“Life is not a solo act. It’s a huge collaboration, and we all need to assemble around us the people who care about us and support us in times of strife.” Tim Gunn
By Alex P. Vidal
ILOILO appears to be the safest haven for the country’s highest official during political upheavals in a nationwide scale.
Ilonggo leaders have always been quick and firm in making a political stand.
They are aware that President Simeon Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III draws strength from them.
President Aquino is aware, too, that the Ilonggo leaders are willing to sink and swim with him.
After all, he feeds them well.
Ditto for the police and the military.
If he can’t stand the political and military heats in Metro Manila, President Aquino can transfer the Malacanang Palace in Iloilo where almost all the local leaders here don’t want him to step down amid rumors of coup d’etat.
Mr. Aquino will be safe in Iloilo as long as Gov. Arthur “Art” Defensor Sr., Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, Iloilo City Rep. Jerry P. Treñas, among other local chief executives and representatives are in power.
While other political leaders in the country have been mum over the simmering calls from various sectors for the president to relinquish his post in the heels of the “Mamasapano 44” debacle these past weeks, Iloilo leaders have rejected calls for Aquino’s resignation.
Negros Occidental leaders also joined those who want the president to finish his term until 2016.
It’s the people and the leaders in the entire Western Visayas who are willing to shield the president from those agitating for his resignation.
The Ilonggos also sneered at the call to impeach Mr. Aquino if he won’t step down.
They fear political destabilization and economic meltdown once the president has been removed or forced to resign.
Back in July 2005, Senate President Franklin Drilon asked then President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to relocate the seat of power in Iloilo while the president’s enemies were ganging up on her for the “Hello Garci” fiasco.
Drilon, however, turned his back from Mrs. Arroyo several days later and joined those who wanted her to yield the presidency to then Vice President Noli De Castro.
Drilon wanted to be the next vice president via the rule of succession.
There are no signs that Mr. Aquino’s Iloilo allies will abandon ship and surrender him on a silver platter to the enemies.
They are four square behind the president.
“The Moro rebels are Filipinos, too. They are under our laws so they should also be held accountable for any violations of our criminal law,” Defensor announced recently.
“Let the Board of Inquiry investigate the incident. Let the Senate and the House (of Representatives) investigate it, better under a joint investigating committee. Let’s all wait for the result. The peace process should not prevent the government from seeking justice for the 44 killed SAF members.”
Treñas also tagged as a “call for grab power” the move to compel the president to resign and to be held accountable in the tragic massacre of the 44 elite cops.
The congressman said: “What happened in Mamasapano is one of the darkest chapters of our history. But what’s even more lamentable is the fact that some people cannot simply resist the urge to use the misfortunes of our nation for their own selfish agenda. This call for President Aquino’s resignation is a nothing but a call for power grab.”
Mr. Aquino can sleep tight while under the watchful eyes of his Western Visayas allies.
The 34-member Visayan bloc led by Treñas and Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez have already issued a manifesto of support for the president come hell or high water.
For these Visayan allies, the accountability and criminal liability should only fall on those who planned and implemented the operation against Marwan, a terrorist killed during the January 25 raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
The manifesto read: “We…commiserate and empathize with the families of the 44 members of the SAF who died during the said Mamasapano operation. We demand accountability for those who planned and implemented the debacle and the imposition of criminal liability for those responsible for the massacre.
“Change in administration should be the farthest solution to what happened in Maguindano and should not be our response to our currently hurting nation….The Mamasapano incident should create unity and strong front among us Filipinos instead of discord.”
They stressed that “The nation and our colleagues in the Philippine Congress to focus on the investigations and call for swift and thorough deliberations on what happened in the Mamasapano operation.
“The probe should immediately identify those who should be accountable for what happened, ensure that perpetrators of the massacre suffer the full force of our penal laws, and develop remedies that would prevent another incident from happening in the future to the men in uniform who are only fulfilling their vows to promote peace and order in the country.”