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    Poetic Justice

    The Webster Dictionary defines “Vexation” as “A feeling of annoyance or irritation”. So that when somebody annoys or irritates another he is said to be “vexing” that person.

      Just before the 2004 Presidential and local elections, Geming De Castro was apparently annoyed by the fact that he was not invited to “deliver” a speech during the coronation of a barangay fiesta queen in Sta. Remedios (Bulan, Sorsogon).

      Perhaps thinking of himself a king, Geming may have developed a sense of dominion over all of TagaBulans and expects all of us to pay our respects to him before we could even decide what to do with our lives.

       Geming, who was then the incumbent mayor, claimed he was embarrassed when instead of inviting him, the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) of Sta.Remedios Elementary School asked another mayoralty candidate, Cesar Boy Gogola to the coronation ceremonies. According to Geming, “for the past six (6) years (he) was always invited to deliver the fiesta message” in Sta. Remedios. The decision, therefore, of the PTA to replace him with Boy Gogola is a politically-motivated scheme and purely aimed at “vexing, annoying and humiliating” him.

      Not wanting others to follow suit, Geming wielded his power. Instead of being vexed he decided to vex the PTA of Sta. Remedios.

      In June 2002, he lodged a criminal complaint for “Unjust Vexation” against public school teacher Ronald Latonero and parent Zenaida Gotladera, ostensibly, for preventing him from delivering his Barangay fiesta message,  to Geming’s “great annoyance and humiliation”. Asked why he singled-out Latonero and Gotladera only, he said the other PTA officers apologized to him already. Whew! Apologize for what? For sparing themselves from his boring speech?

      Still not satisfied with the criminal case, Geming pursued Latonero with another administrative complaint before the Department of Education. He also availed of his influence over Bulan’s Sangguniang Bayan by humiliating Latonero to appear before the legislative body and explain why he (and the PTA officers) did not invite Geming to the barangay fiesta coronation night.

      Luckily for Latonero, the Department of Education dismissed Geming’s complaint against him. As to the Sangguniang Bayan? Well, what do you expect, it acted the way Geming wanted it, deliver the message to Latonero or anyone who messes up with him that “the strong arm” of Geming’s law will always fall on lowly mortals!

      But sweet Lady Justice smiled at Ronald Latonero this week.

      In a 16-page Decision, the Municipal Trial Court of Bulan acquitted Ronald Latonero and parent Zenaida Gotladera of the trumped-up charges brought by Geming De Castro against them.

      Judge Marie Louise Guan-Aragon (remember this equally “sweet-smiling” lady who brought TagaBulans great pride when she held the much-covetted post of National Federation of Kabataang Barangay Chairmen? Yes, she is the acting presiding judge of MTC-Bulan.) cleanly cut Geming’s malicious prosecution of public school teacher Latonero when she wrote:

       “This Court would like to believe that this case was brought about by the election fever (of 2004) that time when emotions were high and when political jealousy was prevalent”.

      Giving more credence to Latonero’s defense than to Geming’s childish bickerings, Judge Guan-Aragon cited in her Decision Latonero’s testimony:

      “Since joining the career service of the Department of Education, I did and has always done my best to be apolitical, or politically neutral.” 

     Latonero said, “If my intention was to favor or follow my father’s (Rudy Latonero) political affiliation, I would certainly have opposed the choice of Cesar Boy Gogola as fiesta guest. My father is affiliated with the Guyala group in Bulan, and not with the Gogolas then it would be politically correct if I invited instead Atty. Redentor Guyala. But I did not do that because politics to me is personal – it ends where my loyalty to my oath begins!”

      Hamak mo suon! A public school teacher thinks and speaks better than a municipal mayor. At least Ronald Latonero knows where his “loyalty to (his) party ends, where (his) loyalty to his country begins”.

           Just in case Geming does not know who said that famous quote, it was his high school alma mater’s namesake, the great Manuel Luis Quezon!

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