Monday, January 15, 2007

Ombudsman Dismisses Iloilo Governor

There were two big stories in Iloilo over the weekend. First was the announcement of former 1st District Representative (now Philcoa head) Oca Garin that he is supporting Governor Niel Tupas' reelection. Second, the dismissal of Governor Tupas for malversation (read news reports here, here and here). In his blog, Boy Mejorada, Iloilo Provincial Administrator and trusted aide of Tupas, points to Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez as the one behind the Ombudsman decision. Secretary Gonzalez denies his accusation .

Oca Garin's announcement took everyone in Iloilo by surprise because he was seen as a strong GMA ally in the province. Moreover, Garin ran for governor and lost to Tupas in the last elections and people thought that he is still sore at Manong Niel for the loss. Although he supported Erap in 1998 and FPJ in 2004, Garin somehow managed to be in the good graces of MalacaƱang and was even appointed to head the Philippine Coconut Authority. Garin's political "judgment call," made just days before Tupas' dismissal order came out, may prove costly for him and his family. Manong Oca may very well lose his Philcoa post. His children, Richard (who is currently Mayor of Guimbal, Iloilo) and Janet (currently Congresswoman) who are running for Vice Governor and 1st district Representative respectively, may lose administration support this May 2007 elections. So will his wife Nimfa, who is currently the Mayor of San Joaquin, Iloilo.

Earlier, there were rumors that Governor Tupas will be dismissed from office but no one particularly paid serious attention to it. Note that Tupas is being "dismissed," not only "suspended" from public office and if found guilty, may be barred perpetually from holding any government post. To prevent his ouster, Tupas' supporters are currently massing up at the Provincial Capitol to protect their idol thru "people power" but unless his people can get a TRO from the Court of Appeals (ala Binay), I don't think his supporters can hold off indefinitely and prevent DILG officials from implementing the order.

It is quite unfortunate that the Ombudsman had to time the release of Tupas' dismissal order during the Dinagyang Festival when there are many visitors arriving in Iloilo. Now, the impression tourists will get is that Iloilo politics is magamo (magulo). But on the other hand, politics in this country really is magamo so what the heck, let them think that way. It cannot be helped. But I just hope that everyone will just keep their cool so that no untoward incident will happen in the Capitol.

By the way, the Guardian has this interesting news item today: "Dinagyang to Generate 28 Truckloads of Garbage."

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