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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.

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo and Lydia C. Pendon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Francis Allan L. Angelo and Lydia C. Pendon

THE planned alliance between the groups of Iloilo Mayor Jerry P. Treñas and Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog is heading to nowhere.

Treñas, who is running for congressman, and Mabilog, who seeks to become city mayor, have been negotiating about the possible merger of their groups.

But the talks reportedly broke down because of the conflict on the vice mayoral candidate.

Treñas was supposed to declare his complete slate 11am yesterday at his office in Robinsons Place mall after his brother-in-law, Councilor Jose S. Espinosa III declared his candidacy for vice mayor.

Political observers said the announcement should have formalized the Treñas-Mabilog alliance.

But Treñas abruptly postponed his announcement after Mabilog’s group decided to endorse Councilor Julienne Baronda candidacy for vice mayor.

Baronda declared her candidacy at Amigo Terrace Hotel around 1pm Wednesday.

Mabilog’s group also announced their bets for the City council – reelectionist Lyndon Acap, former city councilors Linda Liberiaga and Joshua Alim, lawyer Plaridel Nava and Rleonie Geroche, broadcaster Rodel Fullon Agado and Leftist Jory Porquia.

Mabilog said the remaining slots are reserved for city councilors Perla Zulueta and Nielex Tupas and Treñas’ candidates to the council.

Mabilog described their slate as a merger of candidates from various parties – Nacionalista, Liberal, PDP-Laban and Partido ng Masang Pilipino.

Baronda said there is no turning back on her plans to run for vice mayor.

“Forget about straight party ticket and block voting. The electorates of this city are educated to know who are more qualified to render public service,” Baronda said.

Baronda said their slate is a Dream Team that will challenge the monolithic political supremacy of the ruling Lakas Kampi CMD in Iloilo City.

Mabilog said the national leaderships of the various parties assented to their dream team amidst possible conflict among presidential bets.

The vice mayor said they don’t mind the possible problems that may arise from the setup as they can stand on their own resources and supporters.

Mabilog’s slate said their agenda will cover the issues of education, infrastructures, environment, public utilities, good governance, health services, peace and order, tourism promotion, overseas Filipino workers and disaster preparedness program.

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

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.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILOILO City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas will finally lay down his political agenda in the 2010 elections next week.

In an invitation sent by the City Hall Public Information Office via text message, Treñas will declare his intentions in a press conference 9am of November 3.

The presscon will be held at the Treñas-Rubias Law Offices on the second floor of Golden Commercial Center at Iznart Street, Iloilo City.

The mayor’s political plans have been the subject of debates and discussions in the media and every corner of Iloilo City.

Pundits and analysts said Treñas is “torn between two lovers” because of his alliance with the group of Sec. Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. and the invitation of Vice Mayor Jed E. Patrick Mabilog to run for congressman. But he may also team up with the group of businessman Larry Jamora who is running for mayor.

Gonzalez, who is running for mayor, said Treñas is still with their group amidst calls for the mayor to run for congressman versus incumbent Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr.

Rep. Gonzalez is still eligible to run next year for his last 3-year term.

Sec. Gonzalez is reportedly offering the vice mayoral post to Treñas to avoid a “civil war” in their group.

Mabilog said they invited the mayor to run for the lone congressional seat of the city.

Treñas said Wednesday that he is seeking God’s guidance relative to his decision.

“I will decide on the basis of what is good for the city,” he said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

WILL Mayor Jerry P. Treñas further his political career or will he call it quits?

This might be the question boggling Treñas’ mind as the 2010 national and local elections approaches.

Treñas said he will announce his political plans October 31 even as various parties are reportedly wooing him.

The mayor is in a bind as he is serving his last three-year term as chief executive of Iloilo City.

If Treñas runs for congressman, he will face his political ally, incumbent Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr., son of Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. who is running for Iloilo City mayor.

Treñas and the Gonzalezes are members of the ruling Lakas-CMD-Kampi party.

Rep. Gonzalez said Treñas has three options should he remain with the administration party: he will run as vice mayor in tandem with Sec. Gonzalez Sr., he will be appointed city administrator; or he will be given a cabinet post if the administration continues its hold on Malacañang.

Rep. Gonzalez said he will still run for congressman next year unless their party decides otherwise.

There have been reports lately that Lakas might rearrange its ticket in Iloilo City: Treñas for congressman, Rep. Gonzalez for mayor and City Councilor Jose Espinosa III for vice mayor.

The reports on the Treñas, Gonzalez Jr. and Espinosa slate got louder after local Lakas leaders had a closed-door meeting with President Arroyo last week here in Iloilo City. Rumors have it the President made the “instructions”.

“That scenario remains a speculation until the party decides,” Rep. Gonzalez’s response to the said proposal.

Aside from administration party, the opposition bloc is also awaiting Treñas’ decision.

Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who will run for mayor against Gonzalez last year, said his decision to join Liberal Party (LP) is hinged on Treñas’ political plans.

Mabilog said LP invited him to be their standard bearer in Iloilo City “but I am awaiting Mayor Treñas’ decision if he will run for congressman or not.”

When asked over Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo if he will join LP presidential bet Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, Treñas said the only time he accompanied Aquino was during cigarette breaks when they were still college students.

Sources close to Treñas said the mayor might opt to quit politics to avoid confrontation with the Gonzalezes.

A source, who sought anonymity to discuss the issue freely, said that while the non-confrontational Treñas wants to occupy a higher post, he is also wary of crossing the Gonzalezes who helped him become mayor.

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