March 3, 2024

San Juan City Rep. Ronnie Zamora together with former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada and my late father’s cousin Horacio “Boy Morales were the founders of the “Jeep ni Erap” which launched the presidency of Erap under the Partido Ng Masang Pilipino.
Rep. Ronnie was the minority floor leader when I was a House member. He was a brilliant legislator who did not yield to concessions of the Lakas-dominated Congress.
He was one of those who urged me to run for public office and foolish as I was, took his advice.
He had a house at Paterno Street. Hollow blocks lang ang pagitan with that of Erap’s house where we would sip red wine and gobble Erap’s favorite bacalao.
When Panfilo Lacson was starting out in his Senate bid after saying “I hate politics,” it was Ronnie and his clan who helped him, even lending one of the units of the family-owned Security Bank building in Makati as Ping’s office-cum safe house with Raymond Burgos at the helm.
Those were the good times before the “break-up.” Politics broke the long-time friendship between the Zamoras and the Estradas especially when Ronnie’s son, Francisco Javier, became the mayor of San Juan breaking the latter’s decade’s grip over the city.
Why bring it up now? Just connecting the dots in my naughty mind. The younger Zamora and his entourage of six cars, 18 people – five of them policemen violated the city’s health protocols. Pwede naman pala mag-request ng home service na “triage” sa local government.
Initially, the stand was dura lex sed lex. Apply the law whoever and whatever, like those common Baguio Juan de la Cruz arrested and prosecuted for curfew, not wearing a mask, no quarantine pass-no special treatment. Baguio peeps were outraged resulting in a petition that gathered 10,000 signatures to declare him persona-non-grata for his violation of quarantine rules.
Then the SJ mayor apologized and the initial hard stance to implement the law no matter who you are vanished, coupled with a plea for understanding. Pfffffft went the spin doctor’s “healing as one” dictum.
Unfortunately for the police escorts, they became the sacrificial lambs who have been relieved, charged and probably discharged for doing their job as ordered by their superior.
As Apache chief Bong says “Command responsibility mayor. Man up!” So, faced with prosecution for violating the Bayanihan Law, although it expired June 5, one of the grounds now for dismissing criminal and administrative liability is public apology, ay Apo! Us lawyers adhere to the Latin maxim Stare decisis et non quieta movere, “To stand by that which is decided.” Simply put, it binds courts to follow legal precedents set by previous decisions. The “call a friend” of the game show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” remains effective pala.
In another front, George Floyd caused a stir in the United States which caused a bedlam more than the Covid-19. The issue on racism has never stopped. Great leaders like Martin Luther King and even Abraham Lincoln fought for equality yet “all men are equal but not the same” seemed to be the rule rather than the exception.
Former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe described it all when he said “Ra- cism will never end as long as white cars are still using black tires. Racism will never end if people still use black to symbolize bad luck and white for peace. Racism will never end if people still wear white clothes to weddings and black clothes to funerals. Racism will never end as long as those who don’t pay their bills are blacklisted and not “whitelisted.” Even while playing snooker, you haven’t won until you’ve sunk the black ball and the white ball must remain on the table. But I don’t care (about racism) as long as I’m still using white toilet paper to wipe my black butt. I’m fine.” Touche!
What is sad is that legitimate grievances gave the opportunity for lawlessness resulting in destruction to property, injuries, and further death. While insurance can pay the cost of the goods, the images of anarchy never heals the wounds that for centuries have been in their midst.
Freedom Day, one of the most significant dates in our history is the commemoration of our 122nd Independence Day last Friday marking our nation’s independence from the Spanish rule on June 12, 1898. It came and went with the pandemic scare with no one noticing. Real freedom would be when we are finally Covid-19 free. Sigh!