At the defunct Times Journal, a martial law paper, two irrepressible reporters filed stories totally oblivious of the martial law context they were in. Maning Coles and Rey “Klek Klek” Navarrete wrote their stories without fear or favor. They never ran afoul of the martial law authorities probably because they covered non-political beats – Maning covered the Western Police District, then the premier police beat, while Rey covered what is now known as the CAMANAVA area.
What would have been their behavior in another setting, say a political beat? They would have remained, I guess, just as undaunted and irrepressible.
I think they came from elsewhere (Maning Coles was a Waray from Samar). But both were proud of the fact that they were certified “Caloocan City boys.” In between coverage and filing of stories, they swapped Caloocan City-centric stories. It was always Caloocan: its one-family politics ( the Asistios), its noble and sleazy side, the small and big things about the city that dominated their lives.
I was their lowly sidekick and coffee boy at the office, often amazed at how Maning Coles could produce Page One stuff out of ordinary police events. Or how Klek Klek could spin a non-event in the now CAMANAVA area into one for the inside pages. Maning Coles’s crime reportage did not have the elegance and electricity of Max Buan’s police stories, but Maning’s files had leads that shouted “Page One.” I was too in awe of Maning and Klek Klek that I failed to ask them this question. Why was there no other universe for you except Caloocan despite the fact that yonder lay a broader, more interesting world?
Even during rounds of beer guzzling at the printing office of community newspaper publisher Orville Mauricio just off Grace Park, Orville, Maning and Klek Klek never departed from Caloocan-centric topics. Of course, Mang Orville, who called himself the smarter brother of Moric Mauricio, provided the free beer.
But you can’t really blame them. Those from Caloocan City, even up to now, rarely have worlds beyond their beloved city.
Even the politicians who succeeded the once-invincible Asistios in office—Malonzo, Echiverri, Malapitan et al— never dreamt or never plotted to extend their influence beyond Caloocan City. Even their fights have been local. The only departure was when former Mayor and now Rep. Recom Echiverri was tabloid stuff—due to his alleged relationship with actress Marjorie Barreto. And being dragged into the movie pages of the tabloids was not even of Echiverri’s making.
But the Caloocan-centric mindset is about to change. The congressman representing the city’s 2nd district, Rep. Edgar Erice, is bringing his homegrown political training into the national sphere. Breaking and defying in the process the reluctance of Caloocan leaders to get involved in national issues. Whether or not he is ready to plunge into national issues with some level of competence and adequacy—and bring Caloocan politics into the front, back and center of the national conversation, is another matter. At least, he is venturing on a path-breaking undertaking of placing Caloocan City into the national political map.
And Erice, mind you, has chosen a very controversial and ticklish issue, term extension for President Aquino. An issue so loathed by many sectors of society that it guarantees Page One play for Erice’s every sneeze.
Erice is not a constitutional law expert. His professional life, before politics, was doing research work at the former Metro Manila Authority, before the agency turned into an unwieldy leviathan called the MMDA. His arguments for charter change, expectedly, have not been drawn from some sophisticated governing theory, or deep legal constructions, but from some street smart arguments that can be picked at any Caloocan corner.
• Erice says President Aquino deserves another term because “kasal ang Pangulo sa bayan”
• Erice cited news clippings on growth rates
• The social media’s reaction to the proposed term extension has been amazing, he says.
Obviously, he is no Recto or Tañada. But who else can come up with a killer argument “kasal ang Pangulo sa bayan” but Erice of Caloocan City.
At some point, the issue of term extension has to have another spear carrier in the House, a legal luminary, who, like Erice, unequivocally supports President Aquino. The arguments for a term extension have to be more sophisticated and intellectually compelling and Erice is quite limited in that area.
But Erice has done his job, lay the groundwork for a term extension. Perhaps, that sense of fealty will be reciprocated by President Aquino and the LP leadership.
Erice will not want for another big role once he is done laying the groundwork for a presidential term extension. He can always go back to what he has started —bashing Vice President Binay.
Remember, it was Erice who asked Binay to resign from the Aquino cabinet on the grounds of questionable loyalty. Within the LP, bashing Mr. Binay remains an unfinished and major business. And those bannering the cause maybe justly rewarded.