"To err is human. To blame someone else is politics."
--Hubert H. Humphrey
By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY -- I will bet my last centavo.
Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog will wrap up the political "championship" after the smoke has been cleared.
The latest Ombudsman verdict dismissing him "for failing to explain an increase in his wealth of nearly P9 million within a year" could not be considered yet as a KO defeat.
Since it can still be appealed (and there are strong chances it will be reversed if not nipped in the bud by the higher courts), it could be treated only as a knockdown.
In boxing, Mabilog had been knocked down; but he was not knocked out!
If he can survive the mandatory eight count, blooded and bruised Mabilog can still pummel his foe like Joe Louis, who reversed the KO lost to Max Schmeling in a brutal world heavyweight championship revenge in 1938.
The Russians have written off Bobby Fischer when the American genius forfeited his first two games in favor of defending world chess champion Borris Spassky in Reykjavik in 1972.
An edge of two points in a chess title clash was considered then as "quivalent to wrapping up the title."
Alas, when the smoke was cleared, Fischer toppled Spassky, 12.5-8.5, and ended the era of Russian dominance in chess.
In throwing the books on Mabilog, graft investigator Rachel Cariaga-Farila stressed, to wit: “Simply, his (Mabilog) failure to properly account or explain his sources of income establishes the presence of malicious intent to conceal the truth, causing grave prejudice to the government in the amount of P8,981,082.52,” read part of the Ombudsman decision.
“Hence, respondent is found guilty of serious dishonesty and meted the supreme penalty of dismissal from the service, pursuant to Rule 10, Section 46 (A) of the Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service."
Take note that Mabilog's fault was his "failure" to account for the increase of his wealth.
It's a technical matter that should be tackled by his legal team led by spokesman, Atty. Mark Piad, during the appeal.
His "guilt" was not based on overwhelming evidence of actual "stealing" of taxpayers money like in the case of certain fraudulent government projects were taxpayers' money was deliberately stolen by corrupt public officials through rigged biddings, substandard deliveries, ghost projects, and under-the-table deals.
In other words, there's no solid proof showing that Mabilog enriched himself in office by stealing the people's money.
There's wisdom in the judicial process though, and it's too premature to write off Mabilog politically.
He could still survive this legal setback if he goes to the Court of Appeals and, if necessary, in the Supreme Court.
Mabilog can still bounce back from a series of misfortunes that recently turned his world upside down, and spring back to political life with a fire and brimstone like Achilles, who killed Trojan hero Hector outside the gates of Troy, before being shot in the heel by Paris.
Sympathetic Ilonggos who have seen him and his family agonize over trumped up charges and false allegations these past months will have the final say during election time.
Never underestimate a wounded tiger.
We don't fault the Ombudsman. We don't fault former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada for filing the complaint against Mabilog in the Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman was only doing its job. Mejorada, like any Filipino citizen, has the right to file a complaint against any public official.
Every public servant, including Mabilog, should be open to formal complaints in relation to his job as a public official; and undergo the legal process like the one undertaken by Ombudsman on Mabilog or any elected and appointed public official in the Philippines for that matter.
We have the court to decide on the matter.
This is how democracy works.