Friday, March 30, 2007

The Die is Cast!

Alea Jacta Est! (The Die is Cast!). These were the words that Julius Caesar reportedly uttered when he crossed the Rubicon, the river that divided Gaul from Italy, to wage war against General Pompey and the Senate of Rome. By proclaiming “the die is cast,” he coined a phrase that would forever mean that there is no turning back. For many Filipino politicians, March 29 was their Rubicon as they struggled to beat the deadline for the filing of their Certificates of Candidacy in COMELEC.

In many parts of Western Visayas, the fight will mainly be between Lakas and Kampi - parties both identified with the administration. The Liberal Party is expected to put a spirited fight in some areas, particularly in Iloilo province and Capiz while Danding's NPC is the dominant party in Negros Occidental province. Here is the list of candidates that I gathered so far:

Congressional Race:
Rep. Raul Gonzalez, Jr. (LAKAS) vs. former Mayor Mansing Malabor (UNO) vs. former Councilor Benjie Gengos (LP-Drilon Wing).
Mayoralty Race:
Mayor Jerry Treñas (LAKAS) vs. former No. 1 Councilor Joshua Alim (UNO)

Gubernatorial Race: Gov. Niel Tupas (LP-Drilon Wing) vs. Vice Gov. Obet Armada (LAKAS).
Congressional Race:
(1st District) - Rep. Janette Garin vs. Miag-ao Mayor Gerardo Flores;
(2nd District) - Rep. Judy Syjuco vs. Board Member Celia Capadosa;
(3rd District) - Rep. Art Defensor vs. Atty. Zafiro "Boy" Lauron;
(4th District) - Rep. Ferj Biron vs. Dumangas Mayor Rolly Distura;
(5th District) - Col. Enrique "Boy" Suplico vs. Board Member Niel "Jun Jun" Tupas, Jr.

Gubernatorial Race:
Gov. Carlito Marquez (Tibyog) vs. Mabeth Mobo-Garcia (PDP-Laban) vs. Vicky Ramos vs. Dr. Karen Ambito-Galvan (PMP)
Congressional Race: Rep. Florencio "Joeben" Miraflores (Tibyog) vs. Atty. Anthony Acevedo

Gubernatorial Race: Vice Governor Vic Tanco (LP-Drilon Wing) vs. (no info so far)
Congressional Race:

(1st District) - Roxas City Mayor Tony del Rosario (LP-Drilon Wing) vs. Roxas City Vice Mayor Alan Celino (Kampi) vs. ex-Gov. Jose "Ting" Borda
(2nd District) - Cong. Fredenil Castro vs. Engr. Ernesto Bulilan
Roxas City Mayoralty Race: Governor Vic Bermejo (LP-Drilon Wing) vs. Teresa Hontiveros-Almalbis (Kampi)

Gubernatorial Race: Gov. Joseph Marañon vs. (no info so far)
Congressional Race:
(1st District) - Rep. Tranquilino Carmona (NPC) vs. former Rep. Jules Ledesma
(2nd District) - Rep. Alfredo Marañon III (NPC) vs. (no info so far)
(3rd District) - Rep. Jose Carlos Lacson vs. Reynaldo Depasucat
(4th District) - La Carlota Mayor Jeffrey Ferrer (NPC) vs. Jorge Camposano
(5th District) - Rep. Iggy Arroyo (Kampi) vs. former Rep. Apolinario "Jun" Lozada (LAKAS) vs. Ernesto Librado (Ind.)
(Lone District, Bacolod City) - Rep. Monico Puentebella (Kampi) vs. Vice Mayor Renecito Novero (NPC) vs. Andy Hagad (Ind.)
Mayoralty Race:
BACOLOD CITY - Mayor Evelio Leonardia vs. Retired Bacolod PNP Chief Vicente Ponteras
SILAY CITY - Mayor Carlo Gamban vs. Jose "Oti" Montelibano

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Iloilo City Opposition Slate

Here is the final opposition slate in Iloilo City:

For Congressman ..... former Mayor Mansueto "Mansing" Malabor
For Mayor ................ former Councilor Joshua Alim
For Vice Mayor ....... former Councilor Linda Liberiaga
For Councilor:

1. Bert Liberiaga
2. Perla Zulueta
3. Victor Facultad
4. Rolando Dabao
5. Dan Cartagena
6. Boyet Rentoy
7. Joseph Nava
8. Nardy Villanueva
9. Johnny Young
10. Lex Tupas
11. Felix Muchada
12. Florencio Yap

Reports say that the opposition will file their certificates of candidacy on March 29, the last day of filing. Among the notables in the slate are Lex Tupas (son of Governor Niel Tupas), Bert Liberiaga (the husband of vice mayoralty bet Linda Liberiaga), Perla Zulueta (a local mediaperson and incumbent Councilor), Rolando Dabao (likewise a former Councilor and a close relative of actor Ricky Davao) and Victor Facultad (the city's former Vice Mayor and adopted son of the late Iloilo kingpin Nanding Lopez).

It seems that Ma'am Linda, who earlier declared her intention to contest the city's lone congressional seat, has given up on her quest and saw fit to just slide down to Vice Mayor citing that the campaign funding support promised by Mark Jimenez had not arrived. It also seems that Drilon's boy for Congress, Benjie Gengos, has been left out in the cold. Although isolated from the Malabor group, Atty. Gengos is insisting that he is the "anointed one" and refuses to give in to Malabor. Senator Drilon, who is reportedly on a trip abroad, should return posthaste to settle this issue once and for all. It does not look good to see the local opposition bickering over the "spoils" even before the egg is hatched.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Rambulan Na!

Congressman Jun Gonzalez and Mayor Jerry Treñas are scheduled to file their certificate of candidacies this Saturday, March 24, together with the rest of their ticket. A mass is scheduled for the candidates, their families and core supporters at 9:00 am at the Sta. Maria-Ateneo de Iloilo Chapel. Afterwards, the group will all together troop to the COMELEC office to symbolize their unity. The Gonzalez-Treñas ticket is comprised of the following:

For Congressman - Raul Gonzalez, Jr.
For Mayor - Jerry Treñas
For Vice Mayor - Jed Patrick Mabilog
For Councilor
Julienne "Jam Jam" Baronda (reelectionist)
Joe Espinosa III (reelectionist)
Armand Parcon (reelectionist)
Eduardo Peñaredondo (reelectionist)
Erwin Plagata (reelectionist)
Ely Estante (reelectionist)
Jeffrey Ganzon (reelectionist)
Lyndon Acap
Bobby Divinagracia
Edward Yee
Tony Pesina
Eldrid Antiquiera

With regards to the opposition in Iloilo City, reports say that they are scheduled to file their certificate of candidacies on the last day of filing, March 29. But the word is that they are still fighting among themselves and are leaderless (read more here). As I have reported here previously, the local opposition had a caucus with their leading light Senator Frank Drilon at the Sarabia Manor Hotel to decide who among them will run for what position. In that meeting, Drilon named lawyer Benjie Gengos (a person known to be especially loyal to him) as his bet for Congressman. But the other leading opposition figures in that caucus (namely, Joshua Alim, Dan Cartagena, Rex Rico and Mansing Malabor), seeing that Gengos is the least popular and the "weakest" among them, refused to abide by Drilon's decision and decided to push ahead with their own slate. Nothing is final yet but it seems the opposition ticket will be comprised of the following:

For Congressman - Former Mayor Mansueto Malabor
For Mayor - Former No. 1 Councilor Joshua Alim

The opposition slate for Vice Mayor and the 12 Council seats has not been firmed up yet, but the names of former Councilor Perla Zulueta, ex-Vice Mayor Vic Facultad and Dan Cartagena are being floated as possible vice mayoralty bets.

With less than 10 days to go till the March 29 deadline, the local opposition must get its act together fast. Otherwise, they will once again be massacred by the well-oiled Gonzalez-Treñas machinery in Iloilo City this coming 2007 elections.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Iloilo City Boy in Pasig City Jail (Day 2)

At 12 past midnight, the police informed Gemma's visitors that visiting time was over and that they were locking up the precinct. A "thoughtful" policeman even said "kailangan na po magpahinga ni Gemma" (Gemma needs to rest) perhaps to make the visitors get out faster. One by one, friends and colleagues hugged Gemma and gave her some last minute encouragement before leaving the police station. I prevailed upon the police to let me stay to accompany my wife inside, along with her Newsbreak colleagues Glenda Gloria and Carmela Fonbuena. After everyone have left, the four of us talked for a while (I took the time off to reply to unanswered text messages) but eventually dozed off right there in our respective seats one by one.

I woke up at around 5:00 am to see Glenda and Carmela gone. Gemma was already awake (we both were not able to sleep soundly) and she told me that they had gone home a few minutes earlier to freshen up. At around 7:00 am, my good friend Peter arrived bringing with him coffee, freshly-baked Pan de Pidro bread and some personal effects (i.e. our toothbrushes, some fresh clothes, etc.) which I asked him the night before to pick up in our apartment. By this time, radio reporters Edwin Sevidal of DZMM, Sam Nielsen of DZBB and Michael Rogas of RMN were already at the Pasig Police precinct angling for early morning news. Other reporters and newspaper photographers started arriving soon after and the precinct once again took on the "circus" atmosphere of the day before. The Pasig City police chief, Senior Superintendent Francisco Uyami Jr., arrived to look on Gemma (probably because he heard Anthony Taberna and Gerry Baja of DZMM radio lambast the Pasig PNP over the arrest). Gemma was also interviewed on radio by Mike Enriquez of DZBB and Ted Failon of DZMM.

At around 9:00 am, we were informed that Marites Vitug, Maan Hontiveros, Lala Rimando and Aries Rufo were already at the Pasig RTC together with their lawyer Atty. Rogelio Vinluan of ACCRA (ACCRA is handling the case pro bono) to surrender themselves before the judge. After their "voluntary surrender," the group were then brought to the Pasig City police station for processing of their bail where they were finally united with Gemma. Dressed all in white to symbolize their innocence and clean consciences, the media soon labeled them "The Newsbreak Five." More interviews followed, with reporters alternating between Gemma, Maan, Marites and Atty. Vinluan. As Governor Singson filed the libel case in Vigan, Atty. Vinluan in his interview said that he will petition the judge in Vigan, a person ominously called Judge Arquelada (no kidding!) for a change of venue citing that his clients cannot possibly get a fair trial because of Chavit's influence in that province. Maan Hontiveros, a veteran media practitioner who became famous during the 1986 EDSA Revolution, revealed that it was her first time to be arrested and booked in jail. Marites Vitug, another multi-awarded Filipino journalist who used to write for the defunct AsiaWeek Magazine, said that they will not be cowed and will continue to write investigative reports in the interest of the public's right to know. She also insisted that there was nothing libelous in the article they published on Governor Singson and that they will never apologize for reporting the truth.

I even made a cameo appearance on TV as the loyal husband (see my earlier post). Someone told Carlo Lorenzo, the GMA 7 reporter covering the story in Pasig that Gemma and I were supposed to celebrate our 10th anniversary as a couple last March 7 and he liked the human interest angle of the story ("inanguluhan" in industry parlance). As a person used to arranging media interviews (but always for clients and always behind the scenes), I still experienced some stage fright. But all in all, I think my TV debut came out alright and we came off as dignified and unafraid, lackadaisical even, of the libel case filed by Chavit. I just wish though that I could have taken a bath first for my very first TV appearance (there was a CR in the precinct but who really would dare take a bath there? The police might think we were getting "too comfortable" that they might just decide to lock us up for good).

At around 11:00 am, a police officer told Gemma that her release order has been approved and that she can already leave the precinct. But she decided to stay on to accompany her other four colleagues. It was already past 1:00 pm and each of us have not eaten yet and everybody was getting anxious to get out of the precinct. Everyone felt that the Pasig RTC was taking too long to receive the "Newsbreak Five's" bail money and process their release orders. Finally at around 2:00 pm, we were informed that the four journalists' release orders were already on their way from Pasig RTC (which is about 10 minutes away) and that our group could leave as soon as the police are in receipt of the the said orders. Just when everyone was in a jolly, celebratory mood, somebody arrived to spoil it. A certain Delia Bontuyan, who claimed she was the wife of Army Colonel Alan Bontuyan, arrived in the police precinct and verbally attacked Marites Vitug for writing an adverse article on her husband (read it here). She said that as a result of the Newsbreak report, her husband's career and reputation was ruined and that she was very thankful that someone finally had the courage to file a libel case against her. When pressed for more details about her identity and her husband's story, Mrs. Bontuyan refused to speak any further which lead some covering journalists to question her credibility. She also could not comment on questions na baka pakawala siya ni Chavit to destroy Vitug's reputation as a journalist. She was eventually escorted out of the precinct by Pasig police.

At around 3:00 pm, the "Newsbreak Five" finally were released by the Pasig police. After eating lunch in Podium, I brought Gemma home for a much-deserved rest. After a quick shower, I was off again to attend several meetings and finish some important matters. I went home past 3:00 am that day.


Here is Gemma's article which Chavit found libelous. Read more related stories here, here and here which discusses his links to the Metrowalk property in Ortigas, Pasig and his various properties in Ilocos.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

My Five Minutes

For the past few days, relatives and friends have been calling to express their sympathies and to tell that they saw me and Gemma on TV. I wasn't able to watch the news since we were "busy" in Pasig but thanks to technology I was able to see and download the footages here:

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

I made a "cameo" appearance here as the loyal husband. Watch:

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

Read more here and here.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Iloilo City Boy in Pasig City Jail

This week I spent the better part of Wednesday and Thursday (March 7 and 8) in the Pasig City Police Department office. My wife Gemma Bagayaua, the online editor and staffwriter for Newsbreak Magazine, was arrested by elements of the Pasig City Police due to the libel charge filed by senatorial candidate Luis "Chavit" Singson due to the article entitled "The Second Gentleman" they published about two years ago. The police also had warrants of arrest for Marites Vitug, Maan Hontiveros, Aries Rufo and Lala Rimando but since only Gemma was at the Newsbreak premises at the time they served the warrant, only my wife was arrested. All her other colleagues were attending meetings and conferences at that time.

When I received Gemma's text message that she was being detained at the Pasig Police Station, I was having a late lunch at Emerald Restaurant in Roxas Boulevard, Manila with Lito Banayo, Nixon Cua (who are both running for Vice Mayor and Councilor of Manila respectively under Fred Lim's ticket), Peter Sing, Raymond Burgos and former Congressman Harry Angping. Reading my wife's text message, I wasn't so bothered at that time considering that this was not the first time she had to face a libel charge. Variously, my wife has been accused of libel by Tony Leviste (for her article "Tony's Fortune" which by the way won the Jaime V. Ongpin award for investigative journalism in 2003) and the late Senator Bobby Barbers (for "Barber's Cut" which likewise won 2nd honors in the JVO Awards in 2003). She was also a co-accused in the libel charge filed by Senator Juan Ponce Enrile (which he has since withdrawn in exchange for one year's worth of subscription to Newbreak Magazine). So when I saw her text message, I did not take it with alarm but merely took it to mean as her way of saying "honey, I will be late for dinner." March 7 was our 10th anniversary as a couple and we always celebrated it by having dinner in a nice restaurant. After my lunch I had another meeting scheduled at Heritage Hotel and was supposed to pick her up after office hours at the Newbreak offices at Tektite, Ortigas and then to dinner. I was planning to take her to Cafe Juanita in Barangay Kapitolyo, Pasig for our 10th anniversary as a couple.

I was in the middle of my Heritage Hotel meeting when I received another text from Gemma asking me if I knew someone from Pasig (I used to PR for Pasig Mayor Enteng Eusebio). It seems that her lawyers (I wasn't able to get their names but they said they were junior lawyers from the firm of Harry Roque) were encountering "difficulties" at the Pasig RTC and that the people there were "uncooperative." Since my wife was arrested past 3:00 pm and the courts usually close at 4:30 pm, her window for posting bail was quite slim. Cecille, their staff at Newsbreak, was already stationed at the RTC Pasig Cashier's office pleading for the cashier, a certain Lea dela Cruz, to wait just a little more for the P10,000 bail money to arrive. But the Cashier's window was closed promptly at 4:30 pm and they failed to post bail. Her lawyers subsequently attempted to post the bail at the Quezon City Night Court. But when they arrived there around 6:00 pm, they found the "Night Court" already closed! Informed of the ongoings thru text, only then did the reality of the situation dawned on me: my wife may have to spend the night in the Pasig City jail. I hastily left Heritage Hotel and drove like a demon to Pasig.

When I arrived in Pasig, I found my wife being booked ("pinag-papiyano" in street parlance) at the Warrants and Subpoena Section. The next moments were a blur: answering calls from friends asking what's going on, how they can help, etc., making calls to authorities and seeking advice from my lawyer-friends on what to do next.

I am immensely thankful to friends who showed up in Pasig and helped us during our "hour of need." Among the first to arrive was my good friend and fellow PR practitioner Peter Sing who turned the ordeal into one big fiesta. He came bringing Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pan de Pidro and fed everyone in the precinct (yes, even the arresting police officers). Lynette Baldivino and Armand Sebastian also arrived. Dennis Gonzalez and wife Deeda Villadolid also visited us later that night along with former officemate Jeanette Bandiola. Gemma's colleagues in Newsbreak, Glenda Gloria and Carmela Fonbuena were with her all throughout her ordeal and also spent the night in the Pasig police station. Dax Lucas, my Ateneo classmate and now a business writer for Inquirer, also arrived (in barong too boot which lead people to think he was a fiscal, not a journalist). Vic Sanchez, who is well-known in Pasig being the son of the late human rights and labor lawyer Bobbit Sanchez, also dropped by to see if Gemma was well-treated. Members of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), led by Benny Antiporda and Allan Encarnacion, also arrived in force and held a vigil outside the Pasig Police department. I am also thankful to friends who texted in their support: Bright Liwanag, Obi Roco, Percy Flores, Errol Leones, Ed Carillo, Noel Ducusin, Roy Golez, Rommel Hinlo, Allan Dueñas, Cha Cha de Vera, Malou Espina, Lyn Rillon, Ding Gagelonia, and Lito Banayo. There were countless others who came, fellow journalists and complete strangers, who just wanted to show their support for Gemma. Thank you.

Later that night, I was informed by my wife's editors, Marites Vitug and Glenda Gloria, that Senator Drilon was willing to take Gemma in cognizance if we can find a judge to sign the release papers. By that time, I was already resigned to the fact of my wife spending the night in Pasig. With all the tsismisan (that's what you get when you put journalists and political operators in one room) and friendly banter, I was already "enjoying" myself and was no longer in the mood to go home. I think my wife, who seems to take her arrest as a "badge of honor," seems to be taking the incident better than me. I thought it was really embarrassing at first but later I realized to take my wife's arrest with dignity. Earlier, rumors circulated that Chavit is supposedly go to the precinct to "talk" to Gemma. Then a certain Susan Corpuz-Pabalan (together with two other ladies whose names I forget already) arrived claiming that they were representing Chavit. Gemma knew Susan well from their UP days where they were both members of the UP Student Council and SAMASA. She was even kind enough to bring a package of food and personal items for her. Susan's message basically was: apologize and the charges will be dropped. Of course, my wife said no. Not long after that, Gemma and senatorial candidate Mike Defensor (who was also a UP student leader in his day) talked on the phone. His message basically was: don't worry we are trying everything to have you released - to which my wife politely said thank you to. We were also informed that Camp Crame and Malacañang were closely monitoring the case and making sure that the incident will not go out of hand.

So after Marites told me about Senator Drilon's offer, I talked to Dennis Gonzalez and his brother Iloilo City Congressman Raul Gonzalez, Jr. if he knew of any judge who would be willing to sign the release order. Congressman Jun Gonzalez promptly replied saying that he will try to locate two of his UST Law School buddies who are now judges and that he had already informed his father, Justice Secretary Gonzalez, about the matter. At the same time I called up a lawyer-friend and sought his opinion on the "release on cognizance" avenue. The lawyer pointed out that since we were not able to pay the bail and get a receipt from the Pasig RTC in the first place, Gemma still cannot be released even on cognizance. Minutes later, Congressman Jun called to report that he is still unable to contact his friends (probably because of the lateness of the hour) but that he will continue trying to reach them. He also said that he had already informed his father, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, Sr. about the case and that in as much as his father would have wanted to intercede, he doesn't want to be seen calling judges and interfering in the case which by then has already attracted considerable media attention. I told him to stop bothering to look for a judge because Gemma was not able to post bail in the first place.

So there your are - in the end, all our legal wranglings and manueverings were defeated not by any high ranking official or influential politician but by a lowly clerk, an ordinary cashier in the Pasig Regional Trial Court!

So goes Day 1 of our ordeal. I will write about our Day 2 in Pasig tomorrow (which I promise has more drama than Day 1).

Monday, March 05, 2007

Capitol Owes City Hall an Apology

Except for the Capiz leg, the campaign sortie of the Genuine Opposition (GO) in Panay last week was one big, uncoordinated mess:

"More than 1,000 people attended the GO rally in Roxas City Friday courtesy of Sen. Mar Roxas, the acknowledged rising son of Capiz. GO candidate Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III said Roxas has always been very supportive of his fellow Liberals even when he was still trade secretary under the Estrada administration.

"We will give the support back in 2010," Aquino told students of the Capiz State University, hinting that Roxas might make a run for the presidency. "It took only about 24 hours or less for Sen. Roxas to mobilize the people. We are very grateful," Sonia Roco said.

Loren Legarda said the country is blessed with a a highly-skilled workforce and bountiful natural resources but a majority of its people continue to live in poverty.
She said despite Capiz’ rich marine and agricultural resources, 65 percent of its families have annual incomes lower than the national average. "Capiz is not the seafood capital for nothing. It also produces sugarcane, palay, coconut and cut flowers. So, if the province is rich, its people should also benefit," she said.

Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III challenged candidates of President Arroyo to justify their senatorial run when they campaigned hard for the abolition of the Senate at the height of the administration’s effort to amend the charter. "Running for senator under an ‘Abolish the Senate Platform’ is simply illogical. They are perpetrating a fraud upon the people," he said. Pimentel said the Arroyo-anointed candidates, once elected to the Senate, are expected to follow the administration’s game plan to revive charter change." – by Dennis Gadil and JP Lopez

But Capiz was the exeption rather than the rule. Earlier, GO cancelled its Iloilo and Antique rallies because of poor planning, coordination and preparation. GO's decision to cancel its rally in Iloilo supposedly due to unspecified "security threats" has caused quite a stir in the city. Reacting to the opposition's penchant of crying "security threat" each time they cancel their rally, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas (who is also President of the League of City Mayors) sarcastically warned his fellow mayors to watch out when GO comes campaigning in their respective areas as they might also fall victim to stories of "security threats." As it was amply reported in the national media last week, Treñas bemoaned the fact that the controversy put his city in a bad light. “I’ve been in politics since 1987 as city councilor and I never heard of any threat or trouble during political rallies here. If there is any threat, that would be in Plaza Miranda but not here,” Treñas said referring to the 1971 bombing of the Liberal Party rally. “We take any threat seriously. But we do not want that some elements will tarnish the reputation of the city just because of political differences,” Treñas said. “We had handled more than a million Dinagyang crowd and there was no security threat and everyone was safe. Such things clearly show that the city is safe,” he added.

Treñas also said: “We are striving to promote Iloilo City as we are trying to come up with positive developments. And in just one click, our efforts were all gone. It hurts – it’s unfair as we have been working hard for the promotion of the city. What will come to the mind of the investors – what will become of our city promotions?” said Treñas.

I think Iloilo Capitol officials owe Mayor Treñas and the people of Iloilo City an apology not only for lying about the true reasons behind their decision to cancel the rally but more importantly to correct the damage they have done to the city's image as a peaceful, civilized place (read more here, here, here and here).

Thursday, March 01, 2007

GO Sortie a Big Flop in Iloilo

The much-anticipated Genuine Opposition (GO) rally in Iloilo City turned out to be a big flop (read here) with less than 100 persons attending! Seeing the poor turn-out, rally organizers Senator Drilon, Governor Tupas and Mayor JV Ejercito decided to just cancel the rally (Iloilo Provincial Administrator Boy Mejorada had the uneviable task of going on stage to announce that the rally has been cancelled because of an "unspecified threat"). Threat or no threat, specified or unspecified, the sortie organizers did a great disservice to GO candidates who flew to Iloilo (namely Noynoy Aquino, Sonia Roco, Nikki Coseteng, Sonny Osmeña, Koko Pimentel, Chiz Escudero and Loren Legarda) expecting to win brownie points with Ilonggo voters. The trip was a total waste of the candidates' valuable time.

If I was the GO sortie organizer, I would have arranged for the candidates to just go campus-hopping and/or a handshaking tour in the numerous palengkes in Iloilo City then have them motor to Roxas City for the grand rally (with "handshaking whistlestops" along the way, especially in 5th district towns which is Governor Tupas' bailiwick). Knowing that Iloilo City is Gonzalez-Treñas Country, I would not risk "nga mapahiya" and would have picked Roxas City as the venue for the grand rally - opposition stalwart Mar Roxas I think would have done a better job producing a large crowd than Senator Drilon or Governor Tupas.

The GO campaign people will have to work double time to salvage their reputation considering that Iloilo was their first out-of-town sortie. Already, some opposition political operatives I know are grumbling and saying that the GO campaign is beginning to look like the 2004 FPJ campaign all over again.


Gengos is it!

Aside from the "GO Invasion" the other big news here is Benjie Gengos (pronounced "Heng-gos") being "anointed" by Senator Drilon to run against incumbent Congressman Raul Gonzalez, Jr. Earlier, Drilon met with the other congressional aspirants of the opposition namely, Joshua Alim, Rex Rico, Dan Cartagena and Benjie Gengos, to get them to agree to put up a united front against the much-vaunted Gonzalez-Treñas machinery. And it seems that Benjie Gengos, who is known to be deeply loyal to Drilon, is it! I just hope that the other three gentlemen will not break their word and run also for Congressman. If that happens, the local opposition in Iloilo City can say goodbye to their chances of defeating the solid Gonzalez-Treñas team.