Sunday, May 09, 2010

A City Held Hostage

As things are going, Manny Villar's presidential run maybe over. In fact, the specter of losing even his hometown of Las Piñas is highly possible. The once formidable Villars could be losing their grip. It's somehow their fault as their base, the informal settlers of the city has dwindled in number and those who remain have discovered how "unnecessary" their existence is to the Villars. Alas, some form of persuasion is needed to get their influence back.

The majority of homeowners of the different villages and subdivisions in Las Piñas never liked the Villars. If not for their base, the Villars wouldn't win in the city. The residents of Philam Life is rabidly anit-Villar. In fact, coercion and intimidation is the name of the game. Any household who bares any form of support for Noynoy Aquino will have to deal with uncollected garbage. Stores which hang yellow ribbons or banners of Noy-Mar are threatened with with closure. But the Villars and Aguilars have upped the ante. They are now wooing the house-help, drivers of both private and public transports and the remaining informal settlers.

Last Sunday, May 2, drivers and house-help of Philam were approached by Villar coordinators and asked to sign up and invited to a meeting the following day. May 3 at around 4pm, they went to the covered court of Remarville (a village beside Philam) where the daughter of incumbent Las Piñas mayor Nene Aguilar was there to meet them. April Aguilar then started her short talk. This is how the event was told to me by one of those present.

"Sabihan niyo na ang mga amo niyo, lahat ng di bobot ko Manny Villar ay di bibigyan ng Friendship Sticker(this is the sticker given to all car-owners of the city as a pass to enter the other subdivisions in Las Piñas). Hindi sila tatanggap ng kahit anong sebisyo mula sa munisipyo. Lahat ng may negosyo ay di bibigyan ng permit o lisensya. Kung may pending papers or documents for release ay sisiguraduhin naming matatagal ilabas. Alam namin kung sinu-sino sila at kung sino ang kanilang iboboto kaya di sila makaligatas. Ayaw ko na sarili niyang lugar ay matalo si Manny Villar. Nakakahiya ito pag nangyari."

Warn your employers, everyone who will not vote for Manny Villar will not be issued Friendship Stickers. They will not be extended any service from the city hall (i.e. medical, garbage collection or other social services) . Those applying for business permits or licenses will be denied. We will make sure that those whose papers or documents are pending release will wait a very long time. We know who they are and who they will vote for and they cannot escape us. I don't want Manny Villar to lose in his hometown. This will be very embarrassing.

After her speech, those who attended, around twenty of them, were fed with Minute Burger and Zesto Juice. Another meeting like this took place a day after. This time around, poor folks and tricycle drivers were invited. Around 700 attended. The same stern warning was issued and were also fed afterwards. In both meetings, all attendees were given P400 each. I was able to interview a tricycle driver yesterday. I teased him about the check sticker (Villar's campaign logo) on his trike. I even offered him a yellow ribbon. He politely declined and said, "Gusto ko po pang makapag-trabaho (I still want to work)."

Sadly, not one of those whom I inteviewed is willing to come out officially. They are all afraid of the Villars and Aguilars. So this is what is happening in the little city of Las Piñas. Coercion and intimidation is the norm. Last March, persons wearing orange shirts and claiming to be local Comelec officials went house to house asking how many voters are there in every house. Will the elections in Las Pinas be clean? Will intimidation get to the nerves of the voters and allow themselves to be used in cheating? This is an example of traditional politics at its purest.

To the Villars and Aguilars, you may own 3/4ths of the city but you don't own the people of Las Piñas. Your little kingdom will someday crumble too. Your goons and gold cannot subvert the people's will. Isn't the wealth you now possess enough? Mahiya naman kayo, hindi kayo mga diyos!