“It is the public scandal that offends; to sin in secret is no sin at all.” Moliere
By Alex P. Vidal
The late former Iloilo City councilor Melchor Nava immediately dismissed as “rumor mongering” reports that he was caught in flagrante delicto in a “very uncompromising position” with a female staff inside his office when Panay Electric Company (PECO) lights suddenly switched back on after a brief power blackout.
This happened in the mid-90’s, and I was covering the city hall beat. I was there inside Nava’s office together with two other beat reporters when power suddenly went out while we were talking about the involvement of several PNP officials in the Loboc port heist. I left the dark room while Bombo Radyo reporter Abe Beatingo and DYOK (Aksyon Radyo 720) reporter Lynon Cortez allegedly stayed for awhile.
But even if there were no detailed narrations from witnesses, radio stations the following morning feasted on the rumor; Nava and his alleged paramour became the objects of scorn and ugly gossips that lasted for several years. It tormented a lot of people allied with the beleaguered alderman and the female casual employee.
Nava was unfazed though. He and the female staff denied the rumors to death. “Tinonto na ina ‘ya nga istorya. Sin o man nga gago ang mahimu sina sa sulod sang opisina man? (The story is rubbish. Who in his right mind will do such act inside his office?)” Nava bewailed.
“Naga serve gid ako kape kag natabu-an lang nga nag brown out tapos amo na ina dayon ang nag lapta nga istorya? Kalaw-ay a may nobyo ako ‘ya (I was serving coffee when the power interruption occurred. I didn’t expect that a nasty story would spread. It’s not good because I have a boyfriend),” lamented the female employee.
The power interruption lasted for about 15 minutes. Vice Mayor Guillermo dela Llana did not take the matter seriously when sought by reporters if he would throw the books at or rap Nava and the female worker in the knuckles. “Damu problema ciudad ta. Kotso-kotso man lang ina (we have more urgent problems to tackle in the city than dwell on rumors),” the vice mayor remarked.
When asked by then dyBQ reporter Art Calsas for his opinion about the ruckus, the late city councilor Achilles Plagata hollered: “Yots daw indi kamo mga lalaki (aren’t all of you men here?).”
According to initial reports, city hall “would not investigate” the alleged sex scandal involving an executive assistant and a female casual employee that rocked the administration of Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog. But the mayor recently posted this message in his Facebook account:
“There is a current sex scandal issue allegedly involving an executive assistant in city hall. Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog does not and will not tolerate immoral acts within the premises of city hall nor any government office in the city. An investigation shall be conducted by the city administrator, city legal officer and the HR officer. As to give due process as required by civil service law, we would appreciate for anybody who can witness or provide evidence on the alleged sexcapade that happened inside city hall as we do not want to unjustly crucify a person because of unrequited love or political grudges. If the person is found to be positive of the accusations his services will either end or will have to submit an irrevocable resignation. But if these accusations are found to be malicious I suggest that the person bring his accusers to court. Witnesses shall be treated with complete confidentiality.”
All the fuss about the report would turn out to be nothing but plain and simple rumor if no one came forward to substantiate the accusation.
Rumor mongering involving illicit affairs and office romance usually occurs if there is a gross inefficiency and incompetence among employees. When employees are lazy and not productive, their attention and focus are diverted into something else; and they become actively and endlessly hooked on the gossip mill.
Iloilo City Administrator Norlito Bautista, who admitted he got the rumor through text messages and the purported testimony from an auxiliary who allegedly saw the tryst after office hours in the seventh floor, should not have gone to media if he was not ready to name names and put exclamation point on the report.
The guessing game is unfair to the other executive assistants, who must now be the objects of suspicion if not derision from their wives, children and friends. It’s not fair either to the persons referred to in the rumor if they would not be given their day in court but were already crucified in a public trial. The accuser or accusers must come to court with clean hands.
The entire hullabaloo didn’t sit well with Mayor Mabilog, who values family, morality and spirituality aside from public service.