grace Poe. Had the President’s Liberal party mates not squirmed in protest and threatened to “break-up” the party, Secretary Roxas could have been set aside after loyally working and absorbing the flaks and misadventure of President Aquino’s administration for the past six years. This is “politics of friendship” at work, the right hand offers mannah, while the left hand is holding the “whip”.
 
In Zamboanga City, by all indications “politics of friendship” will rear its ugly head within this coming few months. Not to inflame the political relationship of incumbents, Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar and Distrrict 1 Congressman Celso L. Lobregat, who all came from one political party and mentor, the late City Mayor and Congress Representative Maria Clara L. Lobregat, hot interesting topics in drinking joints and coffee shops by businessmen and professionals predict a rift in the local ruling party and a political show down between Congressman Lobregat and Mayor Beng Climaco-Salazar for the highest position at City Hall. Instant surveys among drinking buddies oftentimes happen and the result is very interesting.  Different survey criteria and category, reveal different results but the heaviest question of firmness and strong leadership goes to Congressman Celso Lobregat. Christian and Muslim drinking buddies agree that Congressman Lobregat showed his firm leadership nationally in his opposition to the BBL, an issue that makes the spines of Zamboanguenos stand in aghast and alarm. The threat of some Muslims who favor the approval of the BBL, that Congressman Lobregat not get Muslim votes in Zamboanga are contested by many Muslim businessmen and professionals in the city that many of the Muslims in the city will support Lobregat provided the Comelec will not interfere with the election like allowing “flying voters” to cast votes because there are more Muslim flying voters than Christians for one simple reason “identity”.
 
Although the issue of a political break-up in Zamboanga City has not yet happened and remains unconfirmed, many believe it will happen because it already happened in the past with then Congressman Erico Basilio Apolinario Fabian, whose friendship and political relationship with the Lobregats started from the very beginning of the Lobregat political legend. The break-up happened just in a simple goodbye with a simple reason: political positioning after many years of togetherness. They say it will happen again for many reasons and one of them is simply “political supporters and backers request”. Perhaps many of Congressman Lobregat’s backers and supporters were left out or replaced by Mayor Beng Climaco-Salazar. This is the real “politics of friendship” one lesson to remember: “Don’t give your full trust, leave something for your defense”
 
Mayor Beng Climaco-Salazar’s favorite motto, “Vaya Con Dios” (Leave it to God), an unquestionable choice of guidance came under scrutiny from many political leaders who are also deeply religious. Many say that it is a good choice of making God ahead of anything else, leaving it to Him for guidance and decision. However they agree that government and religion must be separate. To leave everything else to God is weakness, because even God said “He will only help those who help themselves first”.  Perhaps that political leader also a church layman might be correct.
 
Zamboanga’s political analysts have even made their possible combinations if and when the political break-up happens, like a Climaco-Agan tandem  and Lobregat-Fabian tandem and possible dark horse Monsi dela Cruz will stage a comeback. Whatever it is, these are all products of imagination by the analysts who are keenly observing our elected officials’ daily movementsand body language. The best move is wait and see, but something is brewing in the horizon.
 
Scoop: Choose your wild: “Vaya con Dios” or “No te Vayas de Zamboanga” or “desde Limpapa hasta Licomo”.
 
Great pretenders who claim to be Zamboanguenos should shut-up. They might be having residences and job here and only recently, but are born either from the Visayas or elsewhere. They have no business to claim the city for themselves. The city is for everyone who loves her and share her blessings.
 
 

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