The reign of deceit


I never gave this affair about Jed Patrick E. Mabilog being nominated for a supposed “World Mayor” award until my friend, lawyer and journalist Teofisto “Pistong” Melliza, shared on my Facebook wall a campaign poster seeking voter support for the Iloilo City mayor among netizens.

What struck me as incredible was the statement that Mabilog is the only Philippine city mayor who was nominated to the top 25 local chief executives from around the world to vie for this award. It revealed much about what this supposed award is all about. It is a racket.

No sensible organization would confer an award as “World Mayor” on the basis of online votes by email. That method of selection could never qualify as a credible reflection of the sentiments of people from around the world. It is a deceitful ploy that will only help vultures gobble up more prey.

Inside me, I feel hurt that still a considerable number of Ilonggos are falling prey to this racket. In City Hall, officials and employees are allowing themselves to be used as tools to promote the deceit. In doing so, they are devoured by the scam and become deceitful themselves. For everybody knows Mabilog is not material for such an award if that were a legitimate one.

One just needs to look around the city to know that Mabilog can’t even qualify to be the best mayor of Iloilo City in its history. In almost every aspect of governance, Mabilog has done poorly. If there is one area where he excels, it’s in what I call “cosmetic governance”. This guy knows how to embellish an ugly picture to make it look good.

Right now, there is a public uproar over the frequent brown-outs in Iloilo City. There is hardly a day when the city is not hit by a power outage. In the past, power interruptions were caused by weather disturbances such as a thunderstorm, which caused tree branches to break and hit power lines. Lately, however, brown outs occur even in calm weather. The outages happen without obvious causes.

But Ilonggos have never heard their city mayor castigate Panay Electric Co. for its deteriorating service. Mabilog has kept unusually quiet as most of the people curse PECO for these brown outs. It’s as if Mabilog has been deaf about the people’s gripes about electrical services. The situation has turned so bad that Philippine Daily Inquirer ran a story about it. Still, Mabilog remained mum about it.

Well, Mabilog has been more vociferous on the water supply problems of Iloilo City. However, his words are never backed up by action. Four years ago, Mabilog said he would lead a picket march against the Metro Iloilo Water District unless it put an end to its inability to supply water to the city’s households. Nothing happened. Time and again, Mabilog would raise his shrill voice against MIWD. It never went beyond words.

The same thing could be said about Mabilog’s handling of the city’s garbage, crime, traffic and other major problems, to include health and sanitation. In all these areas, his performance could be described as dismal failures. He is so pre-occupied with “beautificaaation”. However, he forgets the problems can’t be hidden with cosmetics.

To my mind, Mabilog resorts to deceitful methods to hide his incompetence. He doesn’t know his job, but he doesn’t want to admit it. He needs camouflage to make him look good. He needs awards and titles to polish and shine his otherwise lackluster image. He makes heavy use of cosmetics, false eyelashes and wigs to accomplish this. Of course I use that in a figurative sense.

But there is one image that comes to mind when I think about Mabilog’s deceitful stratagems. Two years ago, he asked his media handlers to compose a “before and after” poster of his supposed achievements in cleaning up the Iloilo River. The left side of the poster showed a colony of shanties spilling over the banks of the Iloilo River, with Gaisano City in the background. The right side of the poster showed that portion of the riverbank cleared of the ugly shanties. Mabilog claimed it as his accomplishment.

Everybody knows that these squatter shanties were removed from the riverbank way back in the late 90s as part of the Iloilo River improvement project of Senator Franklin Drilon. The occupants were relocated to a village in Pavia, Iloilo. Mabilog was not yet in public office. And the improvement of the place was also upon the instance of Drilon one or two years after the structures were removed.

In short, Mabilog claimed credit for something he had nothing to do with. He shamelessly did it to project a positive image of what he had supposedly done for the Iloilo River for an upcoming international summit which Iloilo city was hosting. Such dishonesty tastes like bile, and no decent individual would consciously do it.

And so now, we see Mabilog aspiring for a lofty-sounding title as “World Mayor”. He hasn’t even started to do his job right, and he is trying to snare another false, empty, hollow title to his name.

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.

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