"These politicians have betrayed the very essence of public service for power."
How much is enough? How low can some politicians go just to ensure victory?
Before the year 2018 ended, leading Daraga, Albay mayoralty candidate, Ako Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe and his security aide was gunned down. Not surprisingly, the suspect tagged in the gruesome killing was no less than his political rival.
Merely four days before the election period commenced, which meant among other things, a ban on appointment and transfer of assignments of government personnel, Acting Eastern Samar Governor Marcelo Ferdinand Picardal issued a memorandum, tranferring 156 regular employees including hospital workers and officials to other field of assignments.
According to provincial employees, among those who were reassigned were a laundry worker in a hospital who was moved to a far-flung hospital and a lowly employee to a hospital which is closed.
To top it all, one employee, Arianne Faye Cabel, who had just reported back to work after giving birth through caesarian section, was transferred from Felipe Abrigo Memorial Hospital, Guiuan to Taft District Hospital, some 300 kilometers away from her residence.
Thus, she has to take a 300-kilometer ride each day to and from work via public utility jeepney, to the detriment her fragile condition.
Their crime: They are supposedly identified in one way or another with Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, who will be slugging it out with Picardal for the province’s gubernatorial post this coming May.
But even assuming they are indeed supporters of Evardone, does that justify the transfer of those employees to far-flung areas where travel time alone would eat most of their time they could have instead used in service to the people?
Even Evardone could not believe that his former partymate could resort to such “dirty politicking.”
“This is first time in the history of Eastern Samar that a massive illegal, immoral, anti-people and anti-family movement of Capitol employees has happened. There is no other reason for this harassment and intimidation but politics,” Evardone laments.
“One of the victims is a lowly employee who just gave birth who assigned to a hospital 11 towns away from her place,” he adds, referring to Cabel’s case.
The employees themselves are so disgusted with Picardal’s action saying that since he and Evardone used to be on the same side, they had also thrown their support for him before.
“We also campaigned and supported his [Picardal’s] candidacy as he was then a part of Team Evardone. Has he now forgotten this?” an employee asks.
Picardal cannot hide the motives his move behind the tapestry of the so-called “exigency of public service.”
The timing of the transfer was highly dubious because they were done just a few days before the election ban. He could have done that even last year. The exigency or urgency did not occur just overnight.
Picardal’s action, Evardone said, was clearly inhuman.
And Evardone hit it right when he called on the Civil Service Commission to reverse Picardal’s order. And aside from filing a resolution calling for an investigation in aid of legislation regarding the Acting Governor’s action, Evardone also called on the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Office of the President to investigate Picardal and his “immoral act.”
Unlike in the Batocabe case, Picardal might not have ordered the killing of anyone. But transferring those employees to far-flung areas to the detriment of their health, meager income and their families, he surely is killing them slowly.
These politicians have ceased to be leaders of their constituents. They have betrayed the very essence of public service for power. And as such, they will stop at nothing in the name of their most coveted political post.
They should be stopped. They should not be allowed to stay in public office. Not a day longer.