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October 29, 2011

Day of Deceit: "Be Gentle as Doves, But Be Prudent As Serpents"

Why do I commemorate a Day of Deceit? This is to remind me of the limitations and weaknesses of Man. This is to remind me that while I must continue to trust people, I must be ready to take the consequences of the betrayal of my trust. One cannot trust if he is not ready to face the reverberations of betrayal. The origins of my Day of Deceit started in November 3, 2009, when I wrote what happened that early morning of that fateful day. The following post were originally taken from my private facebook account"

"This morning, I decided to stay in Bacolod in order to process my supposed appointment papers as Municipal Health Officer. The municipal mayor is currently in Bacolod undergoing physiotherapy after recuperating from a stroke. I was planning to take a leave and to go to the Mayor's house to have him sign my papers.

So I called up the Main Health Center (after sending text messages to my nurse-II) to tell them that I will be taking the first trip tomorrow (4 a.m.) and to remind the staff of our regular meeting tomorrow (first Wednesday of the month). My TB Coordinator told me in a hush that SCS, the administrative Officer, and Mr. EG, HRMO, came to the Health center that morning to meet the staff to announce that Dra. AG was now the new Municipal Health Officer. According to them, Dra. A's appointment papers were already signed and that the effectivity was October 30, 2009.

I was shocked. I was trembling. I could not believe my ears...

Dra. AG is a graduate of the University of Saint La Salle College of Medicine Batch 2008, passed the boards last August 2009, and as a provincial scholar, served as a volunteer in Candoni RHU for 3 weeks. I was made to believe that A was a friend since we were schoolmates. Throughout the duration of her volunteering at the RHU, she has never mentioned to me her intention to apply as MHO of Candoni. In fact, whenever we have the chance to talk, I would ask her about her plans and she would share to me that she might go into residency but she was not sure either. The last time we saw each other was on a weekend I think a few weeks ago at SM. I even asked her if she was already applying for residency, and she told me she would not. But she never mentioned her intention or her plan to apply as MHO.

Thus, when I heard about the news, I was in total shock.

I immediately called Sir C at the Mayor's Office and asked him what happened. According to him, he too was at a loss at what happened. He was just informed by the HRMO that Dra. A's papers were already signed by the Mayor himself. I was already furious. I told them that what they did was a violation of the Memorandum of Agreement between the LGU, DOH and me.

According to the MOA, section I-E: The Municipal Government shall appoint the aforementioned DTTB to the plantilla position of the RHP or MHO at the start of the third year.

I was really furious. I felt betrayed. Last October 5, I even made public my intention to be absorbed by the LGU during the flag ceremony, to which Sir E the HRMO even responded, saying that he would be publishing the vacancy in the position as required by law (RA 7401).

Thus, when I heard from my staff about the situation, I really felt betrayed. My entire world was spinning. My wife and my own mother was listening to my raised and trembling voice talking over the phone.

I called the Main Health center again and asked if Dra. G was present. They handed the phone to A and I asked her what happened. I asked her if she was aware that my contract was still binding. I asked her why she did not bother to even ask me about my plans or even consult with me her plans, considering that I am still in the position, and that I have already made public my announcement to be absorbed.

I both told Sir C and Dra. G that if they insist, I could file a case against them. At that time, I was already very committed to take legal means. What they did was a violation of my MOA and the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers. I was mad. But despite my being mad, I was civil. I never cursed anyone of them. I could have badmouthed them but I have breeding. Yes, my voice was raised but I was not disrespectful. Yes, I threatened to file a case because I feel that I have the law on my side.

I called up SB DT, Chairperson of the Committee on Health. She also told me how shocked she was to have heard the news. In fact, they were planning to have a committee meeting this Friday to discuss the matter. It seems the appointment requires concurrence by the SB. And SB T said that their stand of course was in my favor.

I was trying to ask from Sir C the number of the HRMO because I wanted to clarify the appointment of Dra. G. Sir C wouldn't give me his number.

I called up DOH Representative EM. She too was shocked by the news. She even apologized in behalf of Candoni for what they have done. I told her that if they insist on Dra. G's appointment, I would really file a case.

By this time, my family were already talking about our plans on what to do.

I was already inconsolable. I cried in the shoulders of my wife. I could not believe that this could happen to me. I do not know whom I can trust anymore. I even sent a text to my BHS midwife, asking them that if they do not like me, they tell me outright and I will leave. Some of my midwives called me and was wondering why I was asking them that. They too were yet to hear about the news. The staff which Sir C and the HRMO met that morning were the staff assigned at the RHU. The other BHS midwives were in their respective posts.

The entire afternoon was spent thinking...praying....reflecting...twittering emotions...

By late afternoon, I decided to meet the Mayor in his house in Bacolod. I called up Tito NB, treasurer of the municipality, and asked for directions. With my papers ready in my hand, I went to fetch Ms. M at the Provincial Capitol Office and Ms. JM, my Nurse-II, who is at the moment attending our FHSIS Data Recon at Sugarland Hotel.

The three of us went to Mayor's House at Tangub. When we arrived there, we were met by no less Councilor Alex Paglumotan, a very close friend of Mayor Borromeo, and M, Mayor's SP, and his bodyguards. We all went in and asked if Mayor was awake. We were then ushered into Mayor's room where he was lying comfortably on his bed, wide awake and alert. He even recognized me. He called me by my name and when he saw me he burst into tears. He held my hands firmly and kept on repeating my name..."Dr. N" He also recognized Mrs. M and Mrs. M. I sat on his bed and without letting go of his hand, I asked him how he was. He was feeling okay. In tears, he was also saying that he will be filing his candidacy for mayor, giving his two thumbs up sign. I told him that he has my support.

Five minutes later, Dra. G's parents were inside Mayor Celot's room. They were standing close to us. When the Mayor saw the father, the Mayor asked for him and asked him what he wanted. By that time, Dra. G's mother was also talking aloud, raising her voice and was even saying, "May faction-faction na di gali sa RHU?" We were bewildered by what she meant. "May welcome back pa ya para kay Dr. N..." She was referring to the cartolina posted by my staff when I came back last October 19 to report back to work when I met the BHW staff. The staff, upon learning that I was coming back, posted the cartolina with their congratulatory remarks for my winning the Outstanding DTTB Award.

In front of Dra. G's father, Mayor Celot said that " Gusto ko si Dr. N ang mapabilin (I want Dr. N to continue)." He was holding my hands firmly, almost in tears. M, his SP, was translating the hushed words being spoken by the Mayor. "Gusto nya si Dr. N ang ma sige pa sa Candoni..." (He wants Dr. N to continue serving in Candoni). "Number One," the Mayor said while pointing to me. "Number two," the mayor then pointed to Dra. G's father, indicating his preference.

I could not even enter any word to the Mayor except a thank you. Dra. G's father told the Mayor that they were not aware of the MOA that we had, perhaps defending his daughter's innocence. The Mayor told me that he wanted me to meet with him again the following day. He wanted to talk with me.

I said my by-your-leave because Dra. G's parents were already making a scene, right inside the Mayor's bedroom.

We stepped out and I talked with Dra. G's father. He was furious also, because I threatened his daughter with filing a case. I told him in a soft voice that I did because I was mad and I felt that his daughter betrayed me. She could have asked me about her plans. And at that time I do not know whom to trust anymore. But I never badmouthed A and she can attest to that. (He was even saying, "Indi mo na pag amhun bata ko kay Doctor ya bata ko (You don't ever do that to my daughter because she is a doctor" and I was thinking to myself, "teh, ano ko gale ya? (Then what am I then?)")

By that time, Councilor Alex Paglumotan was already inside the living room where we were "arguing". PD, the Mayor's nephew, was also present. He was even asking who brought A's papers to the Mayor for him to sign and when. The father could not even recall. According to P, Mayor signed A's papers the week prior to the "farewell" party my staff gave me.

Councilor Paglumotan went inside and conversed with the Mayor, bringing with him the MOA I showed to him earlier. When we stepped out of the Mayor's bedroom, he told the father that "Indi gusto ni mayor ang babayi nga doctora (referring to Dra. G). Gusto nya sya (pointing at me)" (The Mayor does not want the female doctor. He wants him). Councilor Paglumotan also stressed that as far as the law is concerned, the law is on my side. I have a contract and the LGU must respect the contract.

I told them all that I only came here to clarify with the Mayor if indeed he signed Dra. G's papers. And if he did sign them, I wanted to clarify my status considering that my contract is up to Dec. 31, 2009. What does that make me? I told them that I was only here to defend my remaining two months for the sake of my family. I told them that I have already decided not to be absorbed on January 1, 2010, the day my supposed appointment begins and my DTTB contract ends.

Earlier, the father of Dra. G also mentioned that his daughter decided to "give in" (as if they were right in the first place) and to come back to Bacolod tomorrow Wednesday and start her residency. The father claimed that Dra. G has residency offers already in CLMMRH and Riverside Medical Center.

In some sense, I feel sorry for A as well. I would still like to believe that she too was a victim here. I am still giving her the benefit of the doubt that she was fully unaware of the existing MOA we had with the LGU. My only concern was that she could have had called me or texted me and asked me about my plans. According to them, she was asking many people about the status of the MHO, everyone perhaps except me.

"For want of a nail, the kingdom was lost."

As far as today is concerned, I have already abandoned my plans of continuing at Candoni. It uplifts my spirit though to hear the affirmation of Mayor Borromeo that he wants me instead of Dra. G.

What exactly happened was a month ago, Dra. G and her mother went to the Mayor's house in Tangub and talked with the Mayor's wife. Upon the urging of the Mayor's wife, the Mayor signed Dra. G's papers. When asked however by Councilor Paglumotan, Mayor Borromeo recalled that what he signed was just Dra. G's application. Thus, according to Councilor Paglumotan, I am still the legitimate Municipal Health officer until my contract ends in December 31, 2009.

I feel sorry for Mayor Celot. I owe my professional career to him. If not for him, I would not be an effective DTTB.

So far, those are the facts from my perspective. There are many small details and it is best that I would share it in person.

But as far as my feelings are concerned, I felt betrayed, usurped, almost disregarded and neglected by the community I served for 2 years. I think this is now a sign from God that I need to move out and move on. And to think I was already excited looking forward to 2010. I have so many plans intended for Candoni and the affirmation I received from DOH as their Most Outstanding DTTB inspired me to think of many projects for Candoni. My Buntis Baby Bag is one. I still have a project proposal to submit to Zuellig Foundation, being a recipient of their HLMP training and already an HLMP fellow.

But my faith tells me to hold on. God draws straight in crooked lines. I leave my life in the hands of The God Who Turns Things Around."

POSTSCRIPT: despite of what happened, I was convinced that I should stay and assume the plantilla position after December 31, 2009 which I did and continued to render my service as if nothing happened.

When I first posted this note (It was evening of the same date), my objective is to tell my side of the truth in fear that the other side might tell their own truth ahead of me. Fortunately, I had friends and mentors who expressed support and the same anger.

One friend wrote, "maybe God has different plans for you bien...hindi man sa Candoni...madami pa diyan. tama si lemuel it's Candoni's loss. they don't know how lucky they are to have you as their dr. minsan kase we just have to let go's time to let them go and you will grow in different ways. at diyan sa ******* na yan! back stabbing na nilalang..sorry a..pero kung marunong ka should've told na gusto mo pla maging MHO. para kang isang kontrabida sa pelikula...siguro nga biktima ka din pero all along alam mo na wala ka pa sinabi!!! GGGGRRRRR!!!!!"

A relative also wrote, "If she has delicadeza, that lady should not even take that position. I always read all your posts about your hard work in Candoni. Your Tita Nenette, your Tito Nonong's older sister working with the Dept of Social Services in La Castellano always mentioned about your good work in Candoni everytime they talk on the phone. If she still insists on taking on the job that doesn't belong to her, I don't think she will succeed. You will be vindicated in the end. Just hang on"

A former teacher wrote, "Bien, what a story! Indeed the world is a web! Deceit, trust, ignorance, honesty, opportunism, and our desire to serve. I know you are frustrated. Pick up some lessons from this experience. With your capacity and creative mind, I know there would be a lot of venues that your ideas could benefit more. It is just so frustrating that your will and desire to serve Candoni was stifled. My pledge for the Buntis Bag remains wherever you implement it!"

One mentor even shared my seething anger, " I would do exactly like you...staying there would leave a bad taste in the mouth. Still, somebody needs to be taught a sugod pa lang gani, dishonest na...hmmmph! I can't wait for morning because tomorrow, may himu-on gid ko...daw nag-mala naman ang dugo ko....grrrrrrrr"

Unfortunately, this was actually just Phase One of an ongoing act of deceit. Phase 2 happened 4 months after. I also wrote a long note about it and even received a much longer note of response (which was actually by the way very hilarious) from one of the personalities involved in that fiasco, to which I wrote another long note of response to the response.

After posting it for a month in facebook though I decided to take it down as a sign of myself moving forward. It was time to let go. I no longer hate people. I now focus on hating deeds. It is just funny that from all of these mayhem, I was made whole by The God Who Turns Things Around and brought me to better avenues. The world is too small to cram it up with more hate.

So, I am sharing this as my way of exorcising the past demons and putting it to rest. However, like all things written in the web, this will be written in permanent ink, to remind everyone to be prudent as serpents.

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