Friday, June 01, 2007

When Being Good is not Enough

"Doing what is right, moral and legal sometimes prejudices your political career," said outgoing vice mayor William Ablong. And he adds: "If you stand for what is right, you will become a villain."

Is there any way to mask the bitterness behind those words? For Ablong, an uncompromising man who paints the world in black and white, it wasn't simply an electoral defeat but a moral one as well. With "tigbakay" and lotto as central campaign issues, it seems that Dumaguete has chosen to go in the direction that Ablong wanted to take it.

William Ablong is a good man and I am sad to see him go. But at the same time, I can't help but think that his loss is partly one of his own doing. By choosing to focus on negative issues instead of positive ones, Ablong allowed his rival to dictate the terms of the engagement.

Unfortunately, this is the critical flaw in Ablong's public personality. His is cast in the mold of a puritanical zealot. As H.L. Mencken says, "someone who is desperately afraid that, somewhere, someone is having a good time." Ablong seems far too concerned with the Old Testament's "Thou shalt not..." than with the New Testament's "Blessed are they who...."

DumagueteƱos have many concerns and they exceed the narrow limits of cockfighting and lotto. Perhaps Ablong should step back a bit and see the bigger picture. Has he considered that his loss might not be a reflection of Dumaguete's moral choice but its appraisal of the city administration's performance over the past six years?

City government, I contend, has been less than stellar in the execution of its obligations to the citizens. The long laundry list has been brought out often enough, and I will not repeat it here. True, we've finally seen some headway in new roads and the waste water treatment facility (a project of Ablong's), but to come so close to the end, it's too little too late.

Consider, too, how proactive stance might have affected the gambling issue. Gambling, for its intrinsic evil, is both entertainment and economic activity. What might have been done if, during the last term, the city government had taken positive steps to promote alternative -- and moral -- outlets, e.g., sports? Could this not have been an effective counterpoints, and possibly winning campaign platforms?

In a fit of pique, Ablong has said that he might consider quitting politics altogether. I think that he should reconsider. He is a virtuous man, and that's a rare commodity in our realm. In the meantime, though, he would probably do well to meditate on Matthew 10:16.

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