Up until the eve of the elections, almost everyone in Iloilo City expected the Gonzalezes to win. On May 8 (Saturday), the Gonzalezes held a massive show of force thru their Miting de Avance at Freedom Grandstand which was attended by around 35,000 of their supporters. The day prior to that, the local Iglesia ni Cristo Chapter announced that they are supporting the Gonzalez father-and-son tandem (and Councilor Jam Baronda for vice mayor) and this seemed to many observers as the final nail in the coffin for the candidacies of Treñas and Mabilog. All throughout the campaign period, the Gonzalez camp have been busy “dishing out” various propaganda offensives which both Mabilog and Treñas found hard to counter, such as Jed’s transcript of records and Efren Gimeo’s land scam expose. It was also commonly believed that Treñas and Mabilog were having cash flow problems and that they did not have enough money to match the resources of the Gonzalezes. Faced with such daunting prospects, all that Treñas and Mabilog could do in response was to kneel down and pray for God’s help. And God did seem to hear their prayers, if we were to judge by the succeeding events.
Coffee shop pundits claim that Treñas and Mabilog won not so much because they had more money and the bigger machinery but more because the Gonzalez machinery collapsed on election eve. It is said that the 35,000-strong Women’s Brigade collapsed on the eve of elections because, seeing that the other camp was giving out P500, many of its members felt insulted receiving only P300 as “salary.” Brimming with confidence of their impending win, some Gonzalez barangay captains “withheld” the funds intended for election day purposes. In fact, a few days after the elections many of them went to Quintin Salas in order to return the “election budgets” they failed to release to the people.
Contrary to expectations and much to everybody’s surprise, the Treñas-Mabilog camp had money to spend on election day - their ward leaders were distributing P500 to P750 per voter. A source told me that the Treñas-Mabilog camp was in fact awash with cash because the local Filipino-Chinese Community delivered on their commitments and donated heavily at the last minute. And the local Filipino-Chinese community not only extended financial assistance, they actually came out in droves to vote for Treñas and Mabilog on election day, as a friend who regularly volunteers for the PPCRV observed. Thus, the “Chinese vote” effectively nullified the solid “Iglesia ni Cristo vote” of the Gonzalezes. And most Filipino-Chinese business owners had a “multiplier effect” since they compelled all their employees to vote straight for the Treñas-Mabilog ticket.
Thus, the May 2010 elections may very well signal a “paradigm shift” in how politics is played in Iloilo City. Power has now shifted from the barangay captains to the new local “king-makers” – the local businessman. The local Filipino-Chinese community, which control 90% of the businesses here, has demonstrated that they now have sufficient influence and clout to determine the outcome of elections in Iloilo City.