Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Drilon Drops Congress Bid

The buzz today is that Senator Frank Drilon is backing out of the congressional race in Iloilo City. I first heard the rumor from a former Senate colleague last Wednesday but I did not want to believe it. My acquiantances at the Liberal Party refused to confirm the news but neither did they deny it (all they wanted to say is that Drilon "is considering not running" in Iloilo City). But last night Novi Guazo, a local radio blocktimer in Iloilo City, has announced that Senator Drilon definitely is not running and is instead considering endorsing lawyer Rex Rico for the post.

I know this piece of information must be a big surprise (especially to the Manila press who think Drilon is very strong in Iloilo) and a big disappointment (especially to those who want to "frame" the local race as a referendum on GMA's rule). But as it was already confirmed by several sources, it seems to be that. Kanugon (sayang)!

In football or basketball, players prevent the star player of the opposing team from scoring by isolating him. "Isolation play" usually involves two to three players guarding and "harassing" the opposing team's star player to prevent him from scoring a goal. In politics, isolation play means eliminating most if not all of your opponent's allies and alienating him from his supporters. This I believe was the administration gameplan against Drilon.

A confluence of events conspired to make Drilon's bid in Iloilo City untenable. First, former opposition congressional candidate Atty. Romeo Gerochi (a logical ally) joined the Gonzalez-Treñas camp early last year. Then, Councilor Linda Liberiaga announced that she is running for Congress, potentially splitting the opposition vote in Iloilo City. Also, his supposed teammate former Mayor Mansueto Malabor was rumored to be getting impatient with him for not being active in organizing their slate and not being "visible" enough in Iloilo City. Also, rumors that Drilon is not in the pink of health (he admitted he has gout) hounded him. To date, not one among the 150 or so barangay captains allied with the Gonzalez-Treñas group has been reported to have shifted to his camp. And while most aspirants took advantage of the long Christmas break to go around their districts, Drilon chose to fly abroad, perhaps the final indication that he is not serious about his candidacy. And with the impending dismissal of his close and most powerful ally in Iloilo, Governor Neil Tupas, this March (when his 60-day TRO expires), the isolation of Drilon is truly complete.

There is no longer any politically-significant group or personality in Iloilo City left for Drilon, except probably for Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, the Jaro bishop and CBCP president. And the recent "awesome display of power" at the Capitol must have had a chilling effect on politicians who are thinking of throwing their lot with the good senator from Molo. Now, politicians aspiring to run for councilor must be having second thoughts running under Drilon's ticket for fear that they would also suffer the same fate as Governor Tupas. Dismissal and perpetual disbarment from government service, after all, is every professional politician's worst nightmare.

Anyway, let me turn to the man rumored to replace Drilon for the congressional race. I know Atty. Rex Rico well because we campaigned together for the late Senator Raul Roco in Panay island during the last three elections (1995, 1998, and 2004). Atty. Rico hails from from Mandurriao, Iloilo City and is a product of the Central Philippine University (where he was a champion debater) and San Beda Law School (where he was a student of Roco). I remember that Roco always kidded Rico (whose wife is distantly related to the late senator), telling everyone who would care to listen that the "Ricos used to be Rocos until they became rich." Rex also has political blood running in his veins - his father, who was very close to the Lopezes, used to be Councilor and later Vice Mayor of Iloilo City.

But in as much as I want to see him win, I feel that he is not that well-known yet in Iloilo City. Having been based in Manila for so long (where he has a thriving law practice), many Ilonggos have not heard of him. Also, he lacks the preparation, machinery and resources to mount a solid campaign. I told him so several times and as a friend advised him to run anay for the City Council so that he could establish a creditable track record in public service. But since the opportunity presented itself, I guess Rex had no option but to grab it. Rex is a decent (though at times a very outspoken) man and I wish him all the luck in the world.

2 comments:

jose said...

ilonggos must be true to themselves as patient, brave, hardworking and intelligent...let's wake up, let's not just leave the actions for others specially to our local gov't. leaders, let's stop now the high cost of electricity, let us compel the councilors we elected to pass resolution to lower the "highest in the philippines" electric rates. with this ERC will know of the abuses of a monopolistic power distribution utility, PECO. not to forget also our overcharged claim of P2.89 billion as decided in the court.

jose said...

ilonggos must be true to themselves as patient, brave, hardworking and intelligent...let's wake up, let's not just leave the actions to others specially to our local gov't. leaders, let's stop now the high cost of electricity, let us compel the councilors we elected to pass resolution to lower the "highest in the philippines" electric rates. with this ERC will know of the abuses of a monopolistic power distribution utility, PECO. not to forget also our overcharged claim of P2.89 billion as decided in the court.