Councilor Hero Bautista of Quezon City has finally admitted that he is the city official who tested positive for drug use more than a week ago. More specifically, the councilor said that he had been using shabu and marijuana. Bautista also claimed that although he used drugs, he was a victim of the drug menace. For whatever it was worth, Bautista suggested to the city council that drug testing should be given a new label—illegal substance abuse intake checking. Good grief!
Days earlier, word already got around that Councilor Bautista flunked the drug test. Even the news media learned of the incident. Evidently, the admission was made to pre-empt a more embarrassing public exposé by national authorities including President Rodrigo Duterte himself.
Hero Bautista is the younger brother of incumbent Quezon City Mayor and ex-film actor Herbert “Bistek” Bautista of the abusive Liberal Party (LP) of former President Benigno Aquino III and ex-House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. Although Hero Bautista is a first-time councilor, he was given the chairmanship of the city council’s powerful committee on public works and infrastructure. Analysts attribute his quick rise to power and influence to his brother. That idea is not far-fetched because Quezon City is known for political dynasties.
About a week ago, Mayor Bautista hinted to the public that his councilor-brother did, indeed, fail the drug test for Quezon City officials. This probably prompted the councilor to insist to the news media that his brother—the mayor—was not protecting him. Demonstrating a twisted sense of logic, the councilor stressed that he was the one protecting his brother.
Right after the long-belated admission, Councilor Bautista declared that he was going on an indefinite leave from public office to undergo rehabilitation. Joy Belmonte, the city vice mayor, announced that the city council will appoint a “caretaker” for the public works and infrastructure committee headed by the troubled alderman. While undergoing rehabilitation, the status of the councilor as an elected city official will be decided upon by his brother.
If the Bautista brothers think they can get away with this scandal easily, they are mistaken. That is, unless, they also believe that the Filipino people, and not just the taxpayers of Quezon City, are easily fooled.
The effects of shabu and marijuana consumption are difficult to conceal from public view, especially over an extended period. It is manifested in the addict’s eyes, speech, and general composure. How come nobody noticed this in Councilor Bautista weeks prior to the drug test?
More importantly, how did the councilor get away with narcotics abuse right under the nose of his own brother, the mayor? As brothers holding office in the same city hall, the mayor ought to have known about the councilor’s illegal habit.
How long has the councilor been hooked on drugs anyway? Was he already a user when he ran for city councilor last May? He ran under the administration party. Doesn’t the LP screen its candidates for drug use and dependence?
How can the city government fight drug abuse in its territory when its local legislator, one who has very close ties to the seat of power in the city, is deep into drugs? Mayor Bautista should resign because of this scandal.
Where did the councilor get his supply of shabu and marijuana? Are there others involved with the councilor? Is the councilor a user or a supplier? The anti-drug operatives of the Philippine National Police must press the councilor for some categorical answers if the drug menace, as the councilor calls it, is to be stopped in Quezon City.
It appears that Councilor Bautista short-changed the people of his city when he ran for office. A city councilor is not expected to just enact local legislation; they are also expected to comply with the law, and the law prohibits the use of prohibited drugs. Councilor Bautista was supposed to be an example to the youth, but he turned out to be big disappointment. Going on leave is not enough to make up for the affront to the dignity of public office he committed. Councilor Bautista should resign from the city council, and resign immediately.
The councilor’s allegation that he is a victim of the drug menace is self-serving. Since it’s either that or he’s into the illicit trade, he has no choice but to claim that he is a victim. Anyway, whether the story is true or not is beside the point. Councilor Bautista is unfit for public office, period. His resignation is in order.
There is no need to appoint a caretaker to substitute for Councilor Bautista while he undergoes rehabilitation. His resignation will give way to a new, and hopefully, more deserving official. Besides, why should public office be made to wait for him while he undergoes rehabilitation? Public officials hooked on drugs have no vested right to public office.
In August 2014, a Chinese national was arrested for possession of 50 kilograms of shabu in a buy-bust operation at a commercial arcade near the Philcoa area in Quezon City. A TV news footage of the incident showed the alien inside his vehicle with Mayor Bautista interrogating him from right outside the vehicle window. When the alien failed to reply apparently because he did not understand English or Pilipino, the mayor hit the alien on the face and the head. This was seen on nationwide TV.
In a clumsy attempt at damage control, the mayor’s sycophants insinuated that the alien deserved the rough treatment for his involvement in the narcotics trade.
Two years later, the shoe is on the other foot. How is the mayor going to deal with his brother now?
City hall says the mayor will decide on the status of his brother. Since filial piety forbids brother from ruling against brother, the decent option for both mayor and councilor is for them to resign immediately. Quezon City deserves nothing less.