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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.

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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.

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

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 

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

MIXED reactions met the decision of Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas II to withdraw from the 2010 presidential race in favor of Liberal Party colleague Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III.

Roxas’s partymates in Iloilo believe that his sacrifice move in favor of party and national unity will boost LP’s chances in the 2010 polls.

Iloilo Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. said he was surprised when Roxas called him Tuesday afternoon and told him about his decision to give up his presidential ambition.

“Mar told me that Noynoy was already interested in the presidency and he will run for vice president only. I was surprised but I don’t have any objection to Noynoy being the standard bearer of LP next year,” Tupas said.

Tupas said Roxas’s act of statesmanship and Aquino’s popularity will be a strong combination that will bolster LP’s bid to dominate the polls.

Calls for Aquino to run for president rang with the resurgence of the so-called Cory magic when former president Corazon Aquino died last month.

Atty. Bengie Gengos, LP chair in Iloilo City, said Roxas’s decision was the “supreme act of sacrifice, the supreme act of statesmanship.”

“It does not mean that he is weak leader. In fact, it takes a lot of courage to give up one’s personal dreams in the name of unity and change,” Gengos said.

Gengos’s said Aquino’s integrity is unquestioned which bodes well for his presidential ambition next year.

WRONG MOVE?

Iloilo Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico said Roxas’s withdrawal from the presidential race will benefit Sen. Manuel “Manny” Villar who is currently leading poll surveys.

Suplico said Ilonggos who rooted for Roxas will switch to Villar who also traces his roots to Iloilo City and the town of Cabatuan.

“Ilonggos in Panay and Negros want one of their own to become president because it has been a long time since we had an Ilonggo president from Western Visayas. Sen. Roxas’s decision will help consolidate Sen. Villar’s foothold in Region 6,” Suplico said.

Suplico added: “It’s a graceful exit for Mar (Roxas). But Noynoy is the weaker candidate vis-à-vis Mar, who would have been the stronger candidate. We expect the entire Visayas to unite behind Manny Villar.”

House Majority Floor Leader Arthur Defensor Sr. said Aquino’s status as the son of two democracy heroes – Ninoy and Cory Aquino – is no guarantee that he will lead LP to victory.

Defensor said while he respects Aquino as a lawmaker and a person, the latter has no track record in party leadership compared to Roxas.

Logistics and organizational problems may also beset Aquino’s bid to win the presidency, he added.

Common folks on coffeeshops and the streets also have their say on Roxas’s withdrawal from the 2010 race.

Edgar Santos, 45, of Arevalo, Iloilo City said he admires Roxas’s sacrificial move in favor of Aquino. But Santos also took note of the fact that Roxas was not doing well in surveys.

Rita Peñafiel of Jaro, Iloilo City said while she admires Aquino, she also wanted an Ilonggo to lead the country in the next six years.

“We will find out what programs the candidates will offer us during campaign period,” Peñafiel said.

Nursing student Jenina Arguazado asked a more showbiz question: Is Mar’s wedding with TV personality Korina Sanchez still a go?

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