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By Francis Allan L. Angelo and Lydia C. Pendon

THE “proxy political war” between two political behemoths in Iloilo City through punong barangays continues.

Mayor Jerry P. Treñas, who is running for congressman versus incumbent Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr., said he will not recognize new district presidents of three Associations of Barangay Captains (ABC) in the city.

Punong Barangays Carlos Guarin of Aguinaldo, LaPaz and Jonas Bellosillo of Simon Ledesma, Jaro lost the ABC district headship following the coup d ‘etat staged by their colleagues.

Roberto Divinagracia of San Agustin resigned the presidency of ABC-Iloilo City proper district.

Guarin, Bellosillo and Divinagracia are supporting Treñas’ candidacy for congressman.

Punong Barangay Ernie Poral of Ingore replaced Guarin after 16 of the 25 barangays captains voted Poral as ABC-LaPaz head.

Romualdo Jalandoni of Gen. Hughes took over Divinagracia’s post.

Barangay Captain Lovejoy Hosenilla of Buntatala, Jaro replaced Bellosillo after 22 of 42 punong barangays in Jaro ousted the latter.

But Treñas said he will continue to support and recognize the three ousted ABC presidents.

Treñas said he is still the city mayor and the barangay captains are under his jurisdiction.

He said that development projects will be coursed trough the incumbent barangay captains and ABC district presidents he recognizes.

“Lest they forget, I am the only one chief executive of this city and this chaos at the barangay level shows a dangerous pattern of local politics,” he said.

The mayor said barangay leaders should be left alone and they should remain non-partisan.

“They should stand firm and not follow unjust instructions from persons claiming to be powerful,” he said.

Treñas said the barangay leaders should be left alone and must remain non-partisan. They should stand firm and not follow unjust instructions from persons claiming to be powerful.

The Gonzalez camp claims 144 of the 180 barangay captains in seven city districts are loyal to their group.

Last Saturday, the ABC-LaPaz faction headed by Poral tried to hold an assembly at their office in LaPaz plaza but failed as the office was closed,

Poral said Guarin has yet to turn over the keys to the ABC-LaPaz office.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Tupas clan leads other families in the number of kin who will run for various posts in the 2010 elections.

Six Tupases will run for different positions in Iloilo province next year.

Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr. will run for congressman of the 4th congressional district and four of his children and a son-in-law are aiming for various elective posts: Rep. Niel “Jun-Jun” C. Tupas Jr. is seeking reelection in the 5th district, while Barotac Viejo Mayor Raul Tupas is running for Iloilo governor.

Niel C. Tupas III is gunning for the Barotac Viejo mayorship which Raul will vacate while Nielo C. Tupas is eyeing a seat in the Iloilo provincial board representing the 5th district.

Nielex “Lex” C. Tupas is seeking reelection as Iloilo City councilor. Parly Balleza, husband of Nielette “Tweety” Tupas, is running for the Sangguniang Bayan of Banate, Iloilo.

The Tupas regime at the Iloilo provincial capitol has been mired with issues of corruption starting with the overpriced construction of the new Capitol building and the controversial “borrow” pit project of the new Iloilo airport.

Commission on Audit reports have also questioned various transactions of the Capitol such as catering services worth millions of pesos, defective hospital equipment and suppliers with dubious qualifications.

Recently, Gov. Tupas got flak for obviously using government-owned heavy equipment in the construction of his house in Banate, Iloilo. He was also dragged in the bribery of the Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco) 3 directors by an independent power producer.

Aside from the Tupases, other families also fielded their own relatives in their respective turfs.

The Garin family continues to dominate the political landscape of the 1st congressional district. Rep. Jeanette L. Garin is seeking reelection while her husband, Board Member Oscar Richard S. Garin is running for Iloilo vice governor. Mayors Ninfa S. Garin and her daughter Christine S. Garin are also seeking fresh terms in the towns of San Joaquin and Guimbal, respectively.

In the 3rd district, House Majority Floor Leader Arthur D. Defensor Sr. is running for Iloilo governor. His son, Board Member Arthur R. Defensor, will try to replace him as 3rd district congressman.

Rep. Ferjenel G. Biron (Iloilo, 4th district) is also seeking reelection in the 2010 elections while his father, Barotac Nuevo Mayor Hernan Biron Sr. is gunning for his second term. Dumangas Vice Mayor Hernan G. Biron Jr. is seeking a seat in the Iloilo provincial board representing the 4th district.

Iloilo Vice Governor Rolex Tupas Suplico will run against his cousin, Rep. Jun-Jun Tupas in the 5th congressional district.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

IS the 18-year-old lad who filed his candidacy for the Iloilo provincial board under the Liberal Party for real or just a dummy for another candidate?

This, after it was found out that Nonito Pasuelo Jr., incumbent Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Federation president of Pototan, Iloilo, is too young to run in the 2010 election.

Pasuelo, who filed his certificate of candidacy (CoC) Tuesday, will run for the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Iloilo representing the 3rd district. He is running under the Liberal Party led by the party’s gubernatorial bet, Barotac Viejo Mayor Raul Tupas.

Based on Section 39(b) of the Local Government Code of 1991: “Candidates for the position of governor, vice-governor or member of the sangguniang panlalawigan, or mayor, vice-mayor or member of the sangguniang panlungsod of highly urbanized cities must be at least twenty-three (23) years of age on election day.”

Atty. Elizabeth Doronila, Iloilo election supervisor, said anyone who questions Pasuelo’s qualification can file a petition to deny or cancel his candidacy with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) within 25 days after the deadline of the filing of CoCs which is December 1.

Even if no petition to deny due course or to cancel a CoC is filed against any candidate, the Comelec can cancel his or her candidacy if the poll body finds that the candidate did not pass the requirements.

Political observers said Pasuelo might just be a dummy for another Liberal candidate in the 3rd district.

The more serious candidate might replace Pasuelo on or before December 14 which is the deadline for the filing of CoC for substitute bets, based on Comelec Resolution No. 8678 (guidelines on the filing of candidacy and nomination of official candidates of registered political parties).

Pasuelo’s substitute may also replace him midday of election day, May 10, 2010.

The Comelec resolution said the substitute for a candidate who died or suffered permanent incapacity or disqualified by final judgment may file his certificate of candidacy up to mid-day of election day.

Comelec also said that a person who has withdrawn his candidacy for a position shall be no longer be eligible as substitute candidate for any other position after the deadline for COC.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A CANDIDATE for the Sangguniang Bayan of Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo was arrested and jailed for oral defamation charges right after filing his certificate of candidacy Tuesday.

Antonio Parcon, former barangay captain of Poblacion Ilaya, Barotac Nuevo, found himself inside the jail cell of Barotac Nuevo PNP Tuesday afternoon.

Parcon was arrested on the strength of a warrant of arrest issued by the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Barotac Viejo and Banate.

Parcon is facing criminal charges filed by Diana Biron, mother of 4th district Rep. Ferjenel G. Biron, for allegedly maligning the complainant.

According to Mrs. Biron’s complaint, Parcon badmouthed their family in public by accusing them of murdering a househelp.

Parcon also allegedly accused Rep. Biron’s company of selling expired medicines which killed several persons.

He is running under the Liberal Party ticket headed by Barotac Vice Mayor Pedro Hautea who will challenge Mayor Hernan Biron, father of Rep. Biron.

Parcon said over Aksyon Radyo that he will face the charges against him even as he accused the Birons of orchestrating his arrest.

He said he is willing to stay in jail if only to generate sympathy from his townmates.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Garin family in southern Iloilo will go all out for House Majority Floor Leader Arthur D. Defensor in his gubernatorial bid in the 2010 elections.

This was the assurance of former congressman and Philippine Coconut Authority chief Oscar Garin amidst reports that he struck a deal with the Tupas camp.

The patriarch of the Garin clan said they will do everything they can to help Defensor win the gubernatorial race in the 1st congressional district.

Garin, whose son Board Member Richard Garin is Defensor’s running mate, said reports that he made a deal with the Tupases is a “divide-and-rule” tactic.

Reports said that Garin and the Tupases have agreed to support Barotac Viejo Mayor Raul Tupas for governor and BM Garin for vice governor, thereby leaving Defensor in the cold.

The reports said the Garins will campaign for Tupas in the 1st district while the Tupases will carry BM Garin in the 5ht district.

The Tupases reportedly agreed not to field any candidate against the Garin group as part of the deal.

One sign of the deal is the candidacy of former Miag-ao mayor and PNP general Gerardo Flores for the provincial board instead of running against incumbent 1st district Rep. Jeanette Garin.

The Garins will also support Flores’ candidacy as part of the deal.

Garin said his reported deal with the Tupases is only meant to stir and break their alliance with Defensor.

“Whoever concocted these information maybe wants Arthur (Defensor) to react and vent his ire on us. But we all know that he is an astute and broad-minded politician. This is just plain intrigue,” Garin said in separate interviews with Bombo Radyo and Aksyon Radyo.

Garin said the Tupases will have a hard time looking for candidates who will oppose their slate in the first district.

He cited the case of Oton where Mayor Vincent Flores who has settled his dispute with Vice Mayor Jose Neil Olivarez.

“If Mayor Flores has no opponent, it’s not because of any godfather or deal. It is because he reconciled with his potential rival,” Garin said.

Garin said they will support the candidacy of former Oton mayor Carina Flores for the Iloilo provincial board.

Garin said he will not be compelled to dance to other people’s tune.

“They want other people to fight their own war by sowing these stories. We will do everything to help Art Defensor in the 1st district,” he said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

IT’S still Defensor-Garin all the way to the May 2010 elections.

This was the firm assurance of Board Member Oscar Richard S. Garin as regards his tandem with House Majority Arthur D. Defensor Sr. who is seeking the governorship of Iloilo.

Garin cleared the air of the yarn that his father, Philippine Coconut Authority Administrator Oscar Garin struck an alliance with the Tupases to support the gubernatorial run of Barotac Viejo Mayor Raul Tupas.

“There is no deal with the Tupases. If ever that is true, it’s unethical. Although my father and Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. have maintained their friendship after running against each other in 2004, there have been no talks or negotiations about our political plans with them,” Garin said after filing his candidacy for vice governor Monday morning.

Stories filtering out of the Tupas camp say the Garins will support Mayor Tupas in the 2010 elections. In exchange, the Tupases, who are members of the Liberal Party, will not field candidates against the Garin group.

BM Garin said that if his wife, Rep. Jeanette Garin and mayors in their camp don’t have opponents in next year’s polls, it’s because of their respective accomplishments and efforts as public officials, not for any political deal.

He said that if his father and Gov. Tupas were seen talking in the past days, “it’s because they get invited to the same occasions aside from maintaining their cordial relationship.”

“If ever my father talks to Gov. Tupas, I never authorized him to talk about my politics. The same thing is true for Gov. Tupas. My father did not even convince me run for vice governor. This is my own independent decision. We, the children of these two political leaders, are mature enough to decide on our political path,” he added.

Garin said they continue to be committed to Rep. Defensor’s gubernatorial run next year.

“I support the candidacy of Rep. Arthur Defensor for governor. Seven months ago, we heard that my father is interested to run for governor. He later clarified that he will not run but he will support Rep. Defensor. Our family including my wife and father are still committed to Rep. Defensor. We will exert our effort to support him,” Garin said.

Garin said his tandem with Defensor “is a combination of a good planner and a good project implementor.”

“Rep. Defensor has a dream of decent, honorable and transparent governance. And I join him in this vision that’s why I am running with him,” he added. 

Defensor and Garin went to the Commission on Elections provincial office in LaPaz, Iloilo City past 10am to formalize their candidacies.

They were accompanied by their candidates for the Sangguniang Panlalawigan – former congressman Licurgo Tirador and Juanito Acanto (3rd district), Rodolfo Cabado (2nd district) and JR Salcedo (5th district).

The Defensor-Garin tandem will carry the Lakas-Kampi-CMD banner although they have a tactical alliance with 4th district Rep. Ferjenel G. Biron who is running under the Nacionalista Party.

Dr. Macario Napulan, who is seeking his third term as provincial board member, will team up with former Oton mayor Carina Flores in the 1st district under the Lakas-Kampi banner. They filed their certificates of candidacy (CoC) along with Rep. Jeanette L. Garin.

In the 5th district, Board Member Jett Rojas will file his candidacy for a second term in the SP along with Vice Gov. Rolex T. Suplico who will try to recapture his old seat as congressman.

Dumangas Vice Mayor Hernan G. Biron Jr. and Dueñas Sangguniang Bayan Member Ronald Cajuya have filed their CoCs for the provincial board representing the 4th district.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

HOUSE Majority Floor Leader Arthur D. Defensor Sr. told his detractors to stick to the real issues hounding the Iloilo provincial government instead of sowing intrigues and black propaganda.

This was Defensor’s reaction to those who question his health and his alliance with the Garin clan of the 1st congressional district.

Rumors apparently spread by the camp of Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. claimed that the Tupases struck an agreement with the Garins to support the candidacy of Barotac Viejo Mayor Raul Tupas for governor.

Defensor said the story is plain black propaganda as his alliance with his vice gubernatorial bet, Board Member Richard Garin is still intact and continues to grow strong.

“This early the other camp is spreading intrigues because they saw the strength and unity of our group. Our group’s campaign is getting stronger by the day,” Defensor said.

Defensor said those who spread the rumor are getting desperate “and they are looking for ways to put a wedge between me and the Garins.”

He added that the Garins are not double talkers who renege on their political commitments.

“Unlike the others, the Garins don’t double cross or dupe anybody. They are very candid and sincere in their politics which they conducted with honor,” Defensor said.

Aside from the Garins, Defensor said 33 out of the 43 mayors in Iloilo province are supporting his comeback to the provincial capitol.

As regards his age and health, Defensor said he is still in the pink of health.

“I am very healthy for the upcoming campaign. And I am not that old enough. Those are not the main issues as I am alive and kicking,” Defensor said.

The House majority leader said the main issue that must be addressed is change and reform in the capitol.

“What should be answered is: Is there a need for new leadership at the capitol to usher in changes and reform? If we want change, then we must give others the chance to upgrade and change the image of the capitol.”

Defensor is running on the platform of instituting change and reform at the capitol which has been mired with issues of graft and corruption under Tupas rule.

Defensor said he wants to restore honor and decency in the provincial government aside from providing efficient delivery of social services.    

Defensor, BM Garin and their entire slate for the provincial board will file their certificates of candidacy with the Commission on Elections today.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE alliance between House Majority Floor Leader Arthur D. Defensor Sr. and Iloilo 4th district Rep. Ferjenel G. Biron remains intact even if they belong to different parties now.

Biron made the assurance after he formally transferred to the Nacionalista Party (NP) of Senator Manuel Villar Friday morning.

Defensor will run for Iloilo governor in 2010 under the ruling Partido Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

“My alliance with Rep. Defensor remains even if we are in different parties. He will be my candidate for governor as I believe that he is the only person who can purify and bring decency to the provincial government,” Biron said.

Biron, who will seek his third 3-year term as congressman, said he will also support Board Member Oscar Richard Garin, Defensor’s running mate.

He also clarified reports that the decision of Lakas-Kampi to field Jesry Palmares as its mayoral bet in Passi City is the reason why he jumped to NP.

“I already told Rep. Defensor about this plan a year and a half ago because I have always supported Sen. Villar. And I believe in the senator’s capability and track record to lead the country,” he added.

Biron and Palmares had a falling out after the 2001 election when the latter supported the late Rep. Narciso Monfort despite striking a deal and receiving financial support from the doctor-cum-businessman-turned-politician.

Biron said he already told Defensor about his plan to transfer to NP more than a year ago.

Defensor said Lakas-Kampi will not field a candidate against Biron in the 4th congressional district.

Defensor said his alliance with Biron remains strong even if they support different presidential bets.

He said he will make sure that nobody from the ruling party will run against Biron in the 2010 elections.

“As chairman of Lakas-Kampi in Iloilo and Western Visayas, I have the power to issue certificates of nomination and acceptance to candidates. I will make sure that no one will oppose Rep. Biron,” Defensor added.

Aside from Biron, mayoral candidates under his group also joined NP during the oath taking rites Friday at Hotel del Rio. These are incumbent mayors Hernan Biron Sr. of Barotac Nuevo, Ma. Teresa Debuque of Anilao, Rufino Palabrica of Dingle, Robert Martin Pama of Dueñas, Trixie Fernandez of San Enrique, and Ronaldo Golez of Dumangas,  and Dr. Betita Cobarrubias of Banate and Dr. Hope Palmares-Lapating of Passi City.

Biron’s candidates to the Iloilo provincial board are his brother Hernan Biron Jr. and Ronald Cajuya of Dingle.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

CHIEF Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. challenged former senator Franklin Drilon to run in Iloilo City and face the former in a debate.

Gonzalez issued the challenge to Drilon after the latter made his “Triple J versus Triple G” statement during the mass oath taking of Liberal Party members in Iloilo City Wednesday.

Drilon was referring to the alliance of Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas (congressman), Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog (mayor) and Councilor Julienne Baronda (vice mayor) in the 2010 elections.

With Triple G, Drilon meant “guns, goons and gold”, an apparent swipe at the Gonzalez camp.

Sec. Gonzalez Sr. will run for mayor under Partido Lakas-Kampi-CMD while his son Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr. will seek a second term. Councilor Antonio Pesina is the older Gonzalez’s running mate.

Sec. Gonzalez said Drilon’s statements were irresponsible for a former Senate president to make.

“Do you know any goons that I hire? Do you know of anyone I hurt or harassed during elections? I don’t have guns and goons. Gold maybe because I also have my own resources,” he said.

He said he is not very affluent “because I don’t have money that Drilon earned from (the airport project in) Cabatuan.”

Sec. Gonzalez said he does not understand why Drilon keeps on sniping at him “when I supported until 2004.”

“In 2001, I urged my supporters to support him also. I don’t know why he is after my head,” he added.

For the older Gonzalez, Drilon hates competition in Iloilo City politics reason why he keeps on criticizing the former.

“He wants to be the only kingpin in Iloilo City. But I’m wondering why he did not run for congressman in Iloilo City in 2007 even if he transferred his voter’s registration here,” Gonzalez said.

Drilon also boasted of his numerous projects in Iloilo City when he was still senator, something the Gonzalezes failed to do in their 15 years of rule in the metropolis.

But Gonzalez said he cannot compare himself to Drilon who had bigger pork barrel when he was still in the Senate.

“Senators have bigger pork barrels than congressmen. And they control their own allocation while the House has to make use of whatever is allocated to them,” he said.

Gonzalez said Drilon should show his true spunk by running for Iloilo City mayor and face him in a debate on projects and Iloilo City politics.

“Maybe you should also ask Drilon if any Ilonggo was able to enter his Senate office. During my time at the Department of Justice, anybody can enter even if they are wearing slippers and short pants. I don’t know with Drilon,” he said.

He said Drilon should think first before opening his mouth “because he does not know what he is saying.”

Biron leads fresh batch of Nacionalistas

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MORE political figures in Iloilo province will join the Nacionalista Party (NP) headed by presidential bet, Sen. Manuel Villar.

Rep. Ferjenel G. Biron (4th district, Iloilo) will lead the latest batch of political leaders who will take their membership oath before Villar at Hotel del Rio today.

Biron said in a phone interview that he will bring the entire 4th district under NP’s umbrella.

“All the mayoral and vice mayoral candidates in the six towns of the 4th district will also join NP. Our two bets to the provincial board will also take oath as Nacionalista members,” Biron said.

Biron said he believes that Villar is the “most qualified, prepared and experienced” presidential bet in 2010.

“Nobody can dispute his experience of rising from poverty and track record as a leader. I believe that every Filipino should have his spirit of hard work and perseverance,” he added.

Biron said it was hard for him to leave the ruling Partido Lakas-Kampi-CMD which persuaded him to stay.

“It was painful for me but the more honorable thing for me to do is to get out and join the (NP) party. I have been very close to the Villars ever since,” Biron said.

Last Monday, key politicians in the city and province of Iloilo also jumped to NP. Led by Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas who will run for congressman under the NP banner, the new NP members were vice mayoral candidate, Councilor Jose Espinosa III and councilorables Roberto Divinagracia, Ronnie Firmeza, Edward Yee and Johnny Young also joined NP.

Iloilo Mayor Romulo Cabana of Leon; Antique Mayors Aser Baladjay of Lauan, Bernard Pesayco of Bugasong, Reynante Lim of Caluya; Mayor Arturo Orosco of Sapian, Capiz and Board Members Patricio Gange and Roy Habaña of Guimaras province have jumped to Villar’s group.

Villar earlier said they are in talks with other political leaders in Iloilo province.

When asked if other Ilonggo officials will follow his move, Biron said it is up to his colleagues to decide.

“I cannot preempt anyone in deciding. As of now, we cannot say they might or might not join NP. My decision is independent of other leaders,” he said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THERE’S a 50-50 chance that Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) Director General Augusto Syjuco will reclaim his old seat in the 2nd congressional district of Iloilo.

Syjuco said one of the factors that might compel him to run for congressman in 2010 is the health of his wife, incumbent Rep. Judy Jalbuena-Syjuco.

Syjuco said the congresswoman underwent hip surgery recently which affected her mobility.

“Her condition will definitely be a factor. But we have not decided yet. Everything is still 50-50 as of this time. Rep. Syjuco is getting stronger by the day,” he said.

Syjuco was reportedly being eyed to run for Senator under the Partido Lakas-Kampi-CMD but he was not included in the slate during the party’s national convention Thursday.

Executive Eduardo Ermita on Wednesday said Syjuco will quit Tesda to run for congressman in the 2nd district.

Political observers said Syjuco will run because of the candidacy of Pavia Mayor Arcadio Gorriceta and Ramoncito “Citoy” Arenas for congressmen.

But Syjuco said he is not threatened by Gorriceta and Arenas even as he taunted the capabilities of his potential rivals.

“I guess the Arenases should do some studying first because they have many things to know about the 2nd district. Imagine Mr. Arenas saying that Pototan is in the 2nd district when it is in the 3rd district. He also said that Panay Electric Co. is the distributor of power in our district when it’s Iloilo Electric Cooperative,” he said.

Syjuco added that Arenas is more of a threat to the people of the 2nd district than to his political career.

As regards Gorriceta, Syjuco said the mayor is losing Pavia to Lucille Villanueva.

Villanueva’s name surfaced as Syjuco’s mayoral bet in Pavia when candles bearing her name and the Syjuco couple were distributed in the town last All Souls’ and Saints’ Days.

ON MEJORADA

Syjuco also clarified his side on the exclusion of Iloilo Provincial Administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada from the voters’ list of Alimodian, Iloilo.

Mejorada accused Syjuco of instigating Ireneo Mondero to destroy the former’s nipa hut at Brgy. Pajo, Alimodian and to file the exclusion case to prevent the capitol executive from running in the 2nd district.

“I admit that Ireneo Mondero is my friend for 13 years. But our friendship is not the issue but Boy Mejorada’s debt to Mondero. The reason why his so-called house was destroyed is that he failed to pay for the lot of Mondero,” he added.

Syjuco also described Mejorada as an “aswang” (flesh-eating ghoul) for transferring his address from one place to another.

“He flew from Capiz to Sta. Barbara but he never landed. He transferred to Pavia but he was excluded. He tried to go to Alimodian but he was also excluded.”

Mejorada initially hurdled past the exclusion case filed with the Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC)-Aleosan.

But the Regional Trial Court reversed the MCTC’s decision and ordered Mejorada’s deletion from the voters’ list of Brgy. Pajo.

In an interview with Bombo Radyo-Iloilo, Mejorada said the Syjucos should allow him to run if they don’t perceive him as a threat to their rule in the 2nd district.

Mejorada said he does not mind being called an aswang because it connotes that he is a genuine Ilonggo.

“The Syjucos landed on Iloilo from Makati,” he added.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo 

THE Syjucos of the 2nd congressional district of Iloilo cannot stomach another Tupas to occupy the governor’s office.

Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director General Augusto Syjuco said they are committed to the candidacy of House Majority Floor Leader Arthur D. Defensor Sr.

Rep. Defensor is aiming to re-occupy the governor’s office versus Barotac Viejo Mayor Raul C. Tupas, son of incumbent Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr.

“(We will support) Art Defensor definitely. I am morally, emotionally, physically committed (to support Art Defensor). And I am committed with a great sense of righteousness. My conscience would bother me if I become committed with Tupas instead,” Syjuco said.

Syjuco said he has been disappointed with the controversies and scandals that rocked the Tupas reign in the provincial capitol.

Syjuco and his wife, incumbent 2nd district Rep. Judy J. Syjuco, led the birthday party for the TESDA chief at the Iloilo Grand Hotel Wednesday.

The celebration was also an early Christmas party for the Syjucos’ supporters in 2nd district. Five town mayors were present – Gregorio Brazas of Zarraga, Romulo Cabana of Leon, Liecel Mondejar-Seville of New Lucena, Juanito Alipao of Alimodian and Gregorio Villarico of San Miguel.

Sta. Barbara Mayor Isabelo Maquino was not present but he sent a representative, municipal councilor Rema Gumban.

When asked about their support for Board Member Richard Garin who is Defensor’s running mate in 2010, Syjuco said he will sit with the former to discuss the 2nd district’s support for his candidacy.

Syjuco and Garin’s father, Philippine Coconut Administration chief Oscar Garin, had a falling out when the Syjucos supported Gov. Tupas in the 2004 gubernatorial race.

Syjuco initially pledged to support Garin but sided with the Tupases during the last days of the campaign period.

A compromise on the controversial “borrow pit” operation in the new Iloilo airport project, which was the cause of a bitter rift between Tupas and Syjuco, is believed to be the reason why the Syjucos rooted for Tupas.

“I must sit down with Richard Garin to talk about the support of the second district. I understand he will be formally seeking our support and we are willing to listen,” he said.

Syjuco said there has been no great conflict between him and the Garins, “just a misunderstanding and difference in personalities.”

“I don’t carry a grudge, especially in politics. The same people who fight in politics also ally together. Politics is a liquid and dynamic situation. I have no problems working with the Garins or with endorsing Richard Garin. If he seeks my endorsement, I will commit,” he said.

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

HOUSE Majority Floor Leader Arthur Defensor Sr. dispelled insinuations that the Garins of the first congressional district of Iloilo will not ally with him in the 2010 gubernatorial race.

 

A crisp laugh was Defensor’s reply when told about the pronouncement of Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada that former congressman Oscar Garin will shun a Defensor-Garin tandem in next year’s polls.

 

Defensor is reportedly eyeing the governor’s office while his likely running mate is Board Member Richard Garin, the son of Oscar who is now the administrator of the Philippine Coconut Authority. 

 

Mejorada based his analysis on the result of the 2004 gubernatorial race between Garin and Governor Niel Tupas Sr. in the third congressional district, Defensor’s constituency. The result showed that Tupas garnered 416,593 votes against Garin’s 254,751.

 

Mejorada said Garin could be hurting from the trouncing he got in the third district despite his alliance with Defensor.

 

Defensor said Mejorada is just trying to foment intrigue.

 

“That’s not true. Ga pang intriga lang si Mejorada. Has he talked to (Oscar) Garin?” Defensor said.

 

Defensor said his option to reclaim the top Capitol seat “is almost likely” next year.

 

“The Defensor-Garin tandem is 90 percent done. We will reveal the other details because we don’t want to telegraph our punches at this time,” he added.

 

Reports from the Garin camp said Board Member Richard Garin, his wife Rep. Jeannette Garin (1st district, Iloilo) and Rep. Ferjenel Biron (4th district, Iloilo) will support the Defensor-Garin tandem in the 2010 polls.

 

Board Member Garin said in an interview with Aksyon Radyo that Defensor should reach out to his father Oscar “because we want the family to make a unified decision.”

 

“I am grateful for the trust of Rep. Defensor but they should also talk to my father because he is our recognized leader. And he must be consulted because he has his own political plans,” BM Garin said.

 

NOT A LOSS

 

Defensor also pooh-poohed the looming alliance of former vice governor Roberto “Obet” Armada with Barotac Viejo Mayor Raul “Boboy” Tupas who is eyeing to succeed his father as governor.

 

Armada was identified with Defensor’s group, particularly during the foiled suspension of Governor Tupas January 2007. 

 

“We will not lose anything if Obet aligns with the Tupases. It’s his own decision,” Defensor said.    

 

He also denied reports that he abandoned Armada in the 2007 gubernatorial polls. “That’s not true. Intriga lang na kag indi salapakun nga istorya.”

 

 

THREE-CORNERED RACE 

 

Defensor believes that a three-cornered race in the third congressional district will benefit his son, Board Member Arthur Defensor Jr.

 

BM Defensor, former agrarian reform secretary Rene Villa and lawyer Zafiro “Boy” Lauron are touted as contenders in the third district.

 

The older Defensor said they are ready to face those who will challenge them next year.

 

“We don’t care if how many (candidates) will run in the third district. Given the quality of our leadership, my accomplishments and the qualifications of my son, he will win,” Defensor said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE national redistricting bill is nearing approval by Congress, according to a top Ilonggo official.

 

Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. said the Senate and House of Representatives are reconciling the two versions of the bill which will increase the number of congressmen in the country.

 

The House version, which was authored by Iloilo City Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr., proposes 50 additional seats while the Senate wants to add 100 seats.

 

If the bill is passed, the number of congressmen will increase from 238 to as much as 300.

 

Sec. Gonzalez, however, said that filling up the 100 additional seats in the House will depend on the country’s population.

 

The 1986 Constitution mandates that a congressional district should have a 250,000 population.

 

The DoJ chief said the redistricting bill is in keeping with the principle of taxation.

 

“The power to tax is the most potent power of the state. That’s why you need representation in order that taxation can be properly represented for the people,” he added.

 

The national redistricting bill came to fore after the Senate committee on local government headed by Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III was flooded with numerous redistricting measures from Congress.

 

Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile then suggested that the House lump the individual bills into a single measure to facilitate its passage.

 

Enrile had assured the Gonzalezes that the bill will be passed as soon as possible.

 

Rep. Gonzalez earlier filed a bill creating the second congressional district of Iloilo City.

 

The younger Gonzalez said the creation of the second district will fast track the development of the city as it will mean more pork barrel allocations.

 

But critics of Rep. Gonzalez’s redistricting bill said the city did not pass the 250,000 population requisite in the Constitution as the total population of the metropolis is only more than 418,000.

 

The bill was also seen as way to avert a political confrontation between the Gonzalezes and Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas who will end his third 3-year term in 2010.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has affirmed unanimously the resolution of its 2nd Division declaring Alex A. Centena as the winner of the May 14, 2007 vice mayoralty race in Calinog, Iloilo over incumbent Mayor Salvador Divinagracia.

 

In a 50-page en banc resolution promulgated January 26, 2008, the poll body declared that Centena won 8,130 votes against Divinagracia’s 8,119 votes.

 

This latest Comelec ruling gives Centena the chance to assume as Calinog mayor after then mayor Teodoro Lao died March 2008 while the former’s election protest was pending.

 

Centena questioned the results of the elections through an election protest against Divinagracia before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Iloilo City.

 

His protest focused on marked ballots considered valid by the Boards of Election Inspectors (BEIs) causing him to narrowly lose to Divinagracia by 13 votes.

 

But the RTC dismissed Centena’s protest December 5, 2007 saying he failed to overcome the disputable presumption provided in the Rules of Procedure in Election Contest.

 

Centena, assisted by lawyer Francisco Sibayan, assailed the RTC decision before the Comelec 2nd Division presided by Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer.

 

On July 17, 2008, the Comelec 2nd Division reversed the RTC decision because it violated Section 2, Rule 14 of A.M. No. 07-4-15-SC.

 

“Instead of adhering to the mandatory requirements provided under the above-mentioned Rule, the trial court undertook to discuss, in a general manner, the reasons why the contested ballots should not be declared as ‘marked.’ This is not in accord with the Rule promulgated by no less than the Supreme Court,” the 2nd Division said.

 

The division found out that “protestant-appellant Alex Centena garnered 8,130 votes while protestee-appellee Salvador Divinagracia Jr. obtained 8,122 votes or a winning margin of 8 votes in favor of the former.”

 

“Considering that protestant-appellant Alex Centena garnered more votes than protestee-appellee Salvador Divinagracia Jr., there is no dispute that Alex Centena is the duly elected Vice Mayor of the Municipality of Calinog, Iloilo in the 14 May 2007 elections,” it said.

 

Divinagracia filed a motion for reconsideration with the Comelec en banc which reaffirmed the 2nd Division’s ruling.

 

The poll body said it is “disappointed over the deportment displayed by Divinagracia and his legal counsel” during the hearing on the motion for reconsideration “specifically on the baseless accusations they hurled against one member of the Commission.”

 

“This behavior showed disrespect to the dignity and authority of this Commission while performing quasi-judicial functions,” the en banc resolution said.

 

The en banc resolution also directed Divinagracia and his counsel to file their joint manifestation within five days explaining why they should not be cited for contempt.

 

The resolution was signed by Comelec chair Jose A.R. Melo and Commissioners Rene V. Sarmiento, Nicodemo T. Ferrer, Leonardo A. Leonida, Lucenito N. Tagle and Armando C. Velasco.

 

Centena said he is awaiting the instructions of the Department of Interior and Local Government regarding his assumption of the Calinog mayor’s office.

 

Centena also asked Divinagracia to take the issue in a professional manner to avoid disputes in their town.

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ILOILO Governor Niel Tupas Sr. owns more than P25 million worth of properties, based on his latest statement of assets and liabilities net worth (SALN) submitted to the Human Resource Management and Development Office (HRMDO).

 

Tupas’ SALN for 2006 also shows that he is liquid having no liabilities or debts. His SALN for 2007 is unavailable.

 

The 2006 SALN show that he owns P22,000,080 worth of residential and agricultural properties.

 

The properties include five residential houses and lots in the town of Barotac Viejo; Las Palmas Subdivision in Jaro, Iloilo City; and Purdue, Quezon City in Metro Manila. His agricultural lands are located in Barotac Viejo.

 

In terms of personal and other properties, Tupas owns P1.14 million worth of furniture and fixtures while his jewelry amounted to P1.39 million.

 

The governor also owns five vehicles of various makes with a total value of P1.047 million.

 

Tupas reported in his SALN P300,000 worth of agricultural produce and improvements, his growing crops valued at P351,175.

 

The governor’s cash-on-hand in 2006 amounted to P447,316.

 

In sum, Tupas is worth P25,662,771.01 after accumulated depreciation amounting to P2,134,720.

 

As regards his sprawling residence in Hechanova, Jaro, records from the Iloilo City Assessor’s Office show that Tupas bought the property for P6.5 million via bank auction in 2005.

 

Ownership of the Hechanova property was transferred to Niel and Myrna Tupas December 19, 2008.

 

The property has a total land area of 1,894 square meters with an assessed value of P2,462,200. The house is valued at P3,935,550.

 

The HRMDO is set to release the governor’s 2007 SALN not later today.

 

Tupas nephew, Iloilo Vice Governor Rolex Suplico has urged the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to ask the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct a lifestyle check on the governor.

 

Suplico said he cannot recall any prominent person who paid Tupas a handsome fee for his legal services before the latter entered politics, debunking Tupas’ claims that the money he used to purchase the Hechanova property came from his legal fees.

 

The vice governor also scoffed at Tupas’ failure to answer the checks the former issued from 1998 to 2001. The checks represented the financial assistance Suplico extended to his uncle at P70,000 a month.

 

Suplico said Tupas cannot own multimillion properties on his P29,000 monthly salary.

 

But Tupas corrected the vice governor saying his salary is P34,939 a month aside from his representation and travel allowance amounting to some P10,000 monthly.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

MAYOR Raul “Boboy” Tupas of Barotac Viejo, Iloilo brushed aside stories that his fellow mayors have abandoned him in his reported bid for Iloilo governorship in 2010.

 

This was Tupas’s reaction to a report that majority of Iloilo mayors preferred to meet Rep. Arthur Defensor (3rd district, Iloilo) last November 19 instead of joining a dinner with Senator Mar Roxas.

 

Tupas is reportedly running for governor opposite Defensor who will attempt a comeback in the Iloilo Capitol after finishing his three 3-year terms as congressman.

 

Tupas said their original intention was to meet Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri at the sidelines of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) national convention November 19-21.

 

The proposed meeting with Zubiri, which was discussed during the LMP-Iloilo 11th regular meeting in Lambunao a week before the national convention, will focus on the senator’s P500,000 financial aid to each Iloilo mayor.

 

“We discussed the meeting in the house of Lambunao Mayor Reynor Gonzales where we decided to convince Senator Zubiri to write the Department of Public Works and Highways that the mayors will forge memoranda of agreement with his office so that the municipalities will implement projects using his aid,” Tupas said.

 

Tupas said a total of 26 Iloilo mayors attended the national convention held at the Manila Hotel.

 

On November 18, a staff of Roxas called Tupas and invited LMP-Iloilo members to a dinner at the senator’s residence in Cubao, Quezon City.

 

Since they were already committed to meet Zubiri at the Emerald Hotel, Tupas said he told Roxas’ staff that they will just catch up.

 

Incidentally, Reps. Defensor and Ferj Biron (4th district, Iloilo) also called up the mayors to a meeting also at the Emerald Hotel, Tupas said.

 

“We were put in a quandary because some of the mayors told me that they will meet their respective congressmen. Our original intention was to meet Senator Zubiri because of his financial aid. But Mina Mayor Rey Grabato later said that we will honor the invitation of the congressmen and will try to catch up with the dinner with Senator Roxas,” he said.

 

The mayor said they later decided that he and Mayor Carlos Cabangal will go ahead at the Roxas residence while their fellow chief executives will meet Zubiri and the congressmen.

 

In his recollection of what his fellow mayors told him, Defensor, Biron, Iloilo Vice Governor Rolex Suplico, former Senate president Manny Villar and his wife Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar met the Iloilo mayors at Emerald Hotel.

 

“The other mayors said politics was not discussed in their meeting with the congressman because their main purpose was to see Senator Zubiri. It just so happened that the congressmen decided to hold their meeting at the Emerald Hotel also when they learned that we will meet with the senator,” Tupas said.

 

Tupas said he did not insist or pressure his fellow mayors to meet Roxas at their family’s “White House” in Cubao.

 

“I told them that they can catch if they want to. Pressuring other people is not my style,” Tupas said.

 

Tupas said the meeting with Roxas pushed through November 20 with 15 mayors joining them. Some of the mayors, he added, were also identified with Defensor.

 

“I just told them that those who want to come are welcome to join us in the meeting,” Tupas said.

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