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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.

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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

IN what could be the boldest decision in his political life, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas declared his intention to run for congressman, consequently severing his alliance with the group of Sec. Raul M. Gonzalez Sr.

Accompanied by his family who were clad in light blue shirts and supporters, Treñas announced his candidacy before the Iloilo media at his law office Tuesday after months of speculations on his next step when he graduates as city mayor next year.

Treñas said he is also leaving the Lakas-CMD party because of his decision to run for the lone congressional seat of the city.

“The people put me where I am and I cannot leave them. This decision is really heavy but I cannot abandon calls for me to run for congressman and become their voice in Congress. For now, I have no party. I don’t know what is next for us. But what I have decided for now is that I will run for congressman of the lone district of Iloilo City,” Treñas said amidst boisterous cheers of his supporters.

The mayor said he decision to run for congressman could be the hardest he made in his life.

“The easiest was my decision to marry my wife (Rosalie Treñas),” he added, eliciting laughter from the audience.

Treñas will run against incumbent Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr., the son of Sec. Gonzalez Sr.

Treñas said it took him some time to make up his mind because of his alliance with the Gonzalezes and membership with Lakas-CMD. He also faced a lot of options, including the possibility of quitting politics and return to the legal profession.

“My wife even refurbished my office last year. I heard our people’s call but despite this I still had a hard time that is why I sought help through prayers so I will know where God will bring me,” he said.

Treñas said that the light blue color they wore indicates their devotion to the Virgin Mary.

Treñas said he realized that public service is “not about being in power but to serve the people.”

The mayor said he went to the Carmelite Missionaries convent in Dueñas, Iloilo “where they helped me clarify the reasons why I am in my position and that is to serve the people.”

Despite their looming rivalry, Treñas said he is thankful to the Gonzalezes for helping him when he returned to politics in 2001.

“But my victory is not just because of our group since if we look at things, man proposes but God disposes. That’s why I’m very thankful to our people for trusting me all this time. I still have a lot of things to give back to our people. While my decision is very heavy,” Treñas said.

PARTYLESS

After his decision to run for the House of Representatives, Treñas said he will start discerning which group he will join to further his candidacy.

Treñas said he will leave Lakas under the principle of the equity of the incumbent and per advice of Sec. Gabriel Claudio who counsels President Gloria Arroyo on political matters.

Treñas said President Arroyo met him in Malacañang and tried to convince him not to leave the party but the situation was already non-negotiable, particularly with the Gonzalezes.

“Some problems can be solved, others cannot be solved. It so happened that our situation cannot be resolved,” he said.

The mayor said many parties have been inviting him to join their groups but he has yet to decide.

“A lot of parties have been wooing me and some presidentiables have been approaching me. The next hardest decision is to decide on our slate. This is also difficult because of possible complications in the local and national levels,” he added.

Treñas said he will decide which party to join after settling some realignment in the local level.

“I first had to decide which position to run because if I don’t, I will be putting the cart before the horse. How can I talk to anyone if I have not decided on what to do next?” he said.

The mayor said he knows that the Gonzalezes are prepared logistically and financially for the 2010 elections “but it is the people who will eventually decide.”

DISAPPOINTED BUT NOT SURPRISED

Sec. Gonzalez said they are prepared for any eventuality, particularly Treñas’ decision to run for congressman.

“We’ve got all bases covered. The party has contingency for any eventuality. We are prepared for anything,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said he respects Treñas’ decision to run for the lone congressional district but he pooh-poohed those who showed support for Treñas.

“I’m disappointed but I’m not surprised. He is no big threat and we can handle him. From what we have seen, only seven punong barangays were present in Treñas’ press conference. There are 180 barangay captains and majority of them are with our group. The overwhelming majority is still with us,” Gonzalez said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE family and friends of Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas are behind the latter’s decision to run for congressman opposite the well-oiled machinery of the Gonzalez group.

A teary-eyed Rosalie Treñas, Iloilo City’s first lady, said she prayed hard so that her husband can decide what is best for their family and the city.

“All these time, all I did was to pray for my husband. I just learned two words for my husband – discernment that we made in the past days to make the right decision and compassion not only for the love of his family but for the Ilonggo people and most of all devotion to our beloved Virgin Mary,” Mrs. Treñas said.

The children of the Treñas couple were also present in the press conference – Raisa, 24, Carlo, 22, Miguel, 21, Jerry Jr., 16, and Paolo, 14.

Treñas’ sister-in-law, Dr. Kristin Treñas and her son were also present to support the mayor.

Mrs. Treñas also thanked their supporters who gathered to cheer on the mayor as he announced his candidacy for congressman.

Iloilo City Councilor Jose Espinosa III, Treñas’ brother-in-law, said he will stick with the mayor in the 2010 elections.

Espinosa has been touted to become the vice mayoralty bet of Sec. Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. who is running for city mayor.

“Even if there is just the two of us in our group, I will stick with Mayor Treñas no matter what,” Espinosa said.

Espinosa said Treñas’ declaration could be the spark that will alter the political scenario in Iloilo City.

“It is good that he has finally decided because the people now know where he stands. This is a big factor that will change the complexion of our politics,” Espinosa added.    

Punong Barangay Roberto Divinagracia of San Agustin, Iloilo City proper, who is also related to Treñas, said he will support the mayor “because I believe in his leadership and capability to serve the people.”

Divinagracia, the president of the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) in Iloilo City proper district, is also a supporter of Sec. Gonzalez and his son incumbent Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr.

Aside from Divinagracia, Punong Barangays Celoy Alag of Villa Anita, Iloilo City proper, Carlos Guarin of Aguinaldo, LaPaz and Rudiver Jungco of Jereos, LaPaz also attended Treñas’ announcement yesterday.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

TO run or not to run?

Two days before he announces his political plans next year, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said he continues to consult his family and friends on what to do next.

With his family’s help, Treñas, who is serving his last three-year term, said he is seeking the path God set for him.

He said his friends and supporters are praying that he will make a good political decision which is seen to be a major factor in the 2010 elections in Iloilo City.

Treñas earlier said he will announce his decision on October 31.

Treñas is torn between his alliance with Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul Gonzalez Sr. and those who cajole him to run for congressman under another party.

If he runs for congressman, Treñas will pit himself against Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr. who still has one three-year term left.  

No matter what his decision is, Treñas said he will always help Iloilo City which he loves very much.

But he said he will not impose his style of governance on the next city mayor.

Meanwhile, Iloilo City Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said he will announce his own “dream team” on November 3.

Mabilog, who will run for mayor next year, has offered his group’s congressional slot to Treñas.

Mabilog said their slate is multi-sectoral in nature as it is composed of lawyers, medical professionals, incumbent councilors, media practitioner and members of the cause-oriented groups.

“We want to make sure that our dream team will become the real voice of the people that’s why we selected people from various sectors,” Mabilog said.

With or without Treñas in their slate, Mabilog said they will push through with their slate and plans in the 2010 elections.

“We have an alternative candidate should Mayor Treñas declines our invitation,” he added. (With reports from Lydia C. Pendon)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MALACAÑANG continues to intervene in Iloilo City politics by trying to strike a compromise between Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. who is running for mayor in 2010.

Sources both from the Gonzalez and Treñas groups claimed that President Gloria Arroyo convened the two leaders to a meeting at the Palace Thursday.

Apparently, the administration is trying to maintain its foothold in Iloilo City by keeping Gonzalez and Treñas in the same group.

Treñas, who is serving his final three-year term as mayor, is being cajoled by the Jerry P. Treñas for Congressman Movement to vie for the lone district of Iloilo City. The movement submitted to Treñas last Tuesday some 10,000 signatures of persons who claim they support the mayor’s candidacy for congressman.

Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr., the son of Sec. Gonzalez, still has one term left.

Rep. Gonzalez said he intends to finish his term.

A punong barangay identified with Gonzalez confirmed the Malacañang meeting but refused to give details.

In a text message to The Daily Guardian, Treñas denied the Malacañang meeting with Sec. Gonzalez. But he refused to divulge the purpose of his trip to Metro Manila.

“Secret,” the mayor said in his text message.

A likely compromise is for Treñas to run for vice mayor alongside Sec. Gonzalez so that Rep. Gonzalez can finish his term.

Another scenario is for Rep. Gonzalez to slide to the mayoralty post and give way to Treñas.

The second option surfaced when President Arroyo spent a night in Iloilo during her visit to Iloilo last September 24-25. The President reportedly met the two political leaders to discuss their ticket next year.

Treñas earlier said he will go on vacation next week to reflect on his political plans next year.

“I am agonizing over this,” Treñas said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

WHAT path will the bearded Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas follow as the 2010 elections get near?

Treñas said he will take time off starting next week to reflect on his political.

Treñas broached his plan for a retreat after receiving more than 10,000 signatures from the Jerry Treñas for Congressman Movement (JTCM) the other day.

“I will go on vacation starting next week so I can think things over,” he said.

Rudy Eslita, JTCM convenor, submitted Tuesday to Treñas’ office the folders containing the signatures of individuals who urged the mayor to run for congressman.

Treñas, who earlier told the media he will announce his plans on October 31, said the gestures of the movement will be a big factor in any decision he will make.

Treñas is in a bind as he stands to break up from the group of Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. should he run for the lone congressional seat of Iloilo.

Gonzalez’s son and namesake, Raul Jr., is still eligible to run for congressman in 2010.

Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who has already declared his candidacy for mayor next year, has invited Treñas to join his group and run for congressman.

Mabilog’s declaration to run for city mayor was the first crack to surface in the Gonzalez-Treñas bloc.

In an interview with Serbisyo Publiko hosted by Councilor Perla Zulueta last Sunday, Mabilog said the rift began when a certain person who also eyed the vice mayor’s office entered Gonzalez’s group.

“Since then, that person began to spread rumors about my sexuality, my wealth and other nasty stories. I did not instigate the friction. It was the Gonzalez group who distanced from me,” Mabilog said.

Meanwhile, a village chief in Iloilo City said they are hopeful that the Gonzalez-Treñas group will remain intact.

Punong Barangay Roberto Divinagracia of Brgy. San Agustin, Iloilo City Proper said there is 60% chance that Rep. Gonzalez Jr. will give way to Treñas and will run for mayor instead.

The group’s vice mayor could be Gonzalez Sr. or Iloilo City Councilor Jose “Joe” Espinosa III.

“Mayor Treñas and Sec. Gonzalez are still talking about their plans next year. We will wait for the outcome of their conversation.” Divinagracia said.

But if Treñas runs against Rep. Gonzalez, Divinagracia said he will just sit down at his home and watch TV.

“I will not campaign for any of them if they run against each other. They are both my idols,” Divinagracia said over Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

WILL another call center investor pull out from Iloilo City because of expensive electricity?

 

Reports came out yesterday that Callbox, Inc., the first business processes outsourcing (BPO) investor in the city, is planning to transfer its Iloilo operations to another location.

 

The main reason is the expensive power rates of Panay Electric Co. (Peco), the sole power distributor in the city.

 

Top Callbox officials headed by chief executive officer Rom Agustin met Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas to discuss their concerns regarding the city’s power situation.

 

Treñas confirmed the meeting with Callbox executives who raised their concerns about the city’s expensive power rates.

 

“Namahalan na gid sila (They find it very expensive). But they did not broach the possibility of relocating to other areas,” Treñas said.

 

Treñas said he will try to help resolve the issue to save the employment generated by the BPO firm.

 

Callbox sources said they are also wondering why brownouts continue to happen despite Peco’s high rate of electricity presently pegged at P13 per kilowatt-hour.

 

But Glen Norris, Callbox chief operating officer, said the report on their plans to leave Iloilo is “interesting but not true.”

 

“We are not leaving,” Norris said in a text message.

 

Expensive power rates is one of the main stumbling blocks to Iloilo’s investment growth as pointed out by previous Philippine Cities Competitiveness surveys conducted by the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

 

According to its official website, Callbox is a full service sales and marketing firm that provides outbound and inbound sales solutions, creative marketing support, and database services.

 

Callbox complements the sales process of businesses, enabling them to accelerate revenue growth and market capture with its global database and cutting-edge service delivery systems. By providing valuable insight on best practices and top notch sales support, Callbox allows businesses to focus on developing their products and services.

 

Launched in Los Angeles, California, Callbox provides global market access to leading industries such as software and technology services, financial, medical and business services from its offices in the US, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, the United Kingdom and the Philippines.

 

Callbox is operating in the cities of Iloilo, Davao and Makati.

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