The rise and fall of Jepoy Celiz (Part I)

It ended almost as abruptly as it began. Jeffrey Celiz, former “post boy of the left” as a female journalist described him, swiftly rose to prominence when City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog designated him as official spokesman about half a year ago. Last Friday, Celiz plummeted to the ground, facing a future in obscurity, after Mabilog replaced him with Lucy Montealto-Sinay.

The move represents a dramatic turn in Mabilog’s communications strategy. Celiz was combative; Ms. Sinay is calm and unassuming. Insults and foul language constituted the armory of Celiz; Ms. Sinay will stick to facts and figures. Celiz behaved like he was the assistant city mayor, overshadowing a host of senior officials in City Hall. Ms. Sinay knows her place in the organization. Celiz was used to intimidation, and liked to give people the dagger look, often using his past association with the NPA to frighten enemies. Ms. Sinay will use charm and persuasion.

Celiz fell with a loud thud. Within minutes of Celiz’s being stripped of the job, word spread like wildfire through text messages in the local media community that the loud-mouth had been plastered. Celiz was no longer spokesman. Mabilog has had enough of his foul language. The city mayor realized that instead of helping clarify issues, his erstwhile spokesman only served to deepen the controversies. Rather than fend off charges and serve as lightning rod, Celiz succeeded in antagonizing more people and turned believers into non-believers.

Now that we can talk of the imbecile in the past tense, let’s examine what happened in clinical fashion and understand why Celiz fell as quickly as he rose. His case is instructive to those who might join this business of communications.

No leader can shrug off communications as an important component of his or her leadership strategy. It is the leaders link to his or her followers. A leader must keep in mind that success depends largely on the support from the masses.

CREDIBILITY. The first flaw we found in Celiz was the lack of credibility. From day one, he was a monster — a Frankenstein — who spewed tons and tons of words without delivering an iota of truth. Who could possibly believe him? Only a few years ago, Celiz screamed in condemnation against corruption. All of a sudden, he was trying to defend corruption. His role as spokesman and defender of the throne was a big anomaly. He was ill-suited for the job. And his style underwent no change; it was tailor-fit for the “protest and condemn” mode.

Even the language used by Celiz was not appropriate for the role as spokesman. He forgot that he was an alter ego of his principal, Mabilog. By firing off expletives, curses, insults and the like, he was painting an ugly picture of Mabilog. His language became the language of Mabilog.

As a result, businessmen and citizens who had supported Mabilog were shocked and terrified. How could they support a leader who was cloaked in scandal and used profane language? Celiz didn’t realize he was no longer in the streets. When he joined City Hall, he should have undergone a personality change. His manners and language should have turned from coarse to refined.

ARROGANCE. It was Lord Acton who said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The phrase aptly describes what happened to Celiz when he was given that brief opportunity to walk in the corridors of power. If there is one word that best applies to Celiz, “arrogance” would be it.

In the one-half year that he performed the role as official spokesman of the city mayor, Celiz oozed with arrogance. His actions smacked of abuse of power. He harassed people. He assaulted the mayor’s enemies verbally and through the “adobo ilonggo” blogs that he maintained with the “lin-ay sang sinadya sa suba”. He usurped authority and stepped on the toes of his own co-workers in the Iloilo City Hall. He loved power and he wasn’t shy about it.

In a way, Celiz became a victim of his own making. Celiz spent a great deal of time concocting schemes to undermine his rivals for Mabilog’s attention. One antic he liked to do was to create issues about his co-workers in City Hall and feed these to media. When radio commentators bring up such issues on their programs and start hitting Mabilog, Celiz would quickly call them up and deflect the issues against his boss. This way, his co-workers looked bad to Mabilog and he would be the “hero”.

Among those he stabbed in the back were City Administrator Norlito Bautista, Senior Special Assistant Victor Facultad and erstwhile media liaison officer Richard “Boboy” Sombero. He also liked to spread falsehood about radio and newspaper personalities who dared make negative comments about Mabilog. He often posted unsavory blog comments about certain media personalities being on the payroll of Rommel S. Ynion. He was a master of black propaganda.

What he didn’t figure was the ability of his rivals in City Hall to hit back at him. Stupidity is a trademark of Celiz, and his enemies in the Mabilog inner circle were quick to point them out to the city mayor. They found allies in the business sector, especially the Filipino-Chinese, who found Celiz’s tactics to be self-defeating. It reached a point that Mabilog could no longer stomach the blunders and misdeeds of Celiz. On Friday, he was told he was no longer official spokesman.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

One Response to The rise and fall of Jepoy Celiz (Part I)

  1. As expected Jepoy is going to serve certain purpose for a very short period. What about the alliance that Mabilog-Trenas and the political left? This is something to watch.


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