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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.

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.

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

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

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)

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

THE group of Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas will announce their final slate for the 2010 elections at the Office of the City Mayor in Robinsons Place Mall around 11am today.

The mayor is expected to reveal their mayoral and City Council bets after Councilor Jose S. Espinosa III declared his intention to run for vice mayor at Madge Café in LaPaz district public market Tuesday.

Treñas earlier said he is set to join the Nacionalista Party headed by Senator Manuel Villar next week.

As regards Treñas’ tandem with Iloilo City Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, nothing definite has been decided yet.

Espinosa’s candidacy for vice mayor was seen as a spoiler to the Treñas-Mabilog tandem as the vice mayor is keen on having Councilor Julienne Baronda as his running mate.

Treñas reportedly wants his brother-in-law Espinosa to be Mabilog’s running mate as a compromise to their alliance.

Espinosa said they are also open to an alliance with mayorable Lorenzo “Larry” Jamora, presidential adviser on waters.

“If the alliance with Vice Mayor Mabilog does not materialize, we can go with Larry Jamora or we can go on without a mayoral candidate,” he said.

In an interview with Aksyon Radyo, Mabilog said he is more inclined to go with Baronda as his running mate.

During his declaration, Espinosa said his experience in the City Council and their family’s inclination to public service are his best assets.

Espinosa said he will be an able partner of the city mayor and congressman by way of directing legislative works in the council.

Espinosa said he has sponsored numerous resolutions and ordinances that attracted investors and jacked up revenues in the city aside from steering the appropriations committee.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo 

ILOILO City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas will formally join the Nacionalista Party next week.

Treñas will fly to Metro Manila next week to take his membership oath before NP president, Senator Manuel Villar.

Villar is also NP’s standard bearer in the 2010 presidential elections.

Treñas is the only one who will join NP as he has yet to reach an agreement with the group Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog who will run for mayor against Sec. Raul M. Gonzalez Sr.

The city mayor quit Partido Lakas-Kampi-CMD after he declared his intention to wrest the lone congressional seat of the city from incumbent Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr.

City Hall sources claimed Treñas is willing to tandem with Mabilog if the latter chooses Councilor Jose Espinosa III as his vice mayoral bet.

Espinosa will declare his candidacy for vice mayor today at Madge coffee shop inside the LaPaz district public market.

Espinosa and Treñas are brothers-in-law.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

UNDERSECRETARY Lorenzo H. Jamora is willing to leave the administration party if he is not chosen as the mayoral bet of Lakas-Kampi-CMD in Iloilo City next year.

Jamora said he does not mind running as an independent candidate as he does not want too much compromises.

Jamora, who is the presidential adviser on waters, was chairman of Kabalikat ng Mamayang Pilipino (Kampi) before it merged with Lakas-CMD party early this year.

Kampi is President Gloria Arroyo’s original political party.

Aside from Jamora, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. is also running for Iloilo City mayor next year.

Sec. Gonzalez is the vice president for legal matters of the administration coalition party.

Lakas-Kampi-CMD, through its arbitration committee, is set to decide who between Jamora and Gonzalez will be the administration’s mayoral bet in the city.

Jamora said he would let the party decide instead of leaving their group on his own.

Where will Jamora go after he leaves Lakas-Kampi-CMD?

Jamora said he has invitations from the Nacionalista and Liberal parties “but I have not decided yet.”

“Sometimes it’s better to run on your own to avoid too much compromises when you are in a party,” he said.

Jamora said he is close to LP presidential bet Benigno Aquino III and NP standard bearer Manuel Villar but he is inclined to support administration bet and Defense Sec. Gilbert Teodoro.

“I believe Sec. Teodoro is the most prepared and qualified to become president. You can see that with the way he responds to questions about his platforms and his experience in government service.”

Jamora formally announced his candidacy for mayor Friday the 13th at Merry Mart mall which is owned by their family.

When asked if he has told President Arroyo about his political plans, Jamora said he did not discuss his candidacy with her.

“This is the realization of my plans which was stalled in 2004. President Arroyo asked me not to run for mayor and instead help her run for president. I think I’ve done my share for her government,” he said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

WHO’S afraid of Friday the 13th?

Not Presidential Adviser on Water Lorenzo “Larry” H. Jamora who will formally launch his candidacy for Iloilo City mayor on the date usually associated to bad luck in this country.

“My announcement will finally clear the air about my intentions for the 2010 elections in Iloilo City. There are some who ask me if I will run for congressman. This announcement will put the issue to rest,” Jamora said.

Jamora said his announcement will also prove that his family is 100% behind his bid as even his 96-year-old mother will be present.

“My intention to run for mayor and serve the city is not just a personal commitment but also a family matter. Our family will be there to prove that they are one with me,” he added.

But Jamora said there will be no surprises when he announces his intention to run for mayor as he will reveal his slate on another date.

He said he is still talking to personalities who want to run as vice mayor, councilor or even congressman.

But Jamora said he has yet to reach an agreement with Mayor Jerry P. Treñas who is running for congressman opposite Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr.

As regards national politics, Jamora said he is committed to help Defense Sec. Gilbert Teodoro, the presidential bet of Partido Lakas Kampi (PLK), because of their close family and professional ties.

Teodoro is a nephew of beverage tycoon Eduardo Cojuangco whose wife Gretchen is related to the Jamora-Oppen families.

PLK is set to arbitrate if who between Jamora and Sec. Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. will be the administration’s mayoral bet in Iloilo City.

But with or without the nomination of a national party, Jamora said will still run for mayor.

“I can even run alone in the city if I want to. If there are people who will join my cause, so be it,” he said.

Jamora vowed to improve tax collection to generate more revenues for the city government. He also mulls to offer incentives to business investors to create more jobs in the metropolis, particularly in the business processes outsourcing sector.  

Jamora was administrator of the Local Water Utilities Administration and Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System before being assigned as presidential adviser on waters.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILOILO City Mayor Jerry Treñas will not cross swords with lone district Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr. whom he will challenge in the 2010 congressional race in the city.

Treñas refused to react to Gonzalez’s statement questioning the mayor’s motivation to run for the city’s lone congressional seat.

Gonzalez said he was wondering why Treñas attributed his decision to God’s will after a period of deep discernment.

“I have not heard my friend who followed his own path include the name of God in his previous speeches. But now he is invoking God already when he announced his decision to run for congressman,” the congressman said.

Gonzalez also rapped Treñas for being impatient which fragmented their group’s unity. He said the mayor could have waited until he completes his last 3-year term as congressman for the sake of the city’s development.

Treñas said he does not want to directly confront or fire back at Gonzalez as it is not his habit to speak ill of people.

But the mayor showed an image of the Virgin Mary and a rosary tucked behind his table nameplate to prove his religious devotion.

“You don’t hear me speak anything against anybody. I don’t want to engage in such things,” Treñas said.

Treñas decision to run, which he also attributed to popular sentiment, cut his alliance with the Gonzalezes and Partido Lakas Kampi.

The mayor said he will resign from the administration party as he cannot expect to be chosen as its standard bearer under the principle of equity of the incumbent.

Presidential Political Adviser Gabriel Claudio said they hope to prevent Treñas from leaving the party despite declaring his intention to run against Gonzalez.

Claudio said in an interview with Bombo Radyo that Treñas and Gonzalez are valuable members of the party.

“As much as possible, we want both of them to stay with Partido Lakas Kampi because they are important personalities in the group. As long as Mayor Treñas has not tendered his resignation from the party, we believe we can make him stay,” Claudio said.

Claudio said PLK is set to decide who between Chief Presidential Legal Adviser Raul Gonzalez Sr. and Presidential Assistant on Waters Lorenzo “Larry” Jamora will be the party’s mayoral bet in the city.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

PARTIDO Lakas Kampi (PLK) will decide soon if who will be the administration party’s standard bearer in Iloilo City.

House Majority Floor Leader Arthur D. Defensor Sr. said PLK’s arbitration committee will deliberate if who between Sec. Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. and Undersecretary Lorenzo “Larry” Jamora will lead the party in the city.

Both Gonzalez and Jamora are eyeing the Iloilo City Mayor’s Office in the 2010 elections.

Gonzalez is a member of Lakas and the coalition party’s vice president for legal affairs while Jamora is identified with the Kapatiran ng Mamayang Pilipino (Kampi), the original political party of President Gloria Arroyo.

Lakas-CMD and Kampi merged last May in preparation for the 2010 national and local elections.

Defensor, who is a member of the arbitration committee, said the principle of equity of the incumbent cannot apply on Iloilo City’s mayoral race since Mayor Jerry Treñas is serving his last three year term.

“The post is open as Mayor Treñas cannot seek reelection anymore. The arbitration committee will settle this matter soon,” Defensor said.

Jamora said he will get Kampi’s endorsement as the party’s mayoral bet in the city.

But Iloilo City Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr. said his father will secure PLK’s nomination for the top post in Iloilo City.

“We respect Mr. Jamora’s belief that he has the backing of Kampi but I believe that Sec. Gonzalez will be the administration’s candidate here in the city,” Rep. Gonzalez said.

Still, Jamora said he can run as independent without the backing of any party.

“With or without the party, I am decided to run for Iloilo City mayor,” he said.

Two days after Treñas declared his intention to run for Iloilo City congressman, reports surfaced that Sec. Gonzalez might run for congressman while his son Rep. Raul Jr. will slide to the mayoral race.

BIG BLOW

Meanwhile, Rep. Defensor said the decision of Mayor Treñas to leave Lakas so he can run for congressman is a big blow to the administration party.

“But I respect Mayor Treñas’ decision. It was a natural recourse for him,” Defensor said.

Defensor said he saw himself in Treñas’ shoes when he first ran for Iloilo governor in 1992 against former Gov. Simplicio Griño.

“I had to leave my old party and join Lakas because Griño enjoyed the equity of the incumbent,” Defensor said.

Defensor said the match between Rep. Gonzalez and Treñas “will be a good and interesting fight.”

LP INVITE

The Liberal Party has invited Treñas to be their group’s congressional bet in Iloilo City.

Former Senator and LP president Franklin M. Drilon said he relayed the invitation to Treñas after the latter decided to run for congress.

Drilon said over Aksyon Radyo that Treñas was non-committal “but he promised to think things over.”

LP held its Visayas-wide convention at Westown Hotel Thursday to choose its delegates to the national convention on November 16.

Among the 80 delegates present in the Visayas convention was Iloilo City Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who is running for city mayor.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILOILO City Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr. said he was pained by the decision of Mayor Jerry P. Treñas to challenge him in the 2010 congressional race in the city.

Describing Treñas as his “friend who strayed away”, Gonzalez expressed his dismay over the mayor’s decision to tangle against him in 2010 during a press conference Wednesday at Iloilo Grand Hotel.

What was supposed to be a simple media interaction turned into a show of force what with the presence of 144 incumbent punong barangays, 50 ex-punong barangays and 34 barangay kagawads.

Marjorie, a staff of Rep. Gonzalez’s district office, said they sent out the invitation to village chiefs on Tuesday right after Treñas announced his decision to run for congressman.

Gonzalez said Treñas’ decision was not unexpected as they already heard speculations about the mayor’s plans for 2010.

Treñas said he will also quit Partido Lakas-CMD Kampi as a consequence of his decision to challenge Rep. Gonzalez.

The incumbent congressman said the development is painful not only for him but for their entire group, including the barangay captains.

“I was pained by his act and I know most of our barangay captains and supporters feel the same way too,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said he has no quarrel with Treñas and they share the same views on how to run Iloilo City.

“We share the same visions (but) why can’t he wait? Three years is very short. I still feel the pangs of the 2007 elections,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez is gunning for his last three-year term next year.

Gonzalez also took exceptions from Treñas’ statement last Tuesday that he heeded the people’s call that he run for congressman.

“Does he mean to say that the leaders of the barangays don’t carry the voice of the people? Our party gave importance to the barangay leaders by heeding their calls because they represent their constituents,” he added.

The congressman said his father, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr., made several offers to Treñas in order to preserve their team. But he said he did not participate in the negotiations out of delicadeza.

“We had plans for him because of his leadership quality, intelligence and track record. It would be such a waste if we don’t harness his abilities to develop the city like what we did before.”

Despite their looming rivalry next year, Gonzalez said he wishes Treñas all the best for next year.

“He is still the best mayor I know and a good leader. I know his competence and intelligence but I am not afraid,” Gonzalez said.

He also thanked the mayor for finally announcing his decision “as we have been planning to declare our slate but we postponed it until he made public his plans.”

DOOR STILL OPEN

Rep. Gonzalez said their party will hold a convention November 14 to decide who will be their candidates for vice mayor and councilors.

 As regards punong barangays who will support Treñas, Gonzalez said their party is still open for them.

“Our doors are not yet closed (to them) because our city acknowledges the contributions of our barangay leaders,” he added.

Gonzalez said Treñas’ decision to break away from their group is a natural evolution and consequence because their party is the strongest to rise in Iloilo City. 

“But as long as we stand united, we will prevail,” Gonzalez said amidst cheers from village chiefs and other supporters.

DECLARATION  Iloilo City Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog announces his candidacy for city mayor in the 2010 elections at the UP Visayas auditorium in Iloilo City Monday. He is joined by his wife Ma. Victoria, daughter Patricia and son Jonathan Felix Miguel. (Photo by Tara Yap)

DECLARATION Iloilo City Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog announces his candidacy for city mayor in the 2010 elections at the UP Visayas auditorium in Iloilo City Monday. He is joined by his wife Ma. Victoria, daughter Patricia and son Jonathan Felix Miguel. (Photo by Tara Yap)

Jed eyes Treñas as congressional bet

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILOILO City Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog launched his ambition to occupy the City Mayor’s Office by rebuking what he called intimidations and threats of political behemoths in the city.

In a gathering at the University of the Philippines-Visayas auditorium Monday, Mabilog said he accepts the clamor of more than 60% of Iloilo City residents that he run for mayor in the May 2010 elections.

He said he is ready to challenge the “monolithic political group” here led by former Justice secretary, now chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr.

“I humbly accept your call for new and fresh leadership by running for mayor of our great and noble city in 2010. Ini nga pag-pamat-ud indi para sa personal nga handum o pag-pang hangkat sang iban (This decision is not for personal ambitions or other people’s challenge). My decision is in response to the Ilonggos’ call for fresh leadership,” Mabilog said.

Mabilog, who is a member of the Lakas-CMD party, will run against his party mate Gonzalez Sr. who is also eyeing the mayoralty post.

But the vice mayor said he has no qualms in severing his party ties with the Gonzalezes.

“I have no qualms in leaving an organization if it means bowing down to the will of the people. After all, power emanates from the people, not from a chosen few or a single person. I also have no pretensions for power for it is a mere instrument to obey popular sentiment and promote common welfare,” Mabilog said.

Mabilog also urged his supporters to be brave despite threats and intimidations from his opponents.

“If you are afraid today, we will lose our future. Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with all the money and influence, but for every Ilonggo who’s willing to toil for their dreams,” he said.

PLATFORMS

Mabilog also outlined his programs of government in his 6-page speech which lasted for more than an hour.

“Some of our specific task is free education for elementary and high school students. We will also strive to provide decent shelter and housing to those who live in shanties, under multimillion bridges and, worst, in critical areas such as flood-prone riverbanks,” Mabilog said.

Mabilog also vowed to focus on environmental concerns by “promoting technologies and lifestyle that care for our natural resources and ecology.”

As regards the power crisis, Mabilog said his administration will triple its efforts to look for renewable and sustainable sources. He will seek the help of the national government in solving the water shortage in Iloilo City.

The vice mayor said he will also work for the professionalization of the City Hall workforce, reduce bureaucratic red tape and eliminate informal fees.

LINEUP

Mabilog said he has yet to complete his slate for the 2010 elections but the presence of several personalities in the gathering was a telltale sign of his running mate and candidates to the City Council.

Among those present were Councilors Julienne Baronda, Lex Tupas and Lyndon Acap; former councilors Erlinda Liberiaga, Marietta Orleans and Joshua Alim.

Lawyers Plaridel Nava and R. Leony Gerochi were also seen at the gathering.

Former Iloilo City police director Norlito Bautista delivered a message before Mabilog’s speech.

Mabilog said Baronda and Tupas are capable of becoming his running mate but he made no categorical statement.

Mabilog said he is also eyeing Iloilo Mayor Jerry Treñas to become their bet in the race for the lone congressional district of city, opposite Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr.

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