OPINION: Short draft memoirs: Joecab at his loneliest

BY Cha Monforte

It was the day after. Jose “Joecab” Caballero was finally defeated- confirmed by humiliating election results. He was then called as phenom- for slaying big political dragons- long-reigning old Davnor politician Gregorio Dujali and he became a vice gov in the then big beautiful undivided country of Davao del Norte; next the Sarmientos- then known as an institution, first the matriarch Dona Luz, then he became the first Comval gov after Comval was separated from Davnor in 1998; next the son politico-economic heir Roger “RMS” in the 2001 gubernatorial toss up, then Joecab got his second term and went straight getting his last term without a hitch knocking off a token candidate suspected to have run for a proxy war within the unified Lakas ticket in 2004.

But for the so much heck of his organized sectors including the kabirs on dispersal binge Joecab’s camp was so much enthralled and so his formidable opposition camp was also so much enthralled of his nine-year rule characterized by a patronage-driven populist programs. They both seemed put in so overblown expectations that on one hand, Joecab got the province’s District 2 for his own congressional bid and put her daughter then Boardmember Kristine for the gubernatorial bid, while on the other hand, the unified opposition ruing against him had all but made an overkill in plugging all holes in skittish electoral campaign against Joecab’s political machinery and logistics which turned out to be only made of so much hoopla and pretensions. Joecab the phenom was overwhelmingly defeated already in the night of May 14, 2007 election day when the first rush of low turn out of votes for him and Kristine started trickling in to his Dragon headquarters. I heard that in the dead of that night his headquarters was already deserted by his lawyers, loyal followers, so-called strategists, so-called planners, so-called propagandists. I was not in the inner circle of them.

In the early morning of May 15, 2007, at around 6:00 A.M. I and Rey Castardo, also an info man, visited Dragon, and there we saw a gloomy pall of light iinside. Joecab had apparently no sleep, also with Kristine and Madam Mimi. Except for Anamei’s pretty, red-eyed PGO ladies who were sipping San Mig light beer perhaps for a drowse or juices in cans, there were already no Rey Pajarito and lots of political CAOs upstairs of Dragon, that building by the church which became the base in erecting the foundations of the Comval provincial government. There were few CAOs downstairs, but reports said the CAOs failed to deliver the goods for the liners while some of them allegedly stashed it for themselves kept pestering as gripes in the rounds. Accordingly, one had already taken an early vacation, while another one had bought a brand new motorcycle. Joecab had as mouthful on dirty politics and massive vote buying.

Seeing our presence supposed meant to troop around to empathize and give our last salute to the man who recruited us in the first place, he directed me to write a PR for ABS-CBN and the Inquirer. I hurried to write a piece from his dictates. When it was made, as usual he made corrections carefully choosing words not as a politician but more as a lawyer. Almost the journalistic PR was mangled by his own legalese words. I couldn’t do otherwise but finalized it, still fine-tuning it within journalese acceptability. And the usual of him as one abante-atras PR chief dawned again on him. He kept the PR close to his chest, reflecting. He was beaten to the draw in post-election news as a sore loser.  The final PR was never faxed to news outlets. Towards the midday when Dragon was at its loneliest, I and Rey Castardo called it quits. We hit the road for home gutom. The End.

Last month at the height of the issue on ZTE deal on Diwalwal, I got a chance to see Joecab, the citizen, for the first time at his Panorama home after that gloomy day for an interview on the issue. He said he has already secured peace as plain citizen and stopped counting his political wounds. “I enjoy being a fulltime father now,” he said adding that for nine years he had been always with the people of Comval. But Joecab even berated me in dragging him to the issue, that he would be summoned (not in legalese usage) in an SP probe-inquiry, and even questioned who am I writing for now. It was just like Cong. Way Kurat last Tuesday for suspecting me to be still loyal to one-way PR conscious Joecab. But by that I got the opportunity to level off with Cong. Way K. For all and sundry, I’m back to fulltime media works after a long interregnum. Chief government propagandists who have been used and out of delicadeza and deference must also bow down to the new power holders and not cling to positions even protected by the CSC.

We were with the defunct Northern Star in the days of the cut-and-paste newspaper layouting, covering Mankilam to as far as the interior Sto. Tomas, Pantukan. Laak, New Bataan and up Diwalwal. Also, the good thing in the media now, Press Sec. Jess Dureza, is that the Internet and cellphone spell a difference in getting and sending facts and news at least expense compared to the past ever-peripatetic days. It’s different now in the media, you can now live by and with it but a story is always made for the love of writing and of the profession, said publisher Bert Gorgonio last April when rice prices skyrocketed. “Gwapo ni kay wa tay mga amo,” he added. But the blood of a writer runs deep in me just like Bert, who also had a stint working in Surigao government. Objectivity and fairness in journalism has always been our constant guide. At the end of the day, it will always be our readers who will judge and sustain us. When we err just like any human, we are humbled by your notice of correction or side as we take your right to reply as sacrosanct to a working press. We just always try and strive to be your real press. (For online edition, visit my blog at: https://cha4t.wordpress.com, e-mail: ruralurbanews@yahoo.com or chamonforte@yahoo.com)


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