If there is something in a state of ferment in Lianga nowadays, it is local politics. And the cause is clear and easy to pinpoint. Nature abhors a vacuum and when a center of power in the political system of a town like Lianga is weakened or diminished in one way or the other, other competing forces within that system seek to expand into the void that has been created.
For weeks now, the town's incumbent mayor, Vicente Pedrozo, has been laid low by an undisclosed illness and therefore has been absent from his office at the town hall. Reports indicate that he is presently undergoing intensive medical treatment in Davao City and nothing has been said as to when and if he can return to office.
This is a rather unfortunate turn of events for Mayor Pedrozo who, after winning a convincing mandate in in the 2007 local elections, was just starting out to define the kind of legacy he wants to leave to the people of Lianga. And it does not also bode well for the townsfolk who have been banking on the desperate hope that Pedrozo, despite a checkered political career, would be able to provide the strong leadership that would finally put the town back on the road to progress and development.
Left temporarily on the helm of the town government are Vice-Mayor Roy Sarmen and the members of the municipal council who are understandably trying to continue to continue to function under an atmosphere of uncertainty and political tension. With so many among them interested in gunning for the mayoralty and other elective positions in the coming 2010 general elections, the present absence and incapacity of the chief executive is ushering in a situation ripe for political intrigue, bickering, backstabbing and maneuvering that the people of Lianga was still supposed to be spared for at least more than a year yet.
Mayor Perdrozo has been repeatedly quoted as saying that he will not seek a second term and this announcement has, in effect, opened wide the gates for would be pretenders and contenders for the mayoralty to make their initial moves in anticipation of the coming local polls. His present incapacity has simply added urgency to what is already a potentially volatile and intensely unstable political situation.
As the political factions and personalities at the town hall struggle for dominance and control of the local levers of power, one wonders if the municipal government will still be able to find the time or the energy to attend to the needs of its constituents or, more importantly, provide a coherent and unified leadership for the town in the months ahead. Perhaps as early as now, the people of Lianga better resign themselves to the fact that little or nothing of significance will be accomplished by this political administration by the end of its term.
Of course, I may be speaking out of turn. It is possible that Mayor Perdrozo may make a full recovery and quiet things down at the town hall by reclaiming the office he was elected to. I sincerely hopes he will be able to do that and at the soonest possible time. Or by a miracle or stroke of conscience, local officials will rally around their ailing chief executive and work together to realize whatever vision he has for the town and its future.
Otherwise, his continued absence from office in addition to the narrow-mindedness, timidity and opportunism of most of the people he has left in charge will only serve to aggravate the crisis of leadership at the town hall and will sully whatever positive accomplishments are left of the political legacy he seeks to leave behind.
And the people of Lianga, who have held such high expectations for his administration, will again be doomed to disappointment as they have been disappointed at previous administrations for countless times in the past.