Disturb the wrong doers

Much of the energy and drive I have for exposing corruption and filing cases against those involved come from the sermons I hear from Sunday masses.

Last Sunday, we heard mass at the St. Clement’s Church in Lapaz presided over by Fr. Bing Simacio and I particularly found strength in his sermon on the Gospel from Luke 12:49-53. He spoke about the seeming contradiction between the statements of Jesus Christ about peace. In the Gospel, Jesus said: “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”

Fr. Simacio put this in the context of what is happening in our society nowadays, especially with the problem on corruption and illegal drugs. Peace is not about avoiding conflict when it means just keeping quiet about the wrongs that happen around us. We can only achieve genuine peace with God if we give testimony to His Words. We lose that opportunity when we “preserve peace” by just letting wrongs go unchallenged.

“Disturb the wrongdoers,” Fr. Simacio said. We fulfill God’s mission for us by helping expose the corrupt and confront them about what they are doing.

Those words gave them another dose of strength and energy. I came from Church with renewed sense of purpose and felt reinforced. This is the same feeling I always get when I listen to the sermons of Fr. Boboy Palencia at the Sto. Niño Sur Mission Chapel at SM Delgado.

An enemy from within

There’s no mistaking the fact that the battle against illegal drugs is as difficult as repulsing a foreign invader, or even harder.
That’s because the enemy is hard to detect. The pusher is not just the street pug that was the stereotype in the past. Now even a public school teacher has been caught selling drugs. Barangay officials, too, have been nabbed in buy-bust operations. They are like the Vietcong whom the Americans had to fight half a century ago in the ricefields of Vietnam: by day ordinary farmers, by night fierce warriors.
We have to accept the reality that this battle can be waged in a rule of law setting. As we have seen time and again, drug lords and pushers can afford the best legal minds to defend them in court. And even in jail, they continue to run the illegal drugs trade with impunity.
For this alone, I am prepared to see President Duterte do it with brute force. Of course, he just has to be cautioned not to waste human lives. Just the same, the authorities should not hesitate to use force when it is deemed necessary.

Mabilog is unrepentant about drug lord liaisons

The inclusion of Jed Patrick E. Mabilog among the local chief executives revealed by no less than President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte as a drug lord protector didn’t come to most Ilonggos as a surprise. It was public knowledge for the last six years. The local media has been vocal about it. One of the known drug lords, Jing Jing Espinosa, even liked to post pictures of him and Mabilog on his social media account.

Still, the announcement when it came was cataclysmic. It shook the entire Iloilo City! For those who have known about it for a long time, it was a moment of liberation, and celebration. For critics of Mabilog, it was vindication. But there are still legions of loyal political supporters of Mabilog who insisted that Mabilog is clean.

The day after President Duterte revealed the names in a midnight speech, barangay captains in Iloilo City — supposedly acting upon the instructions of Mabilog — organized a small rally to manifest their support for him. In the Iloilo City Council, Mabilog’s political allies passed a resolution expressing their unwavering support for his leadership and integrity.

In the days following the announcement, a blog post on his magnificent “White House” mansion on the banks of the Iloilo River went viral and triggered a frenzy of criticism and debate on the source of his new-found wealth. Quite a number of professionals working in the United States and Canada questioned the capability of Mrs. Ma. Victoria T. Mabilog to earn the kind of money to be able to build the mansion. The house is believed to be worth not less than P50 million.

While he was visibly stressed from the scandal that engulfed him, Mabilog reported for work on Wednesday, August 10. And the first thing he did was hold a press conference in which he talked about, among others, his friendship with Melvin Odicta and Jing Jing Espinosa, both identified by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) as drug group leaders in Iloilo City.

Mabilog press conference

Photo credit: Nestor Burgos, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Mabilog insisted there was nothing wrong with his association with Odicta and Espinosa.

He said he visited the house of Odicta during a barangay fiesta. Odicta’s brother is the barangay captain, and Mabilog said it was part of his constituency work to honor an invitation to the drug lord’s house for a fiesta. When Odicta’s mother died, Mabilog also visited the fortress-like compound to pay his respects. He consoles with constituents during their time of grief, he said, and Odicta, also known as “Dragon”, is no exception.

Far from being repentant about his closeness with Jing Jing Espinosa, Mabilog told both Iloilo and Manila media it was also part of his constituency work. Espinosa happens to be a barangay kagawad of Barangay Monica and his wife, Keith, is the barangay captain. He claims he gets invited to the barangay fiesta of Monica and other events, and he doesn’t see anything wrong going there and be photographed with Jing Jing. In a number of photographs, Mabilog is seen with Jing Jing while surrounded by heavily armed bodyguards.

But one thing that Mabilog was careful to avoid was mention he had knowledge both Odicta and Espinosa were known drug lords. The way he talked, he behaved as if the two were ordinary constituents with no known record in the illegal drugs trade. He also didn’t dwell into why he seemed to enjoy more time with them, especially in the house of Jing Jing, who is also his “kumpadre”.

Apparently, Mabilog didn’t care about the consequences of his public liaisons with known drug lords. In the past, Mabilog would often respond arrogantly to questons about his liaisons with Espinosa. There was an instance when he retorted to media, “Nonsense”, when it was suggested that his behavior was improper. Jing Jing, he said, didn’t need to submit an NBI clearance to him to become his friend.

Now that he is caught in this whirlpool of scandal, Mabilog will have nobody else to blame but himself. His problems have only been aggravated by disclosures that 21 policemen were assigned to him as bodyguards. For a city with an undermanned Police Department, the detachment of 21 policemen to secure the safety of Mabilog has drawn vicious criticism from media and the public.

It also doesn’t help Mabilog that he has lived lavishly and extravagantly. His “White House” mansion is now considered a monument of corruption. His fleet of expensive vehicles will also be taken into account as a lifestyle check is being done on him.

For many, his sudden rise to wealth couldn’t have come from legitimate income. There’s strong suspicion that the “White House” came from kickbacks and protection money from the drug lords.

Mabilog: no need to get NBI clearance for drug lord to be his friend

As early as 2012, there have been media criticism about the closeness of reputed drug lord Jesus “Jing Jing” Espinosa Jr. and City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog.

But Mabilog simply shrugged off such criticism. He never felt it was wrong for him to be photographed with Jing Jing Espinosa, who boasted about his closeness to the local chief executive in his social media account back then.

This newspaper front page speaks volumes of how Mabilog protected the drug lords of Iloilo City.

 

13nov_1 front

Portent of things to come?

A two-van convoy that was on the way to the Iloilo Airport to fetch Iloilo City mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog figured in a multiple-vehicle collision on the national highway in Pavia, Iloilo on Sunday afternoon, resulting in injuries to his bodyguards and damage to the vehicles involved.

Aksyon Radyo Iloilo reported that the accident happened when a jeepney bound for Sta. Barbara, Iloilo stopped to discharge passengers along the Benigno Aquino Jr. Ave. in Barangay Ungka II, Pavia. The lead van in the Mabilog convoy smashed into tail of the jeepney. A split-second later, the second van rammed into the rear of the first. It didn’t end there. A water tanker was unable to stop in time due to defective brakes; it plowed into the back of the second van. The impact of the collision drove both Mabilog’s vehicles forward to hit the jeepney once again. They were sandwiched.

Luckily, Mabilog’s bodyguards suffered only aching bodies as a result of the collision. Both his vans were heavily damaged.

Interestingly, one of his bodyguards hurt in the accident was surnamed “Altas”. This raised speculations that the person might be related to PDEA-identified drug lord Melvin Odicta, also known as “Dragon”. Odicta has a brother-in-law surnamed “Altas”.

The accident quickly triggered a wave of nasty comments from Ilonggos. “It’s karma,” said Joe Marie Agriam, publisher of Cream Magazine and a regional officer of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI). Others remarked that it’s a warning for Mabilog, who is tagged as a drug protector, to repent. I called it a “portent of things to come.”

What most people didn’t see here was the involvement of a water tanker in the accident.

Only recently, Mabilog figured in a controversy over the anomalous contract he awarded to a water refilling station to supply potable water to constituents in Iloilo City hard-hit by the long drought from March to May this year.

That a water tanker plowed into Mabilog’s vehicles could be viewed as a divine message for him. He tried to use the water crisis as a vehicle for corruption. On Sunday, a water tanker seems to have given Mabilog a big spanking with the collision.

Damage control

JULY 16, 2016 – In his tone and language, it became apparent to me that Iloilo City mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog is now fully aware that his days of philandering at City Hall are coming to a close. And it’s not because of corruption that Mabilog is likely to fall with a big thud. With the graft cases against him caught in the bureaucratic gridlock in the Ombudsman, Mabilog’s downfall will be caused by his close association (read: protection) with drug lords in Iloilo City.

That’s because any day now, President Digong Duterte is expected to reveal the names of 23 local chief executives that he’s found to be connected to the illegal drugs trade, primarily as protectors. Mabilog, who has never been shy about his close friendship with Jesus “Jing Jing” Espinosa Jr., is among the names being loudly mentioned in social media as being on the list.

For the last two weeks, Mabilog has embarked on an effort to repair his notoriety as a drug protector in his own city. He paid for two half-page advertisements in two big national newspapers that spoke about his so-called toughness on illegal drugs. Less than two weeks before Pres. Duterte assumed office, Mabilog staged an “Anti-drug summit” purportedly to send a strong signal that he is waging battle against illegal drugs.

But the effort failed to change the perception. In fact, it only fueled more criticism in social media that Mabilog was just trying to do damage control and persuade Pres. Duterte that his name shouldn’t be on that list. And just yesterday, Mabilog had to admit over a local radio program that his name might just indeed be on the list.

Mabilog gave a lame excuse that it’s just a case of black propaganda against him. He claimed that his track record would prove that he gave PDEA and the police logistical support, including weapons acquisition, to strengthen their fight against illegal drugs and criminality in general.

Mabilog asserted that he’s never been hooked into drugs. He’s never, not even once, toughed illegal drugs to get high, he said.

However, Mabilog seems to be aware that his half-hearted defensive posture is not enough to overturn the strong public perception that he was a coddler of drug lords. Nobody has even accused him of being a drug addict, Joe Marie Agriam, one of his staunch critics, pointed out.

Because of this, Mabilog could only articulate his plea for an investigation and due process. “I am sure there will be an investigation,” he said.

That Mabilog is now in the national spotlight because of his connections to illegal drugs could hardly be blamed on anybody else. He brought it upon himself. For several years now, Mabilog has appeared in public occasions — and everything captured on digital media — in the company of Espinosa, Jr. A kagawad in his barangay (Monica), Jing Jing has been identified by PDEA regional director Paul Ledesma as a key lieutenant of Melvin “Boyet” Odicta, Sr., also known as “Dragon”. Odicta is reportedly head of one of two drug syndicates in Iloilo City.

mag kumpareOpisina ni dabing

Jing Jing son doesnt know how to spend his money

“Can’t decide on how to spend the money”– This seems to be the message on this photo posted by Kap Dabing Espinosa on her FB page and downloaded by fellow netizens and sent over to me.

In the past, Mabilog simply brushed aside criticism that his friendship with Espinosa, and Odicta in the process, was inappropriate behavior for a public official. At one point, he even boasted that he was proud of Espinosa as his bosom friend. Mabilog has stood as godfather to one of Espinosa’s children. He often visits Barangay Monica to attend social events in the place where Jing Jing’s wife, “Dabing”, is the barangay captain.

Now that Pres. Duterte has cracked down on illegal drugs, Mabilog is caught with his pants down, so to speak. He can’t claim that the issue of his friendship with drug lords is false. Too many pictures have captured their closeness.

Each working day is now filled with anticipation. Many Ilonggos are convinced Mabilog’s name will be among the 23 mayors in the list. He is much too prominent in the illegal drugs issue that he can’t possibly wiggle his way out of it. The ghosts of the pasts are now haunting Mabilog.

 

THE POWER OF STORY TELLING

The victory of Boboy Tupas as Congressman of the 5th District of Iloilo is a demonstration that story telling is the most effective way to convey a candidate’s message to the people.
Not once did Boboy deliver a traditional political speech that was bombastic. Neither did he resort to mud slinging and below the belt attacks.
All throughout the campaign, Boboy remained humble and meek, the man who was always ready to turn the other cheek.Boboy Tupas is loved by the people
Several times, he was humiliated and insulted. His position as Vice Governor (and in some instances as Acting Governor) was disrespected. He was called names.
But Boboy never felt an urge to retaliate. He quietly accepted the blows and continued to preach core values about family, relationships, commitment to public service in stories that he told and retold.
And for the first time, Boboy put humor to good use. He was able to put his audiences at ease. He reminded them about his father, the late Governor Niel Tupas, Sr.
As I watched him go about his campaign, I felt confident as early as the last week of April that his victory was 101% certain.
That’s because Boboy gained the love and respect of the people of the 5th district of Iloilo. And not even the overwhelming resources of the administration was enough to stop his landslide victory.
At the last count with still about 10% of the votes left, he was leading his opponent, Atty. Gel Tupas, by a margin of 35,000.

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