“You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.”
– ERIC HOFFER
By Alex P. Vidal
MANY thieves have served in the Iloilo City Hall when I covered the beat in the late 80’s and in the 90’s.
These dishonest public servants made a pile either by directly stealing the tax payers’ money, or by using their power and influence to gain favors from private contractors and business establishments.
But there were public officials who served wholeheartedly, those who were contented only with their salary, and who never dipped their fingers in the cookie jars.
Romeo Caesar “Juncae” Manikan Jr., the ex-oficio member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod representing the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Federation in the early 90’s, was one of them.
Coy and always smiling, Manikan would rather engage in sports activities with friends than taking advantage of his position as city councilor.
I can’t remember having written a controversial story or expose where Manikan’s name was included.
But I have written critical stories that angered some of Manikan’s senior colleagues, especially the corrupt and the egomaniacs.
Manikan, currently the head of the Office of the Local Civil Registrar, wanted to preserve the legacy of his late father, the indefatigable Treasurer Romeo “Roming” Manikan Sr.
He and his older sister, Ma. Concordia “Diday”, also a former city councilor and a former village chief in Brgy. Concepcion, City Proper, never abused their “privileges” as “Treasurer Roming’s children.”
They remained humble even if they were in power.
Those who share my observations about Juncae Manikan are also probably shocked that he is now being linked to a ridiculous fake marriage scandal.
The fake marriage brouhaha could be a sham and is probably being used only by Manikan’s critics as a political vendetta.
It’s inconceivable that Manikan, who is holding a permanent position as a department head, will risk his good track record in public service to commit a very cheap malfeasance that can’t be kept under wraps.
If Manikan is a bad guy or someone who throws his weight around, he could have made a lot of money through nefarious means during his heydays as city councilor, and when his father was at the helm of power.
City hall will only make Manikan and his wife, Tourism Assistant department chief Eireen Rita, martyrs if it won’t stop persecuting them.
The Manikan couple and other rank-and-file employees now at the center of storm from City Hall’s wrath, are not enemies but members of the City Hall family.
They aren’t adversaries “from within.”
If politics is addition, what is going on is not only subtraction but self-destruction.
A family can’t devour its own children.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)