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Fall from grace

WEEKS before his spectacular but barely talked about fall from grace, Francis Tolentino described his MMDA posting as “the most punishing job, perhaps, available.” Subsequent events have shown how no punishment could’ve been more cruel than the politics of the ruling party of which he was not a member.

One mistake, if it was one, and it wiped out five years of gruelling hard work at the top of a “development authority” whose primary responsibility is keeping the streets of 17 cities safe. Traffic, as everyone with an average-size, functioning brain ought to know, is only one facet, and it could never be the job of one person working alone, in isolation.

A word of thanks from the President was all the chairman got. At least. And not a pip from Mr. Tolentino’s colleagues in the Cabinet, including those who could’ve tried to make his job less punishing. The silence was a clap of thunder on a cloudless day. The only din came from a claque of saintly women of the type who chew their nails waiting for the god-given opportunity to loudly look for maidens to rescue from the big bad wolf.

Look at them now! Who exploited who? Who used the dancers – all right, all right, call them twerkers if it pleases you so – to earn for themselves reams of publicity topped off by, aha! the resignation of the powerful, mighty, now contrite MMDA chairman? A victory, no, a double victory for a society so blase it could not be moved by the injustice done to a public servant who had the decency to apologize and not blame anyone for an accident not of his own making. Did he choreograph the dance? Did he order the “willing victim” to lie down on the floor of the stage?

If it’s any consolation to the ex-chairman, no good deed goes unpunished. He’s not giving up the race, even if he has to run outside a government that no longer needs him. Sweet revenge, that the party that did not want him had to field two willingly willy-nilly candidates to take his place at the last minute.

From MMDA to the Senate: The man is a masochist who’s willing to take on punishment on a more bearable scale. If he makes it, the job will be, comparatively, a walk in the park. If he doesn’t, didn’t I say he’s a masochist?