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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

WESTERN Visayas’ top cop sees nothing wrong if police officials in Iloilo City receive money from a politician as long as they don’t pocket the cash.

This was the reaction of Chief Supt. Isagani R. Cuevas, director of the Police Regional Office (PRO-6), to reports that ranking officials of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) received cash from Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. last week.

Among those who went to Gonzalez’s home were ICPO Director Melvin Mongcal and the chiefs of the seven district police stations in the city.

Reports said the police officials received P20,000 cash from Gonzalez during the meeting-cum-Christmas party.  

The report ruffled the feathers of Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas who is now mulling a revamp of the ICPO hierarchy.

Treñas, who will run for congressman against Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr., said police officials should refrain from accepting gifts from politicians as these might affect their performance and decisions.

Treñas said he might seek the revamp before the election season begins next month.

But Cuevas said any public official can summon police officers to discuss peace and order matters.

“Public officials like Sec. Gonzalez can meet our officers to give instructions pertaining to peace and order such as illegal drugs and petty crimes. Any public official can do so,” Cuevas said.

As regards the report that ICPO officials received cash, Cuevas said he assumes that the money might be a form of logistical support to the police stations.

“Maybe the money was intended for fuel and other expenses. The station chiefs will have to make liquidation report on how they spent the money given to them,” he said.

But it would be a different story if police officials used the money for personal benefit.

“That’s against our policy especially that we are approaching election season. We prohibit our officers from accepting gifts from politicians,” Cuevas said.

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Treñas, Gonzalez word war escalates

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

CHIEF Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. said Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas should look at his actions before accusing them of claiming Iloilo City as their kingdom.

Sec. Gonzalez told The Daily Guardian Wednesday that Treñas ate his own words when the mayor said that Iloilo City is not a kingdom.

“He is eating his own words. I ask you, who is oppressing people in the city? Who sacked hundreds of casual employees at the City Hall? Me? Who is using their power to harass barangay captains and casuals who don’t support him? Me? Who lays off employees then call their spouses and make them pledge their support for a candidate in exchange for employment? Isn’t that blackmail? I’m challenging Treñas on a debate on this any time,” Gonzalez said.

The word war between the former political allies erupted when reports surfaced that the Office of the Ombudsman is set to file plunder charges against Treñas relative to the anomalous P130-million housing project in Pavia, Iloilo.

The Gonzalezes denied having a hand if ever the Ombudsman has resolved the case. But Sec. Gonzalez Sr. said he once influenced the anti-graft body to go slow on the case to protect Treñas who was just elected to his first term as city mayor in 2001.

Treñas, who is running for congressman against incumbent Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr., said the Gonzalezes are experts in harassment and intimidation in the city.

Treñas said the housing scam issue keeps on surfacing during election season to malign him.

Sec. Gonzalez said Treñas was wrong in insinuating that he can influence the Ombudsman to file the charges against him.

“The fact is he has a case and he must answer that. The one in control of the case is not Raul Gonzalez, (but) the Ombudsman. Is he insinuating that I can dictate the Ombudsman?” he added.

But Gonzalez also claimed he convinced the Ombudsman not to prioritize the housing project scam to protect the mayor.

“I was the one who made him mayor. I used my influence as a congressman at that time, especially during budget hearings, to ask the Ombudsman not to prioritize the case. I did not tell them not to attend to the case but just to prioritize other cases swamping their office. That was done in good faith, for his own protection,” he added.

Sec. Gonzalez said Treñas is not entirely blameless in the housing scam because the latter signed the plans for the project which are part of the contract.

He also rapped the mayor for releasing the P17-million initial payment a day after issuing the notice to proceed to winning bidder Ace Builders Enterprise.

“Is there a carpenter or architect who can accomplish P17 million worth of project in one day? Is the construction of the foundations alone worth P17 million?” Sec. Gonzalez said.

Sec. Gonzalez also likened Treñas to a sinner who seeks refuge behind the phrase “politically motivated.”

“That is the refuge of sinners when you say it’s politically motivated. In Spanish ‘refugio peccatorum.’ Whether it’s politically motivated or not, the fact remains that there is a case. It’s a fact they have not explained,” he added.

The Gonzalezes yesterday played Sta. Claus to 205 casual employees who lost their jobs the past months.

The former employees, who mostly served the city government for more than 10 years, received a bag of rice and P1,000 cash.

Sec. Gonzalez said he used his personal money to help the employees who are facing a bleak Christmas.

He said he has yet to receive any formal response from Treñas relative to his remaining P5-million pork barrel fund which he gave to City Hall when he was still congressman.

“From our own accounting, my remaining Priority Development Assistance Fund is still a little over P5 million. I asked for liquidation from City Hall because I intend to give the money to the sacked casuals,” Sec. Gonzalez.

Treñas scores Gonzalezes for harassments

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

“ILOILO City is not a kingdom.”

Mayor Jerry Treñas issued these words of caution to his political rivals amidst reports that the Office of the Ombudsman will file charges against him relative to the anomalous P134-million housing project located in Pavia, Iloilo.

Treñas, who is running for Iloilo City congressman, said the housing project issue keeps on resurrecting during election time to put his name and administration down.

He said he was surprised why his political nemeses, Sec. Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. and Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr., have been discussing the developments of the case which has been gathering dust in the Ombudsman central office.

“My conscience is clear and I have done what I thought should have been done in that case. And if charges will be filed against me, so be it. We don’t flee from such things anyway. But this only shows that other people are experts in what we call waslik poder (abuse of power). The people will analyze and decide on the basis of what they are doing,” the mayor said.

Treñas said the Gonzalezes are experts in “harassments, intimidation and pressure.”

The mayor also reacted to the so-called “Three Kings” in the Gonzalez camp who have been criticizing his administration.

“The city of Iloilo is not a kingdom owned by anyone. This is our city and all of us have a stake in our city, its growth and development through the years and that bickering and intrigues spawned by our enemies should not affect the city’s growth,” Treñas said.

The Gonzalezes said they have nothing to do with any action of the Ombudsman relative to the substandard housing project.

But Sec. Gonzalez Sr. told the Iloilo media Monday that we was responsible for telling the Ombudsman to hide the case so that Treñas will not face charges and get suspended early in his administration.

Sec. Gonzalez also said he was responsible for Treñas’ election as mayor and he only protected the latter.

Treñas said Sec. Gonzalez might be taking too much credit for the mayor’s political career.

“Damu na nga tomboy sa akun. Hasta ako mapatay siguro tumbuyon man niya ako gihapun. You all know the situation in Iloilo City. When I ran for reelection, my votes were higher than his son’s (Rep. Gonzalez Jr.). But they keep on harping that they helped me,” Treñas said.

IMPLEMENTED

Treñas also denied the claims of Rep. Gonzalez Jr. that he signed the housing project contract with Ace Builders Enterprises.

The mayor said he only implemented the contract which was signed and approved during the administration of former mayor Mansueto Malabor.

“There was already an initial payment to the contractor by the previous administration. During my watch, I only paid for services rendered. I did not sign the contract because it was already ratified by the previous administration.

Despite the word war, the mayor said he wishes the Gonzalezes well for the upcoming holidays.

“I want to greet them a very Merry Christmas this season and may the good Lord touch their hearts,” Treñas said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILOILO City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas said he is mulling to ask the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to put the city under its control if armed men and political harassments continue.

Treñas broached the “Comelec control” measure following the gun firing incident outside the house of a political leader of Vice Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog in Calumpang, Molo Sunday evening.

Mabilog, who is seeking the mayor’s office, and Treñas, who is running for congressman, are allies in the 2010 elections despite belonging to rival political parties.

Unidentified suspects fired a gun outside the house of a certain Digoy Pragados in Calumpang village Sunday night.

The Molo police recovered nine empty shells of caliber .9mm pistol outside Pragados’ gate.

Treñas said he has directed the Molo police headed by S/Insp. Danilo Delos Santos to investigate and submit a report to his office not later than the end of 2009.

“I view this incident as politically-motivated. I am just watching the situation. But if this continues, I might be asking that the city will be placed under Comelec control,” the mayor said.

Treñas said he is worried by armed men tailing candidates around Iloilo City during this campaign season.

Mabilog said Pragados has been his loyal supporter since 2004.

“According to Digoy, this is the first time that this happened to him. He cannot recall any enemy or previous grudge that could be the reason for the incident,” Mabilog said.

The vice mayor said he also urged the Molo police to probe deeper into the incident and assure that no similar incident will happen.

“If worse comes to worse, I would also call for Comelec control of the city because people might get hurt or killed in subsequent incidents,” Mabilog said.

The Comelec can place an area under its control if there are verified serious armed threats to the smooth implementation of the elections.

Once an area is put under Comelec control, the poll body’s officials will serve as the acting provincial governor or mayor during the election period.

Law enforcement agencies and the military will also be placed under the Comelec’s control and supervision should it take over a local government unit.

Gonzalezes deny influencing Ombud on Pavia housing scam

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

“DON’T look at us.”

THIS was the reaction of the Gonzalez camp to reports that the Office of the Ombudsman is set to file a plunder case against Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas for the P134-million housing project scam.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. denied influencing the Ombudsman to “move” the case after Treñas broke away from their group last month to run for congressman.

“We have nothing to do about any prospective resolution of the Pavia housing case. It is easy for our enemies to attribute to us things that go against them,” Sec. Gonzalez said.

But Sec. Gonzalez said he told the anti-graft body to hide the housing scam case because he was responsible for Treñas’ election as city mayor.

“I did not want any issues to be raised against Treñas because he has just been elected mayor (in 2001). I told the Ombudsman not to prioritize the case,” he added.

Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr. said they are not surprised if the Ombudsman has resolved the case as it has been languishing in the anti-graft agency for sometime now.

But Rep. Gonzalez, who is seeking re-election against Treñas, denied any hand in any decision of the Ombudsman relative to the anomalous housing project located in Pavia, Iloilo.

“We even wrote the Ombudsman regarding the status of the case because it was not moving. If the Ombudsman has approved the filing of the case, it is because the issue is long overdue and ought to be resolved,” Rep. Gonzalez said.

The housing project, which was financed by a P130-million bond flotation, began in 2001 and was supposed to be completed in 2003.

But in 2002, Rudy Gonzales, a sub-contractor of ACE Builders Enterprises (ABE), the winning contractor of the project, exposed the alleged substandard materials and engineering of the housing units after the ABE failed to pay his services.

Rep. Gonzalez Jr., then a city councilor, led the investigation on the housing project as chairman of the committee on good government.

In 2003, the committee on good government released its findings and recommended the rescission of the contract and the filing of criminal and administrative charges against ABE, Treñas and other City Hall officials.

The committee also asked the Office of the Ombudsman to dig deeper into the anomaly.

Three administrative cases relative to the project are docketed as OMB-V-C-03-0715-K, OMB-V-C-03-0716-K and OMB-V-A-03-661-K.

Rep. Gonzalez said the City Council did not approve the committee report, reason why they submitted a copy of the report to the Ombudsman for further investigation.

He said Treñas was included as one of the respondents in the case because he signed the contract with ABE without authorization from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

“It was former Mayor Mansueto Malabor who was authorized to sign the contract. Mayor Treñas also failed to endorse the signed contract to the City Council for ratification,” Rep. Gonzalez said.

Rep. Gonzalez added that officials involved in the case should face the charges instead of blaming their group.

“They should answer the issues instead of blaming us,” he said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A TOTAL of 16 Iloilo towns and a component city are included in the “hotspot” list of the Police Regional Office (PRO-6).

Supt. Ranulfo Demiar, PRO-6 regional public information officer, said the towns are included in their election watchlist of areas of concern (EWAC) which is being validated by the regional command.

The areas included in the EWAC are classified in two categories: Category 1 for places with high possibility of election-related violent incidents (ERVI) is high while Category 2 areas have history of ERVIs, intense political rivalries and active movement of armed rebels.

In Iloilo, Category 1 areas include Anilao, Dueñas, Estancia, Maasin, Passi City, San Enrique and Tigbauan.

The towns of Bingawan, Calinog, Guimbal, Igbaras, Lambunao, Leon, Miag-ao, San Joaquin, and Tubungan are classified as Category 2 areas.

At total of 48 towns and cities in Western Visayas are included in the PRO-6’s EWAC.

Demiar said some of the areas might be removed from the list depending on the outcome of their validation.

Last Monday, former Estancia mayor Rene Cordero went to the office of PRO-6 Director Isagai R. Cuevas to seek assistance against alleged harassment by his rival, incumbent Mayor Restituto Mosqueda.

Cordero is seeking to recapture the mayorship of Estancia in the May 2010 elections.

Cuevas said he advised Cordero to gather evidence to prove his claims so that the PRO-6 can assess his request.

“They have to show proof before we ca provide security personnel to him,” Cuevas said.

Meanwhile, Presidential Assistant Raul Banias warned politicians against hiring members of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) in partisan political activities.

Banias said RPA-ABB members who work as bodyguards of politicians are liable for violating the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the rebel group.

Extended voters list-up pose problems

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the city and province of Iloilo is foreseeing many problems with the latest decision of the Supreme Court to extend the voters’ registration period.

Atty. Elizabeth Doronila, Iloilo provincial election supervisor, said election officers in the province flocked her office yesterday to express their apprehensions about the SC decision.

In a nine-page unanimous decision penned by Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales, the high court en banc granted the petition filed by Kabataan party-list seeking to declare null and void Commission on Elections (Comelec) Resolution No. 8585, which shortened the deadline of voters registration to October 31, 2009, instead of December 15, 2009, as previously fixed by Comelec Resolution No. 8514.

The decision, which is immediately executory, will extend the voters’ registration period to January 9, 2010.

The Comelec earlier set the deadline for voters’ registration to October 31 due to the demands of poll automation.

In its decision, the Supreme Court said the people’s right to suffrage “is at the heart of our constitutional democracy.” It said the Comelec has no valid ground to justify its non-compliance to the system of continuing voter registration mandated under Section 8 of Republic Act 8189 or the Voter’s Registration Act of 1996.

Under the said provision, the registration of voters shall be conducted daily in the office of the election officer during regular office hours, except during the period starting 120 days before a regular election and 90 days before a special election.

“In the present case, the Court finds no ground to hold that the mandate of continuing voter registration cannot be reasonably held within the period provided by R.A. 8189, Section 8 – daily during officer hours, except during the period starting 120 days before the May 10, 2010 regular elections. There is thus no occasion for the Comelec to exercise its power to fix other dates or deadlines therefor,” the Court said.

Doronila said the SC order will compel election officers to undo the final list of voters culled from the latest registration period which ended last October 31.

“Our election officers have already finalized their list is (which is) ready for sealing and submission. If the registration period is extended, the election officers will have to make a new list of voters which is a tedious process,” Doronila said.

Aside from registering first time voters, Doronila said they foresee problems in transferees from other areas outside Iloilo.

“The mailing of the documents of transferees take some time which will surely delay things,” she added.

Jonathan Sayno, Iloilo City election assistant, said their timetable will be set back by the high court’s ruling as they are supposed to hear exclusion petitions against registered voters next year.

Sayno also echoed Doronila’s sentiments on undoing the final list of voters which the city Comelec office has already completed.

“We also lack registration forms. During the last day of registration, we even asked for 1,000 extra copies to accommodate those who tried to beat the deadline,” Sayno said.

Sayno added that they expect 5,000 additional registrants to take advantage of the extended registration period.

Sayno said the most practical period for the extension of the registration period is from December 21 to 29 to avoid disrupting Comelec’s timetable for the automated elections.

“Everything really depends on the Supreme Court. Since the decision is immediately executory, we are just awaiting guidance from our central office,” Sayno said.

PCOS allocation

Doronila said the allocation of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines in clustered precincts will also be affected with the extension of the registration period.

Doronila said the Comelec increased the number of precincts per cluster from five to seven because of the number of voters.

Based on Comelec’s calculation, the city and province of Iloilo need 2,392 PCOS machines for the same number of clustered precincts.

There are a total of 1,257,661 voters in the city and province, according to Doronila.

Registered voters in Iloilo City totaled 242,033, lower by 1% compared to 245,734 registered voters during the October 2007 barangays election.

“If the number of registered voters increases with the extension of the registration period, the number of clustered precincts and PCOS allocation will also increase which poses logistical problems to the Comelec,” she said.

Doronila said the extension might not be practical for areas in the province.

“Most municipal election officers said nobody else went to their office on the last day of registration on October 31. Maybe because the voters were informed through the media not to flock the election offices on the last day of registration. Except for Iloilo City which was swamped by last day registrants, our offices in the towns did not face such predicament. This is the first time that we will register voters after the deadline for the filing of candidacy,” Doronila said.

But Doronila and Sayno said their offices are ready for the extension.

Barangay captains trade barbs

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A PUNONG barangay identified with the group of Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. said village chiefs loyal to Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas are the real political robots.

Brgy. Captain Love Joy Hosenilla of Buntatala, Jaro said his fellow village chief Jonas Antonio Bellosillo is the one acting under the orders of Treñas.

Hosenilla, who replaced Bellosillo as president of Association of Barangay Captains (ABC)-Jaro, issued the statement after Bellosillo accused pro-Gonzalez village chiefs as political robots.

Recalling their previous conversations the past months, Hosenilla said Bellosillo shifted his allegiance from Gonzalez to Treñas because the mayor was pressuring Bellosillo.

Treñas is running for congressman against Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr., son of Sec. Gonzalez Sr.

“At first, he said he was for Rep. Gonzalez Jr. for congressman and Sec. Gonzalez Sr. for mayor. Then he changed his tune and will go for the Treñas (congressman)-Gonzalez (mayor) ticket. Jonas again changed his mind and will go all out for Treñas only because the mayor was pressuring him,” Hosenilla said.

The ABC-Jaro ousted Bellosillo as president after signing a resolution expressing lack of confidence in the latter’s leadership last December 10, 2009.

The resolution also declared the presidency of ABC-Jaro vacant, which paved the way for Hosenillo’s assumption of the top office being the group’s vice president.

A total of 23 Jaro barangay captains signed the resolution, a copy of which was given to the The Daily Guardian

Hosenilla said Bellosillo’s constant change of allegiance disillusioned other village chiefs of his capability to lead ABC-Jaro.

Hosenilla also claimed that Treñas also told Punong Barnagay Roberto Divinagracia of San Agustin, City Proper to withdraw his resignation as president of ABC-Iloilo City proper.

“They are the political robots because they bow to Mayor Treñas’ wishes,” he added.

Hosenilla also objected to Bellosillo’s statement that the village chiefs who signed the resolution are ignorant.

“Many of our members are businessmen, professionals with college degrees while another studied law. Why would he call us ignorant? Well, I would prefer to be called ignorant because I will still learn than being labeled a balimbing (turncoat) because that is synonymous to being a traitor,” he said.

Not recognized?   

Hosenilla said Treñas also contradicted his own statement that he will not recognize ABC presidents who replaced his allies when the mayor issued Executive Order No. 53, series of 2009.

The EO designated Bellosillo as manager of the Jaro Agro-Industrial and Charity Fair in connection with the 2010 Jaro fiesta celebration.

While she does not question Treñas’ power to appoint people who will manage the fair, Hosenilla said the EO recognized Bellosillo’s ouster as ABC-Jaro president.

Hosenilla quoted the second whereas clause of the EO which says: “Whereas, regrettably with the replacement of Punong Barangay Bellosillo as President of the Association of Barangay Captains of the District of Jaro, there is a need to revoke Executive Order No. 14, series of 2009 in order the maintain the continuity of the success of the Jaro Agro-Industrial and Charity Fair under the able leadership of Punong Barangay Bellosillo.”

“The mayor himself already admitted in his order that Bellosillo was already replaced, so why will he not recognize us?” Hosenilla said.

Hosenilla said they will assist Bellosillo in running the Jaro fiesta fair “provided the same working committees in this year’s fair will remain.”

“We will help him as long as he does not make changes in the working committees,” Hosenilla said.

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.

Ausan sees complications in SC ruling on appointive officials

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Western Visayas is awaiting guidance from its central office as regards the recent decision of the Supreme Court on appointed officials who filed their certificates of candidacy (CoC) for the 2010 elections.

Atty. Dennis Ausan, Comelec regional director, said he has yet to see a copy of the SC decision stating that Cabinet officials and other appointive public servants participating in next year’s elections need not resign from their respective posts even if they have filed their COCs.

Ausan said he learned of the SC decision only in media reports.

The Comelec official said he saw some complications in the new ruling, particularly in the case of PNP, AFP and Comelec officials who are running for the 2010 elections.

Ausan cited the case of Alfonso Combong III, election officer of Hamtic, Antique, who is running for board member next year.

Combong filed his CoC Monday and did not report to work thinking that he automatically resigned his post after formalizing his candidacy.

But the SC order put the Comelec regional office in a bind whether to let Combong continue to discharge his office as election supervisor or consider him resigned.

Ausan said there might complications in Combong’s case and other officials such as the police and the military.

He said the SC might have overlooked the case of AFP and PNP personnel.

“Will they continue to be police and military officers while campaigning? We have to seek guidance from our central office on this. As regards Combong’s case, we suggested that he go on leave but it all depends on him,” Ausan said.

Reports from Antique said Comelec’s director for personnel Adolfo Ibañez to go on leave for the meantime.

Ausan said while appointive officials can stay in office even if they are candidates, they cannot use their office resources for their campaigns.

“If they use their offices for political purposes, they can still be pinned down by anti-graft laws,” he added.

The latest SC decision is the result of a petition filed by election lawyer Romulo Macalintal questioning a resolution issued by Comelec.

The Comelec resolution was based on Sec. 13 of Republic Act 9369 (The Automation Law) which states that “any person holding a public appointive officer shall be considered ipso facto resigned from office and must vacate the same at the start of the day of CoC.”

But Macalintal, in the petition, argued that such provision runs counter to another section that says “any person who files his COC shall be considered as a candidate at the start of the campaign period.”

Macalintal argued that the requirement discriminates against government officials vis-a-vis the elective officials who are not obliged to give up their posts when they run for public office.

The SC ruled that appointive officials are only considered resigned at the start of the official campaign period.

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

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.

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

IT WILL be the longest day for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as candidates vying for various posts in 2010 try to beat the deadline 12 midnight today.

Jonathan Sayno, Comelec Iloilo City election assistant, said they are prepared physically and logistically to cater to candidates who will lodge their certificates of candidacy (CoC).

Sayno said their work eased a bit after major political groups in Iloilo City filed their CoCs since the weekend.

Sayno said they have requested police officers to be stationed at their office in Iloilo Terminal Market, also known as Super Market, to keep peace and order.

“The filing is peaceful and orderly and no untoward incident happened along the way. Although candidates brought along their supporters and fun fares, the filing went smoothly as candidates observed proper procedure and friendly competition,” he added.

Mayor Jerry Treñas, who is running for congressman, and his ally Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who is seeking the Office of the City Mayor, led their respective groups in filing their CoCs Monday morning.

The group of Sec. Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. will formalize their candidacies this morning. Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr. will try to win his last 3-year term against Treñas while Sec. Gonzalez Sr. will run against Mabilog.

The Gonzalezes will carry the banner of Partido Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

The group of mayorable Lorenzo “Larry” Jamora filed their CoCs Friday last week.

City Councilor Erwin Plagata is running for vice mayor while his City Council slate includes incumbent Councilor Perla S. Zulueta and lawyer Edeljulio Romero. They will run as independent candidates.

Atty. Elizabeth Doronila, Comelec Iloilo provincial office head, said they also requested additional police officers to secure their office at Burgos Street, LaPaz, Iloilo City.

Four police officers from the Police Regional Office (PRO-6) and LaPaz police station were assigned to the Comelec provincial office since the start of the filing CoCs.

The group of Barotac Viejo Mayor Raul C. Tupas, who is running for Iloilo governor, is expected to file their certificates of candidacy today at the Comelec provincial office. (With reports from Lydia C. Pendon)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MUSLIMS in Iloilo City do not tolerate violence and bloodshed similar to the Maguindanao massacre in Mindanao Island a week ago.

This was the reaction of the Muslim community in the city in an interview with weekly TV program Serbisyo Publiko hosted by Councilor by Perla S. Zulueta over Sky Cable Sunday.

Imam Sammy Hadjimanan, spokesman of the Iloilo Islam Community Association, said true believers of Islam do not tolerate the killing of women and children.

Hadjimanan said they condemn the massacre of more than 50 persons, mostly women relatives of a political leader in Maguindanao, allegedly perpetuated by a rival political clan.

“We are saddened by the incident. The Muslims do not harm women and children. The Muslim community prays for the victims and peace in Mindanao and we hope justice will be given to them,” Hadjimanan said.

Imam Abdul Nasser R. Langcao said Islam prohibits the murder of women and children.

“Women are respected and loved, not murdered. The children must be taken cared of. We condemn such acts. You are not a true Muslim if you do that,” Langcao said.

Langcao said killing is only justified in defense of religion or ancestral domain when a jihad or holy war is declared.

“But Muslims are peaceful and God-fearing people. We obey God’s command at all times,” Langcao added.

Hadjimanan said they are concerned with the wrong impression that the massacre might cause on Muslims in areas outside of Mindanao.

“We feel bad about what happened and we condemn such act. Some people might think that all Muslims are troublesome and cruel. But not all Muslims are like that,” Hadjimanan said.

Hadjimanan said the incident has a great impact on their community, especially discrimination by other people.

“We include the victims in our prayers five times a day. We hope that they will not discriminate or think that all Muslims are like those who committed the massacre,” he added.

There are around 1,000 Muslims in Iloilo City, most of them traders.

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

BATTLE lines are being drawn in the province and city of Iloilo as major candidates filed their respective certificates of candidacy (CoC) since the weekend.

Today, the groups of Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas and Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog will file their CoCs at the Commission on Elections (Comelec)-Iloilo City office.

Treñas, who will run for congressman under Nacionalista Party, and Mabilog, Liberal Party’s mayoral bet in the city, have allied against the group of Sec. Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. of Partido Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

The Treñas and Mabilog groups will attend separate church masses before going to the Comelec office. The allies, however, are supporting two different vice mayoral bets – Treñas is for Councilor Jose Espinosa III while Mabilog’s running mate is Councilor Julienne Baronda.

Councilor Erwin Plagata, who will run for Iloilo City vice mayor, also formalized his candidacy Saturday along with lawyer Edeljulio Romero who is seeking a seat in the City council.

Sec. Gonzalez and his son Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr. will file their CoCs for mayor and congressman, respectively, also today after a morning caravan from Jaro district.

The group of former Presidential Adviser on Waters Lorenzo H. Jamora, who is also running for mayor, filed their CoCs Friday. His running mate is Dr. Aquiles Hortillosa of LaPaz district.

In Iloilo province, House Majority Floor Leader Arthur Defensor Sr. and Iloilo provincial Board Member Richard Garin will file their candidacy for governor and vice governor, respectively, at the Comelec provincial office in LaPaz, Iloilo City this morning.

Defensor said their candidates for the Sangguniang Panlalawigan from the five districts of the province will also file their CoCs today.

Last Saturday morning, Rep. Ferjenel G. Biron (Iloilo, 4th district) filed his CoC with the Comelec to seek his last 3-year term.

Biron’s opponent, Iloilo Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr. also filed his candidacy Saturday afternoon.

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

THE alliance of candidates from varied political parties in Iloilo City is the antidote to the reign of the so-called triple G in local politics, according to former senator Franklin Drilon.

Drilon, LP national chairman, led the oath taking of Liberal Party members in Iloilo City led by Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog Wednesday.

Mabilog, who will run for mayor, has allied with Mayor Jerry Treñas who will run for congressman under the Nacionalista Party.

Mabilog will run against Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul Gonzalez Sr. while Treñas will face incumbent Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr.

The Gonzalezes are members of the ruling Partido Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

Mabilog’s vice mayoral bet is Councilor Julienne “Jam-Jam” Baronda while Treñas is fielding his brother-in-law Jose Espinosa III for the second highest post in the City Hall.

“It’s triple J (Jerry-Jed-Jam) versus triple G (guns, gold and goons). The alliance of various parties in Iloilo City is an alliance against the politics of intimidation and oppression,” Drilon said.

Mabilog’s slate can be considered a salad of political parties.

Baronda has joined the Partido of Masang Pilipino (PMP) along with their City council bets Erlinda Liberiaga, former Bombo Radyo anchorman Rodel Fullon-Agado and lawyer Plaridel Nava. PMP is the political party of ousted president and convicted plunderer Joseph Estrada.

Another “councilorable” under the Mabilog-Baronda tandem is former councilor Joshua Alim who is with PDP-Laban party while Leftist Jory Porquia is with Bayan Muna.   

Mabilog also pledged to support Treñas’ candidacy in the May 2010 elections to continue the politics of change that the mayor initiated in 2001.

“Many local and international investors came into the city because of their trust in our leaders. I promise to continue these changes and development that Mayor Treñas started if ever I am elected mayor,” Mabilog said.

Aside from Mabilog, Councilor Lyndon Acap and lawyer RLeonie Geroche also formally joined LP yesterday.

The oath-taking rites also became a dance party of sorts as supporters and LP stalwarts danced to the tune of the pop dance song “Nobody But You.”

Crossing party lines, Drilon also endorsed the candidacy of Jerry P. Treñas, the NP city chairman, as their common candidate for congressman.    

Treñas appreciated the LP endorsement and said that Drilon is a well-respected leader in the city and in the country.

“It is the beauty of democracy where everyone can run in the elections and it is with distinct pride and honor to be endorsed by Senator Drilon,” Treñas said.

The city mayor said the LP endorsement will not affect his political standing with NP due to the fact that city electorates do not go for straight voting in any election.    

Drilon said straight party voting is not anymore effective in the city. This was confirmed by the results of the 2004 and 2007 elections where Ilonggos voted their leaders from different political parties, he said. (With reports from Lydia C. Pendon)

Villar cites humble beginnings, Ilonggo roots

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

SENATOR Manuel Villar, standard bearer of the Nacionalista Party, pointed out why he is better than his closest rival in the 2010 presidential race.

Villar said he understands poverty in the Philippines compared to his rivals who were born with silver spoons in their mouths as he came from a poor family.

Apparently, Villar was making potshots at Liberal Party standard bearer Benigno Simeon Aquino III and his running mate Manuel “Mar” Roxas who were born to well-off and landed families.

Aquino and Roxas are presently leading poll surveys on the presidential and vice-presidential races.

“I understand poverty that’s why the centerpiece of my platform is to end that poverty gap. We cannot end poverty in six years but we can do a lot by lessening its effects,” Villar said prior to the mass oath-taking of NP members in Western Visayas Monday.

He also cited his leadership and managerial skills, highlighting his stint as a former House Speaker and Senate President.

Villar claimed that he is the only political leader after World War 2 who was elected to head both chambers of Congress.

Because of his political experience and achievements, Villar said he will not waste his time learning the ropes of governance.

“There is no more time for on the job training. We must hit the ground running and working as we have a lot of things to be done,” he said.

One issue raised against Aquino is his experience and capability to handle the Office of the President given his lackluster performance as a 3-term congressman and senator.

Villar also questioned his rivals if who among them love the Ilonggos like he does.

“This is the only chance for Ilonggos to have their very own president. Now is the time for an Ilonggo president,” he said.

The NP standard bearer traces his descent to Cabatuan and Iloilo City as his grandfather and father are Ilonggos.

Villar also extolled his own mother who worked hard to raise them from poverty. It was an apparent effort to compare her to former President Corazon Aquino whose death and the consequent outpouring of sympathies from the nation catapulted Sen. Aquino to the presidential race.

“My mother sold shrimps in Tondo to raise nine children. There are times when we have no money for our tuition fees and food but she kept on working. Now that we have a better life, she shirks from spending the money we give her. She is not used to spending too much money. I see problems of the poor in my mother, the problems of people who don’t have good-sounding last names. If a mother’s integrity is the basis to be elected as president, then I am sure that my mother has more integrity,” he added.

As regards the recent polls survey, Villar said Aquino’s lead went down from a high of 40% to 17% only.

“The euphoria (over Pres. Aquino’s death) has gone down and people are asking what he can do when he governs,” Villar said.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, who will run for congressman under NP banner, also cited a recent survey he commissioned.

The survey, which has a 5% margin of error, showed Aquino ahead of Villar by 3 percentage points only.

“Sen. Aquino has 34% while Sen. Villar got 31%. If we consider the margin of error, they are statistically tied. That is why we in Iloilo City must make sure that Sen. Villar will win,” Treñas said.

 

 

 

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Nacionalista Party (NP) continues to strengthen its hold in the city and province of Iloilo and the rest of Western Visayas by wooing top Ilonggo leaders to its fold.

NP president and standard bearer, Sen. Manuel Villar, said they are in talks with more prominent political leaders in Iloilo who are members of other parties.

First to jump from Partido Lakas-Kampi-CMD was Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas who formally joined the NP Monday, taking his membership oath before Villar at Sarabia Manor Hotel and Convention Center.

Treñas will run for Iloilo City congressman against Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr. of the administration party.

Aside from Treñas, Councilor Jose Espinosa III, Punong Barangay Roberto Divinagracia, Iloilo City Urban Poor Affairs Office head Ronnie Firmeza and businessmen Edward Yee and Johnny Young also joined NP.

Espinosa will run for Iloilo City vice mayor while Divinagracia, Yee and Young will run for councilors under Treñas’ group.

Other prominent leaders who took their membership oath with NP were Iloilo Mayors Romulo Cabana of Leon, Matt Palabrica of Bingawan; 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.

A total of 300 political candidates and party leaders joined the mass oath-taking Monday.

Joining Villar in the mass oath-taking were members of the NP senatorial slate – Gilbert Remulla, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Martin Querubin representing Marine Col. Ariel Querubin.

NP spokesperson and former congressman Gilbert Remulla said they continue to reach out to Iloilo congressman to convince them to join NP.

Among the officials being wooed by NP are House Majority Floor Leader Arthur D. Defensor Sr. (3rd district), Reps. Jeanette L. Garin (1st district) and Ferjenel G. Biron (4th district) who are all Lakas members.

“They are all good friends of Sen. Villar and we hope that they will join NP in the coming days,” Remulla said.

PATCHING UP

Meanwhile, Remulla said they are talking to the Makabayan group of partylist Rep. Satur Ocampo who threatened to leave their tactical alliance with NP following the entry of Rep. Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan.

Ocampo, a victim of human rights abuses during Martial Law under former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., and Rep. Liza Masa of Gabriela are seeking Senate seats next year.

One of the conditions laid down by the group of Ocampo is for Villar to pursue corruption and human rights violation cases not only against Marcos but other past administrations as well.

Mr. Remulla said they are confident that Ocampo and Masa will reach a common ground relative to their coalition.

“Sen. Villar respects the independence of the courts. He will let the courts work without his interference. We want to focus really on our commonalities, rather on the differences. We want to heal the wounds of the past. Madami ng mga sugat na hindi pa rin gumagaling e. Let us heal that by resolving this problem as soon as possible,” Remulla said.

Villar said that while he respects the ongoing court cases against the human rights violations and ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family, he advocates national healing and unity to further his programs and policies.

“I will not interfere with the judiciary relative to the Marcos cases. I will respect the decision of the court to ensure that justice will be served to all parties involved,” Mr. Villar said.

Marcos said he is comfortable working with Ocampo’s group.

“We coalesced with NP because we are comfortable with Sen. Villar’s visions. We did not lay down any condition. I don’t mind allying with Rep. Ocampo,” Marcos said.

Marcos said he did not raise any issue against NP’s alliance with the leftist groups as he sees no problem working with them.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) will mount an information drive relative to its plan to tax campaign expenses of political parties and candidates during the 2010 elections.

In an interview with cable TV program Serbisyo Publiko hosted Iloilo City Councilor Perla Zulueta Sunday, Commission of Elections (Comelec) regional director Dennis Ausan said the BIR will brief candidates and parties as regards the 5% campaign tax.

Ausan said the 5% campaign tax is in keeping with the three-decade-old provision of the National Internal Revenue Code.

The 5% campaign tax is embodied in BIR’s Revenue Regulations 8-2009 issued in October 2009, which amended RR 2-98 and imposed a creditable withholding tax (CWT) of 5 percent on the following:

–         Income payments made by political parties and candidates of local and national elections of all their campaign expenditures; and

–         Income payments made by individuals or juridical persons for their purchases of goods and services intended to be given as campaign contribution to political parties and candidates. 

The withholding agents who will collect the 5% tax are “all individuals, juridical persons and political parties, with respect to their income payments made as campaign expenditures and/or purchase of goods and services intended as campaign contributions.”

“The BIR will require parties and candidates, including the independents, to register as withholding agents who will collect the 5% campaign tax,” Ausan said.

While Republic Act 7166 (Synchronized Elections Law) provides that campaign donations reported to the Comelec are not subject to gift or donors tax, Ausan said the 5% tax will only cover income payment to third parties such as tarpaulin printers and broadcast and print media.

For example, if a party or candidate pays P110 (P100 cost + P10 income/profit) to a tarpaulin printer, the party or candidate will withhold the 5% tax on the P10 income and remit the same to the BIR.

“The tax will not be exacted on campaign contributions but on income payments for election related materials and services. It is up to the BIR to explain to political parties and candidates how this new regulation works,” Ausan said.

Ausan said the Comelec will provide BIR the list of candidates and political parties and their statements of contributions and expenses submitted to the poll body.

PREMATURE CAMPAIGNING

Meanwhile, Ausan advised candidates who already filed their certificates of candidacy to remove any material or advertisement that are laden with campaign messages.

“All bloctime programs, streamers and banners that campaign for or against any candidate must be removed lest they will face disqualification and criminal cases,” Ausan said.

Ausan said the Comelec central office will issue the rules and regulations as regards premature campaigning.

“If there is a banner of a candidate found hanging in a public place, we will write that candidate asking him or her to remove the material within three days or else they will face charges,” he added.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THEY may belong to different parties but they consider each other allies in the 2010 elections.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas will formally join the Nacionalista Party today while Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog is set to join the Liberal Party.

Treñas said he was supposed to take his membership oath before NP head, Sen. Manuel Villar Saturday but it was moved to today.

Treñas, who will run for congressman next year, said Councilor Jose Espinosa III, Punong Barangay Roberto Divinagracia, businessman Edward Yee and Johnny Young will also join NP.

Espinosa will run for vice mayor under Treñas’ banner while Divinagracia, Yee and Young will gun for seats in the City Council.

Treñas, who will run against incumbent Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr., said he is also in talks with other potential council bets.

Mabilog said he is still awaiting final instructions from the LP executive committee as regards his membership.

Mabilog will run for mayor against Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr.

His running mate is City Councilor Julienne Baronda who will run for vice mayor.

Despite their different choices for vice mayor, Treñas said he will support Mabilog as city mayor.

The conflict over a common choice for the vice mayoral race has been the cause of delay in the forging of the Treñas-Mabilog tandem.

Eventually, they chose their own bets and went ahead with the alliance.

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.

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