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Paranoia of Power and the Next Naga Mayor: John or Jess Bongat?

One great lesson our 1986 EDSA Revolution taught us is that power should not be held too long or it will lead to paranoia and stifle genuine democratic development. Thus, our Constitution provided for term limits. Indeed, the ultimate test of leadership is letting go of power as Cory Aquino did even when she was legally qualified to run again.

But then, there are always the "ganid," "toso" and the "maabilidad". Thus, we have those who after "graduation", prop up their spouses or children or lapdogs as dummies and thereafter reclaim their former positions for yet another 3-term serpentine grip on power.

And it is sad to see that we have one of such kind in our beloved Naga. Robredo was first mayor for three consecutive terms from 1988-1998. But in 1998, he put up Cho Roco as puppet successor. Then in 2001, he reclaimed his post and has been there to date.

Not surprisingly, as Robredo prepared to "graduate" again, he has been paranoid about questions into his record like the failing mark of his administration in the international credit rating by Standard and Poor's. He did not even spare the academic convention on patronage politics held in Ateneo last January in his egghead efforts to clamp down on any criticism of his tenure if not "well-meant" as he wants to define it. Robredo gallingly accused the Ateneo of purportedly allowing "itself to be used by certain parties who have an axe to grind against me and my administration."

Anyhow, can Robredo be mayor again in 2013? This will depend on who will win among our present candidates and how that winner would run City Hall. Notably, of the five contenders, that is, John Bongat, Adan Botor, Erik Olea, Louie Ortega, and Cho Roco, it is John who is most qualified and also most likely to win.

Like many Nagueños, I have great personal respect for John given his sterling qualifications and sincerity in service. He was a consistent honor student in Naga Parochial School. He went on to Ateneo de Naga for high school, and then took up political science at the Ateneo de Manila, and finally law at the UP College of Law.

When John ran for councilor in 2001, he actually won on his own name even if he was on Robredo's ticket. He has been re-elected twice for his dedicated work as seen in the ordinances that he has authored especially on peace and order.

But the big question mark is: Will John be his own man? Or, will he be like Cho before, a puppet mayor-like a work horse with Jess riding on top, whipping his back or pulling the reins for wherever Jess wants him to go including letting Jess seat as mayor again in 2013?

I do pray that I will be voting for John Bongat, and John alone. Godspeed!