“No Person other than a Rider may use a whip on a horse, or otherwise strike it in any way, while it is under the control of the Starter before and during the start of any race… The Starter is there to ensure that each race begins on time and as fairly as possible, with each horse and rider given the greatest possible opportunity to perform well.” British Horse Racing Authority, Rules of Racing
“No Rules Barred”
It is election season alright, but we are still at a distance to the starting line. The Comelec has rued that, unlike horse racing, it is powerless to crack the whip on members of one family running simultaneously in the coming elections in the absence of an anti-dynasty ban law; and it could not stop the early campaigners because while there is Fair Elections Act, the Supreme Court has not found anything wrong in premature campaigns.
Except with some esoteric election rules like bet switching and interrupted terms, what we see is a no-holds-barred democratic contest as archaic as when one Rafael Lacson of Negros Occidental and one Floro Crisologo of Ilocos Sur ruled their turfs. In other words, nothing much has happened this last 60 years.
In the May, 2010 elections, the Suarez dynasty allied with the Talaga-Enverga and Alcala together with Tanada dynasties to depose the sitting governor, Raffy Nantes of Quezon. They were wary that had Nantes won standing alone and without their visible support, their political future may go awry. It simply disgusts them to queue before the throne of the sitting governor.
With the old man Danny Suarez conducting the orchestra, he prevailed upon the Talaga and Alcala patriarchs to observe a transient cease fire. They were ordered to redirect their bayonets previously poised against each other and train them towards their common enemy: the late governor .
May, 2010 Elections
The ad hoc alliance was a work of genius attributable to the old man Suarez. With logistics virtually oozing from Suarez’s ears, grey matters sometimes inhabit the hollow craniums of nincompoops, thanks to the electoral generals of GMA who was fortifying the planks of the ex-President who was eyeing a seat in the Lower House.
Cash flooded the First District to prop up the former Secretary of Justice. Suarez used Agnes Devanadera as money magnet from the Palace with what purports to be an upset win against the sitting congressman scion of Willie Enverga ensuring a body shield in Congress.
With a Memorandum shot with grammatical errors, Suarez begged for somewhere near a billion pesos from the running scared tenant of Malacanang. With a good hand, he was successful for exploiting her fear to the hilt. Liquid at last, the old man embarked in an unprecedented vote buying helped by his newfound pals; and caballed the drug-lord-importer scenario to demolish Nantes who played by the rules of the old gentlemen.
Dynasties vs. Nantes
A false news report of a drug cache seizure in Burdeos by a PDEA initiated raid led to the Bishop homily in St. Ferdinand Cathedral in Lucena City. Both events were picked up by Talaga’s favorite correspondent within twenty four hours before elections and reported it at the Inquirer. Nantes was caught flatfooted, unable to collect his lonesome thoughts preoccupied by sycophants and religious pastors within the mold of those surrounding Manny Pacquiao before his bouts with Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez.
In 7 days, Nantes who was resoundingly trashed by the Suarezes by 65,000 votes was dead in a chopper crash. At long last, the old man Suarez has put his family on the political map of Quezon as the family to beat henceforth. It is all in the scheming. The Nantes template spelled victory to the Suarez family and it is etched in the amygdala of the patriarch. He believes nothing is wrong if he paid an encore to this architecture against the Alcalas in May, 2013..
Just afar from the starting line where the Alcala horses are now flocking in, Ramon Talaga, a Suarez gofer, comes armed with a whip and flailing every which way towards the direction of their adversaries to the consternation of the Starter, the Comelec. Resurrecting alleged misapplication of public funds funneled to a La Union cooperative in 2007 yet, Talaga laid the basis of a demolition contract against the Secretary of Agriculture Procy Alcala. A Manila Times news item reported,
In a seven-page letter to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, complainant Ramon Talaga Jr. accused the cabinet member of releasing P3.5 million from the priority development assistance fund which did not reach the hands of the supposed farmer beneficiaries. Talaga said that in 2008, Alcala earmarked P3.5 million from his pork barrel to support Spade.
The cash was intended to provide livelihood assistance to 65 marginalized families of the second district of Quezon. Talaga however accused the former lawmaker that despite a liquidation report wherein the families received P50,000 each, the fund did not land in the hands of the farmers.
“Contrary to its avowed purpose of the activity, the government fund used thereon never reached most, if not all, of the named beneficiaries,” the complaint read. Talaga said that there were a number of farmers who denied receiving the cash and the alleged signatures that reflected with their names on disbursement vouchers.
“They [farmers] are concerned that their names were not only misued by Mr. Alcala for his criminal purposes, they also will be required to pay back sums of they never received for a loan,” the affidavit showed.
A total of 16 affidavits from listed beneficiaries who purportedly did not receive cash were attached to the complaint.
As if on cue, the Minority Floor Leader demanded the immediate relief of the Secretary of Agriculture:
Secretary Proceso Alcala of the Department of Agriculture should voluntarily take a leave of absence amid the P3.5-million graft charges filed against him and the misuse of the coco levy funds, the House Minority bloc said on Wednesday.
Rep. Danilo Suarez of Quezon province, a House minority leader, was referring to the graft case filed by former mayor Ramon Talaga of Lucena City before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Talaga accused Alcala of funneling P3.5 million worth of his Priority Development Assistance Fund as a Quezon lawmaker in 2008, to a certain Pelagio Alcantara of a Development Foundation, which services Ilocanos. Based on Talaga’s complaint, 65 farmers were supposed to receive P50,000 each, but this amount never reached the hands of the farmers. Worse, the farmers were even made to pay back the loan. “He should voluntarily take a leave of absence. We are talking about the farmers in his district and the [graft] complaint had the documents that the farmers received P50,000, when in fact they did not. These documents are fake. His case is not only graft. This is also falsification of public documents,” Suarez said in an interview.
“I highly doubt that President [Benigno Aquino 3rd] would have appointed the incumbent Agriculture secretary to his post had he known about this incident. We’ll wait on what the President will do with his ally and I hope that something drastic will happen for the sake of our farmers and our agricultural sector,” Suarez pointed out.
By hitting on the Alcala patriarch, the Suarez patriarch is chopping in the process the gubernatorial candidacy of Irvin Alcala, the son of the Secretary as well. Of course, the graft charges are fodder to regular muckraking the electorate encounter every election season and are useful against the electoral runs of Kulit Alcala as second congressional bet ranged against former Mayor Barbary Ruby Talaga; the sitting Mayor Dondon Alcala pitted against the complainant Ramon himself; and a host of others invariably opposed by the Talagas and the Suarezes.
It was a hit and it became a battle cry by the Suarezes and the Tanadas against the lonely crusade of the late Nantes last elections. Atop any entablado, we expect the perorations of Governor Jayjay Suarez addressing his erstwhile ally, Procy Alcala, “Secretary Procy, balita naming namudmod ka ng P50,000.00 kada magsasaka sa Quezon. Subalit marami sa kanila’y tumangging tumanggap mula sa iyo. Aba’y nasaan na Secretary? BAWASI!!!”
Ironically, it was the Secretary who used that word “BAWASI” in the May 2010 elections when he criticized the deceased Governor Nantes when the latter distributed hundreds of Karaoke Machines to selected barangays which according to Alcala were patently overpriced.
The Alcalas now are at the receiving end. The Suarezes actually initiated potshots against the Alcalas to the delight of the Talagas when a relative of the Alcalas, Jun Lontok of Dolores, died in the infamous Atimonan Massacre on January 6, 2013. Danny Suarez described Lontok as the moneybag of the Alcalas in so far as Jueteng is concerned. True enough, what the NBI gathered as the prime motive in the shoot-out was control of illegal gambling in Laguna between Vic Siman of Calamba who died in the incident along with Lontok and eleven others on one hand and the patron of Hansel Marantan, Senen Tita Dinglasan on the other.
The attribution brought immediate retort from the camp of Alcala denying any illegal gambling connection with the Simans. But an opening gambit has been cracked by the Suarezes. The Lontok affair will be tied with that of the recent malversation charges before the Ombudsman and the intensity of the attack will crescendo before the elections in May 13, 2013.
Will the Tanadas Toe the Line?
The old man Suarez is not convinced that the Tanadas will go for broke for the Alcalas in the fourth district. While they have adopted Dr. Helen Tan, a formidable congressional bet who has laid down unsinkable support foundation in the fourth district, just like Aesop’s covetous dog, the old man Suarez wants the tacit support of Bobby Tanada as well. The Tanada patriarch is a top honcho in the Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF). The Talaga complaint has as indirect shrift against the Tanadas in what Suarez termed as mindless importation of Indonesian Palm Oil to the detriment of coconut farmers. In the same media assault, Suarez warned the Tanadas:
Considering Alcala’s apparent brushes with fraud, Suarez said that the public should not be surprised with the Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF), the government agency charged with managing the coco levy fund for the benefit of the farmers, is being spent on imports rather than developing the country’s coconut industry.
The CIIF, Suarez disclosed, owns, if not substantially, several oil mills, which include the Legaspi Oil Co. Inc., San Pablo Manufacturing Corp. and Cagayan de Oro Oil Co.—three entities, which imported 11,721,069 kilograms of Mitra cooking oil from Indonesia, worth P631 million from 2011 to 2012 per the records of the Bureau of Customs.
“How do these CIIF-owned coconut milling companies explain the fact that instead of producing locally sourced palm oil, they instead opted to import palm oil that would directly compete with the locally produced products? Our government institutions have turned against our own coconut farmers,” Suarez argued.
“The sincerity of the Agriculture secretary with regard to the plight of farmers is now seriously in question,” Suarez added in closing.
Of course the Alcalas will not take the criminal charges and their media accounts sitting down. They have already gained control of the Lucena City Hall and in reaction to the graft charges of Talaga patriarch have crafted complaint sheets of criminal plunder before the Ombudsman. Last Thursday, February 7, 2013, the legal mind of Mayor Dondon Alcala, Lawyer Boyet Alejandrino, has dug up piles of incriminating fund misuse against the Talaga couple and their children. Criminal indictments against the Talagas were bound over to the Office of the Ombudsman. Tit for tat.
The barber at the corner of Merchan Street has this to say in the ongoing skirmish, “sa kampanya magkakasama ang pamilya. Ang pondo ng Bayan, akala mo kanila. Pagnademanda, magkakasama rin sila. Sana ‘pag nakulong, para makatipid ang Bayan, magsama sana sila sa isang selda.”
Roorback is a term where one narrator makes a false or invented account of the subject of the written report injurious to the latter’s reputation, after Baron von Roorback, imaginary author of Roorback’s Tour Through the Western and Southern States, from which a passage was purportedly quoted in an attempt to disparage presidential candidate James K. Polk in 1844.
This is one of those great eponymous words, more commonly spelled roorback or roorbach, and meaning (according to the Random House Dictionary of the English Language): “a false and more or less damaging report circulated for political effect.” It derives from Baron Van Roorback, “pretended traveler in whose alleged book of his experiences in the US occurred an account of an incident damaging to the character of President Polk.” (Katharine Graham’s WASHINGTON (2002) p. 25)
The old man Suarez, for all his faults, is an expert on roorback. By simply dropping over a course of time what appear to be innocuous descriptions of a political opponent may in the long run be magnified and the bits and pieces assembled in an opportune time as a guillotine ready to cut heads never to be heard again.
On the other hand, the Alcalas are known hereabouts to call a spade a spade. Atty. Vic Joyas the Suarezes’ consigliere is all much aware of this reputation.
These, by the way, are all figures of speech.