In the afternoon of October 30, Cainta Mayor Johnielle Keith “Kit” Nieto shared the above photo on Facebook with the following caption:
Late na sa kasal…eh ninong…para-paraan lang para umabot.
Now, based solely on what I hear, Mayor Nieto is a good, hardworking public official. The comments on his posts indicate he’s a widely loved public servant—almost like Manila Mayor Isko Moreno. But the above-mentioned post is wrong—no ifs, no buts—and it certainly deserves to get called out. Which it has already been, most prominently by James Deakin and Erwin Tulfo.
While I’m tempted to point out that it’s somewhat ironic that one of the persons (Deakin) criticizing the act was himself guilty of once driving with a passenger (Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar) who did not wear a seatbelt, I’m with the influencer on this one. He has every right to call Nieto out, and no, he doesn’t need to get the mayor’s side in order to do so. What side are we talking about here? It’s there for everyone to see. On social media. Even a motorcycle rider in Mongolia can see that picture. It’s wrong—especially the caption—and I don’t see how the mayor’s side could have made it any less so. Not even the supposed existence of a waiver “absolving anyone from liability for any injury” the beloved rider could potentially sustain. Duh?
To the mayor’s credit, he has already apologized for this lapse in judgment. An excerpt:
I offer no excuses for breaching the law. I only attempted to explain what happened and why I did it, but it does not in any way exempt me from complying with what is required by our laws. I should have been more circumspect in maintaining the image of a compliant citizen given the position I hold.
Great. But allow me to say my piece before finally letting this episode fade into oblivion.
The photo and the caption are wrong because they validate the insidious mindset that is pulling this country down
I am 100% in agreement that the photo is wrong because of the mayor’s nonuse of a safety helmet while riding a motorcycle. In a country that is now teeming with two-wheeled transport machines operated by undisciplined and reckless road users, an image of a public official (particularly a popular one) committing the most common offense of kamote riders negates every single road-safety awareness campaign out there.
But more than that, the photo and the caption are wrong because they validate the insidious mindset that is pulling this country down—the mindset that EVERYTHING is permissible in the name of achieving one’s goal. Para-paraan. Screw the rules and ignore the law…I’m going to do what’s convenient and beneficial for myself, the common good be damned. Make no mistake: This is a very powerful image that no government official has any business sharing on social media.
You know what our main problem is? It’s the sentiment that misdeeds can and should be overlooked if the circumstances warrant it.
Sorry, I beat the red light because I was running late for my meeting.
Pasensya na po nabangga ko kayo pero naghahanap-buhay lang.
Hindi ko pa po na-renew ang lisensya ko kasi maraming inaasikaso sa bahay.
We’re a nation of violators because we always think our pathetic situation somehow gives us a noble excuse not to fall in line. We find even the flimsiest of reasons enough justification for disregarding the law. Late for a wedding and you’re the celebrity ninong? Hell, yeah!
Props to Mayor Nieto for backing down and apologizing. You’re a good man, I think. Which makes this story all the more disappointing for many. But you’ll be a better public official because of this. Just know that your people don’t just need a competent leader—they also need a role model.