Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Who is the True "Boss" of Iloilo City?

Today marks the start of the official campaign period for national candidates. Unofficially, everybody knows that the campaign season started months ago what with national candidates swamping the airwaves with their infomercials and local candidates plastering the streets with their posters. This 30-day period (Feb 9 - Mar 9) is of vital importance to national candidates because after this "window" local candidates will start focusing on their own campaigns and will no longer be able to pay attention to national candidates.

At this point, Senators Manny Villar, Noynoy Aquino and Secretary Gibo Teodoro have the strongest "presence" in Iloilo City. Senator Villar has been studiously courting the Ilonggo vote and has in fact claimed to have Ilonggo roots. He has constantly visited the city and even had his daughter Camille Villar crowned as Jaro Fiesta queen a couple of years back. His expensive billboards and posters are plastered all over the city, his infomercials saturate the local airwaves and, in a brilliant move, was able to convince Mayor Trenas to run under his ticket. Senator Aquino is also popular, although he lacks "presence" in the city - I have yet to see a Noynoy poster or hear his ad in local media. Although a far third, Gibo Teodoro is enjoying a strong "presence" because he is being carried to the hilt by the Gonzalez machinery. His poster is displayed prominently and his name mentioned constantly in every Gonzalez "pulong-pulong." The city's student population also seems to be rooting for Gibo.

As for the vice presidential race, Senator Mar Roxas enjoys a significant lead over his closest opponent Senator Loren Legarda both in "presence" and popularity. Prominent are his posters and ads, and he enjoys the support of local politicians and civic leaders. Even Iloilo City Mayor Trenas, who is with the Nacionalista, has said that he will be supporting Mar instead of Villar's running mate Legarda.

After nine years of "political peace," local elections in Iloilo City once again promises to be an exciting one with former allies vying against each other. For the congressional race, Mayor Jerry Trenas is facing incumbent Raul Gonzalez Junior while Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog is going against Secretary Raul Gonzalez Senior for mayor. A "third force," headed by Undersecretary Larry Jamora (for mayor) and former Mayor Mansing Malabor (for congressman), promises to make the electoral fight really exciting. What makes it more interesting is the convoluted political set-up of the Trenas-Mabilog alliance. While allied, Trenas (who is running under Villar's Nacionalista Party) and Mabilog (who is under the Liberal Party) are not only supporting different "presidentiables" but also different vice mayoral and council candidates - Trenas is supporting his brother-in-law Councilor Joe Espinosa III while Mabilog is supporting the beauteous Councilor Jam Jam Baronda. If this is not enough, the indomitable Mel Carreon is also running ("only" for vice mayor this time) under the LLP party. When I asked him what LLP stands for, Carreon replied: "Laban Laban Perde."

Running under the LAKAS-CMD banner, the Gonzalez group at present enjoys the support of majority of barangay captains (158 out of 180 barangays), incumbent kagawads, ex-barangay officials and the city's organized urban poor. As the incumbent mayor, Trenas has the resources and coercive powers of City Hall backing him while Vice Mayor Mabilog has his formidable "movie-star" popularity and youthful appeal to bank on.

Passions are high and the local political atmosphere is truly acrimonious. Mayor Trenas fired the first salvo when, last November, he fired all the casuals in City Hall and replaced them with people loyal only to him, probably to demonstrate his powers as mayor. He also "failed to send" tickets to the Gonzalezes during the recent Dinagyang. In response, the pro-Gonzalez barangay captains in City Proper decided to boycott the festivities to protest this most glaring insult and hied off to a beach resort in Oton in the midst of the merrymaking. The children of Trenas were also shooed away by a Gonzalez partisan (incidentally an off-duty policeman) when they tried to distribute relief goods in a squatter colony in Barangay Nabitasan which was gutted by fire last month. The political mudslinging has even spilled over to YouTube (see previous entry below).

Now, City Hall employees are grumbling because their salaries have not yet been released, perhaps due to the COA report finding P3 million in unliquidated cash advances. According to radio reports, a certain Cristopher Cheng (or Tieng?), an employee at the City Treasurer's Office, is missing. The "Casuals as Casualties" and the City Hall salary debacle have seriously dampened morale and unless addressed at once, will prove to be Mayor Jerry's undoing.

As a result, the comfortable lead which Mayor Trenas enjoyed over his rival Congressman Gonzalez Junior is slowly being whittled away by recent events. By trying to show who is the true "boss" of Iloilo City, Mayor Jerry is unwittingly digging his own grave.


2 comments:

オテモヤン said...

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The Observer said...

It is obvious the family of DOJ/Pres'l adviser of Raul Gonzales is one of the powers/protector behind the illegitimate presidency of Mrs. Arroyo, therefore, they are the Arroyo protected leaders of Iloilo. They can cheat by any means.