Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Ilonggo Politicians on “Wait-and-See” Mode

With elections less than a year away, Ilonggo politicians seem to be more preoccupied with Charter Change instead of preparing for their candidacies. At this time, the local politicians would already be “doing the rounds,” organizing caucuses and conducting an “inventory” of their supporters. But rumors of a no-election scenario and the prospect of term extensions have fostered a “wait-and-see” attitude and have made politicians hesitant to spend money this early. Most are keeping their cards close to their chests, quietly observing what will happen in the next few months.

So far, the only person I know who had openly announced his plans is former Bacolod City PNP Chief Vicente Ponteras, who recently stated to local media that he will be running for mayor of the City of Smiles. If elections do push thru in 2007, Bacolodnons will be in for an exciting rematch between incumbent Mayor Evelio Leonardia and former Mayor Joy Valdez, with Ponteras as a dark horse.

Although he is seldom seen in public today, former Ambassador Eduardo Cojuangco is still a powerful force in Negros Occidental politics because his financial backing can make or break political careers. Despite Mr. Cojuangco’s “absence,” I am sure that he is never far from the minds of all Negrense politicians. But Mr. Cojuangco seems to be more interested in business nowadays than politics. In fact, he just recently launched his own personal brand of red wine (made from his vineyards in Australia) and is quietly promoting it to the Asian market.

In Iloilo province, former 1st District Representative and current Philippine Coconut Authority (Philcoa) chief Oscar Garin is being touted as a gubernatorial contender along with incumbent Vice Governor Roberto Armada. Fiery opposition Congressman Rolex Suplico, a third termer, has also indicated his intention to run against his uncle, incumbent Governor Niel Tupas, but many local observers dismiss it as merely a strategy to secure the 5th congressional seat for his brother, Army Colonel Enrique Suplico. In Iloilo City, rumors that Senate President Franklin Drilon (who is on his second and last term as senator) and former Senator Nikki Coseteng are running against incumbent Lone District Representative Raul Gonzalez, Jr. were finally laid to rest when it was reported that the two have not transferred their Comelec registration to Iloilo City after the May, 15, 2005 deadline had lapsed. This effectively disqualifies both of them from complying with the one-year minimum residency requirement for local candidates. Over at the 4th District, Congressman Ferj Biron may face a formidable opponent in the person of Marilou Arroyo, the sister of First Gentleman Mike and Congressman Iggy Arroyo.

In Aklan, several vice mayors are gearing up to replace several third-term mayors. Over in Antique, Liberal Party Governor Sally Zaldivar-Perez had chosen to remain with the administration, and in the process broke her long association with Senator Drilon and Liberal Party matriarch Judy Roxas. No. 1 Senator Mar Roxas, the “Great Ilonggo Hope” for the presidency, has maintained his firm grip on Capiz politics. With the “disappearance” of Capiceño Joc Joc Bolante (the former DA Undersecretary of “Fertilizer Scam” fame), no local politician has emerged strong enough to pose a serious challenge to Mar’s dominance in the province.

With the exception of Negros Occidental Governor Joseph Marañon’s group, local candidates who ran under the FPJ, Roco and Ping Lacson camps were soundly defeated during the last 2004 elections. Aside from Marañon, the only opposition figures with the financial wherewithal to seriously challenge the administration in Western Visayas are former GMA allies Drilon and Roxas. But while Mar has maintained his supremacy in Capiz, Senator Drilon’s grip on Iloilo politics is gradually slipping, what with DOJ Secretary Raul Gonzalez, Sr. always around to check him.

All in all, the political situation in Western Visayas has yet to sizzle as nearly all the politicians here are adopting a wait-and-see attitude


postigo luna said...

i posted a comment
and it vanished

Jay Javines said...

Hi Ollie!

Thanks for texting me your blogsite.

Update us politically as always hehehe

political pundit said...

Interesting write up. It's good to hear about the latest news in Ilonggo politics. Keep us posted.