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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

THE decision of President Gloria Arroyo to run for representative of the 2nd congressional district of Pampanga in the 2010 election does not demean her status and the Office of the President.

Former Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. said President Arroyo did not degrade her present position by bidding to serve her constituents in Pampanga.

Critics of the Arroyo administration said the President should quit politics having served as the highest official of the land for nine years already. Her decision will debase the Office of the President as an institution.

“Service is never demeaning. The President’s decision to run for Congress is part of her desire to serve her own people in Pampanga. And there is no law barring her from running for any office except the presidency,” Gonzalez said.

When asked if President Arroyo is just seeking immunity from possible suits due to various high-profile anomalies hounding her administration by running for congresswoman, Gonzalez said the immunity only applies on actions and deliberations during sessions.

“The immunity also applies to crimes punishable by imprisonment of less than six years. There have been several congressmen who were convicted of crimes filed against them,” he added.

As regards President Arroyo becoming House Speaker, Gonzalez said it depends on the House of Representatives.

“She is very much qualified (to become House Speaker). The President is the most qualified and well-informed president that we had. Only that she does not get the credit for what she has done,” he added.

President Arroyo personally filed her certificate of candidacy in Pampanga Tuesday morning.

Gonzalez said the decision of ousted president and convicted plunderer Joseph Estrada to seek the presidency is more immoral.

“It is more ignoble as he already knows that he is disqualified under the Constitution,” Gonzalez said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

AT 78, former Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. is raring to work as Iloilo City’s top official.

The former justice department chief and staunch defender of the Arroyo regime even joked with journalists when asked about the status of his health.

“I am okay. Kung may gwapa da, maupod man ko (If there’s a beautiful lady there, I am willing to date her),” Sec. Gonzalez said after filing his certificate of candidacy for city mayor along with his slate.

Sec. Gonzalez underwent kidney transplant two years ago, prompting his family to advise him to quit government service.

But Sec. Gonzalez said President Gloria Arroyo told him to stay in her cabinet.

“I almost retired after my operation because my family was unanimous in saying that I should retire. But the President told me to face the challenges of the future and not to resign. If I retire, I will get weaker and deteriorate. And I heeded the President’s advice,” he added.

Gonzalez said he decided to run for mayor “because I feel I have not amortized my debt of gratitude to the people of Iloilo City.”

“These are the people who made what I am today. If I have an ounce more of strength to use to serve, I will use it here in Iloilo City which I have grown to love,” Gonzalez said.

The former justice secretary said his top priority if elected mayor is to hasten the construction of the Iloilo City Hall; immediate resolution of the Iloilo City housing project in Pavia, Iloilo; and proper accounting of City Hall funds and properties.

He also vowed to address the problem of substandard roads in Iloilo City.

However, critics blame the substandard roads to International Builders Construction, Inc., which is perceived as the favored contractor of Gonzalez.

Gonzalez’s son, incumbent Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr., is seeking his last 3-year term. Councilor Antonio Pesina is running for vice mayor.

The Gonzalez group’s “councilorables” under the Partido Lakas-Kampi-CMD include incumbent Councilors Jeffrey Ganzon, Ely Estante and Eldrid Antiquiera, lawyer Eugenio Original, businessman Pax Ngo, broadcaster Salvador “Jun” Capulot Jr., Quirico Mendoza Jr., Engr. Mike Chin, Constantino Abellar, Ernesto Jardeleza Jr., Gudelia Coo and Jose Ma. dela Llana.

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