Let’s look back on Angeles politics

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I always love to write about certain episodes in the past. I am writing this as a respite for readers who may be having enough of the launched anti-illegal drug trade which dominates spaces of newspapers, the radio news and commentaries almost on a daily basis.

In 1988, Antonio Abad Santos aka “Bubusuk” ended the political careers of the two most influential politicians in Pampanga and Angeles City – that of Rafael Lazatin and Francisco G. Nepomuceno. The war chest of Abad Santos was no match against the two, but what made him win against the two political giants was that he was so focused and powered by his strong desire to win. And of course the surname bequeathed by his father, Manuel Abad Santos, the controversial mayor of Angeles town in the late 50s and early 60s helped.

The win of “Bubusuk” versus Lazatin and Nepomuceno was not a fluke (tsamba), according to Ram Mercado, his friend and one of his handlers. His win was described as 20 years in the making. Abad Santos started it with a dream of someday occupying city hall as its chief executive, like his father before him. And becoming a mayor of Angeles City became an obsession. He was first elected councilor in 1967 and served many years as member of the city council before he was appointed as Officer-in-charge (OIC) vice mayor by then President Cory Aquino, after the latter was swept to the presidency following the end of the martial law regime of President Ferdinand Marcos.

And him being vice mayor served as his platform when he ran for mayor against the two political giants in that 1988 mayoral elections. It was one of the most interesting elections ever witnessed in the city. Abad Santos being a good copy, I was tasked by Dick Pascual, my editor at the Philippine Daily Inquirer, to write a political situationer. And I picked on Abad Santos as my material. I phoned him and said I will be dropping by his office at the Morlan building for the interview. Instead of me interviewing him, he interviewed me instead and asked if I wanted to join his council ticket. His 10-man council slate had still one slot left. He assured me he will sweep the elections. I believed him, and I joined. No regrets, I placed number fourth with Ric Zalamea topping it, followed by Pacito Pabalan and third place was Lito Ganzon. Other winners were Rafael “Penggot” Del Rosario, Dr. Ramon Moreno, lawyer Lorenzito Buan, Carlos Sandico III, Marianne Dayrit and Magno Pangilinan. Elected vice mayor was a young lawyer, Atty. Edgardo D. Pamintuan.

Pamintuan, whose father Alberto was a long-time serving vice mayor, garnered an impressive number of votes and political dopesters predicted his rise in public service after that victory. And the prediction became true later when Abad Santos squandered his leadership as he picked quarrel against his former supporters. He also earned the ire of the business sector of the city, and his political opponents took advantage of it. And Abad Santos had the distinct dishonor of being the first Philippine city mayor to be subjected the process of recall. Though the protest movement failed, Abad Santos never recovered politically after that.

And that episode made Angelenos look towards the direction of Pamintuan, as their next leader.

(Note: A 2nd Part coming)