Buencamino does political affairs analysis for Action for Economic Reforms. This piece was published in the newspaper Today, 28 July 2004 edition, page 9.

Here is an example of an elected official showing that self-sacrifice is an option. – ATTY. JESSE ANDRES

THE Sunday papers carried a picture of an overjoyed woman getting her
lollipop back. I have never seen anybody want something so badly.

An ecstatic Dinky Soliman issued a statement saluting Noli de Castro’s act of self-sacrifice. She said, “Vice President Noli de Castro has shown his leadership and selflessness in putting the unity and harmony of the government above his preference. I salute him.”

Indeed, Noli deserves the accolade, especially since he did not go all over town crying that he was betrayed. It would have been truly admirable if Soliman had shown as much class as Noli and sans the tears. I truly wish she had demonstrated her “leadership and selflessness” by putting the “unity and harmony of the government” above her lollipop. Alas, it seems she could not be expected to display even that.

Unlike Dinky Soliman, Noli de Castro was dry-eyed when he announced his decision. He said, “After consulting with the President, I have decided to politely decline her offer.” He also made clear why he was not a lollipop-grabber. He explained, “Certain facts should be clarified. Before the start of the campaign, the President asked me what would be my preference for a Cabinet position. Instinctively, I mentioned DSWD as my preference because it is the department that addresses the immediate needs of the disadvantaged.”

Not only did Noli not covet the DSWD, he also showed all of us that he knows something which Soliman and her civil society army have yet to appreciate. He said, “Unity and cooperation is what our government needs. It will take a measure of self-sacrifice from everyone to achieve our national goals. This is what our people deserve.”

Noli’s Chief of Staff, Jesse Andres, said de Castro simply wanted to put an end to some civil society groups’ incessant lobbying to retain Soliman. He added, “It is not only in the capacity of DSWD secretary that [De Castro] can help and he wants to serve as an example that a vice president may sacrifice for the common good. It’s really in the spirit of self-sacrifice. Our people think politicians are all power-hungry. Here is an example of an elected official showing that self-sacrifice is an option.”

It was difficult for Malacanang spokesmen to praise Noli without making Soliman look bad. The campaign spokes-fetus Mike Defensor said, “In doing this sacrifice of his personal preference, the Vice President showed his selflessness and his statesmanship. He is not really a power-hungry person.”

Defensor’s approbation made Soliman look like she had great difficulty
controlling her hunger for power. And Bunye, who said that Noli
exhibited statesmanship, unwittingly implied that someone else did not
exhibit it.

It was truly gallant and exemplary of Noli to give back Dinky Soliman’s
lollipop, and it should be noted that he never grabbed anybody’s
lollipop. Arroyo offered it to him when she was courting him to be her
running mate.

Someone once described Dinky Soliman as a “class act.” I beg to
disagree. It is Noli de Castro who is a class act. Dinky Soliman and
her civil society army would do well to take some lessons from Noli de
Castro. He is the man.