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Ausan sees complications in SC ruling on appointive officials

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE decision of President Gloria Arroyo to run for representative of the 2nd congressional district of Pampanga in the 2010 election does not demean her status and the Office of the President.

Former Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. said President Arroyo did not degrade her present position by bidding to serve her constituents in Pampanga.

Critics of the Arroyo administration said the President should quit politics having served as the highest official of the land for nine years already. Her decision will debase the Office of the President as an institution.

“Service is never demeaning. The President’s decision to run for Congress is part of her desire to serve her own people in Pampanga. And there is no law barring her from running for any office except the presidency,” Gonzalez said.

When asked if President Arroyo is just seeking immunity from possible suits due to various high-profile anomalies hounding her administration by running for congresswoman, Gonzalez said the immunity only applies on actions and deliberations during sessions.

“The immunity also applies to crimes punishable by imprisonment of less than six years. There have been several congressmen who were convicted of crimes filed against them,” he added.

As regards President Arroyo becoming House Speaker, Gonzalez said it depends on the House of Representatives.

“She is very much qualified (to become House Speaker). The President is the most qualified and well-informed president that we had. Only that she does not get the credit for what she has done,” he added.

President Arroyo personally filed her certificate of candidacy in Pampanga Tuesday morning.

Gonzalez said the decision of ousted president and convicted plunderer Joseph Estrada to seek the presidency is more immoral.

“It is more ignoble as he already knows that he is disqualified under the Constitution,” Gonzalez said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Francis Allan L. Angelo 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

THE Regional Trial Court ordered the exclusion of Iloilo Provincial Administrator Manuel P. Mejorada from the voters’ list of Alimodian, Iloilo for failure to establish his residency in the said town.

In a decision promulgated October 29, 2009, Judge Antonio M. Natino of RTC Branch 26 reversed an earlier decision of 14th Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Aleosan which dismissed the exclusion case filed against Mejorada.

MCTC Judge Alpha Sanglap-Delgado earlier ruled that Mejorada is validly registered as a voter in Barangay Pajo, Alimodian, Iloilo, as he met all the requirements provided by law.

Delgado said the exclusion case filed by Netch Flavio and Ireneo Mondero had malicious ends.

But Judge Natino said Mejorada’s intention to reside at Brgy. Pajo, Alimodian is not enough to back his registration as a voter of Precinct No. 0100A in the said village.

“Intention to reside in a place, though how pure, is not sufficient. It must be coupled with a conduct indicative of or proving such intention,” Natino said.

Natino said Mejorada failed to prove that he has given up his residence at Lopez Jaena Street, Jaro, Iloilo City despite his intention to buy a parcel of lot and the nipa hut he constructed on the said lot at Brgy. Pajo.

“…Private respondent (Mejorada) failed to establish the fact of his residence at Barangay Pajo, Alimodian, Iloilo. Even the receipts which the private respondent (presented) showing the utility bills in their house in Jaro under the name of his deceased father-in-law cannot disprove, by his own admission, the fact that he is and still a resident of Jaro, Iloilo City and that he has not abandoned the said place as his place of residence,” Natino said.

Citing Republic Act 8189 (The Voters Registration Act of 1996), Natino said the nipa hut Mejorada constructed at Brgy. Pajo does not fall within the category of residence.

“Accordingly, let the name of Manuel Pichay Mejorada be excluded from the List of Voters of Precinct No. 0100A, Barangay Pajo, Alimodian, Iloilo,” the RTC decision said. 

In 2007, Mejorada was also excluded from the voters’ list of Brgy. Amparo, Pavia, Iloilo for almost the same grounds.

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

PRESIDENTIAL adviser on water Lorenzo “Larry” Jamora said he has no qualms in allying with Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas who will run for congressman next year.

Jamora said he is comfortable with Treñas as they have been in politics together since 2001.

“I have no problem if I tandem with Jerry Treñas because we started together with former mayor Mansueto Malabor and Sec. Raul Gonzalez Sr.,” he said.

Jamora, who is running for Iloilo City mayor, said Treñas’ declaration will benefit his candidacy.

He said Treñas’ decision to break away from the group of Sec. Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. will distract the latter’s focus from his candidacy for mayor.

“With Jerry running against Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr., Sec. Gonzalez will lose concentration on his plans to run for mayor and will focus on his son instead. That will be an advantage for me,” Jamora said.

Jamora said he is open to talks with Treñas for a possible alliance in the 2010 elections in Iloilo City.

“That alliance depends on the terms and conditions of our partnership. The lines and functions must be defined and we should have elbow room in terms of our campaign,” Jamora said.

Treñas also has a standing invitation from Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who is running for mayor, to become their group’s congressional bet.

Mabilog said he is still hopeful that Treñas will accept their group’s invitation.

“There is still a big chance that he will align with us because he has severed his ties with the administration. Our group is the only opposition group right now. Since he left the administration, his natural course is to go to the opposition, either with Nacionalista Party or Liberal Party,” Mabilog said.

Mabilog said Treñas already hinted the possible parties he will join when the mayor mentioned that his grandfather, Sen. Potenciano Treñas was a Nacionalista member while his father Efraim Treñas was a Liberal.

Mabilog was supposed to announce their complete slate for the city council yesterday but it was postponed because the survey they commissioned is not finished yet.

Mabilog said the survey will be the basis of their final slate “but the results have yet to be finalized.”

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

NOVEMBER will be a month of revelations as regards politics in Iloilo City.

Tomorrow, November 3, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas will announce his political plans for the 2010 elections in a 9am press conference at his law office on Iznart Street.

Treñas has several options regarding his political career:

–         quit politics;

–         remain with the group of Sec. Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. and slide to the vice mayoral post;

–         accept Iloilo City Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog’s invitation to run for congressman;

–         join the group of mayoral candidate Lorenzo “Larry” Jamora.

Treñas said he agonized over his decision and reflected on what is good for him, his family and the city.

The so-called Jerry Treñas for Congressman Movement gathered more than 10,000 signatures of people who claim to support the mayor’s candidacy for the city’s lone congressional seat.

If Treñas runs for congressman, he will face incumbent Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr.

After Treñas’ announcement, Mabilog will also announce their complete slate in a press conference around 11am of November 3.

Mabilog, who will run for mayor next year, described their slate as the “dream team” of Iloilo City as it is composed of representatives from various sectors in the city.

Sec. Gonzalez, who will also run for mayor, will also announce his running mate in two weeks.

Gonzalez, the chief presidential legal counsel, said he will seek the consensus of their party if who will be his running mate.

“Under the principle of equity of the incumbent, Jerry (Treñas) will get the slot of vice mayor. If he does not run for that post, we will look for a replacement via consensus,” Gonzalez said his TV and radio bloctime program “Counterstrike.”

Gonzalez said he had a 2-hour dinner with Treñas last Saturday “but he did not say anything about his decision.”

“Daw wala pa bala kaagahun (There’s no dawn yet). There are many speculations but we will just wait for the mayor’s announcement,” he added.

Gonzalez said he will tender his resignation from his cabinet post so he can file his certificate of candidacy before the November 30 deadline.

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

UNLIKE seasoned politicians, Iloilo City Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said he has no intention to cling to power.

This was Mabilog’s reaction to his critics’ claims that he is also a traditional politician what with his numerous posters and token gestures in assisting Iloilo City residents.

If elected, Mabilog, who is 44 years old, said he will serve as city mayor until he reaches age 50.

“I don’t intend to involve our clan in politics,” he said.

Mabilog said there is nothing wrong if he or his supporters hang his banners around Iloilo City.

“Other seasoned politicians hang bigger banners that say nothing. Some of my banners are meant to inform the public of what are my projects for the city,” Mabilog said.

Mabilog said one of his thrusts is to professionalize the city hall workforce “so we can groom future leaders.”

“I am not here to perpetuate myself in power but to serve and help others serve in the future. I am not a trapo (traditional politician) as others are saying because I don’t make politics my source of livelihood. Our family has no intention to put up a political dynasty. The ultimate indication of traditional politics is perpetuation in power,” he said.

Mabilog said he refuses to engage his critics in mudslinging “because that is also a form of traditional politics.”

“I will just talk about my achievements for the city. I will help in whatever way I can and let the people decide,” he added.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A THIRD force has emerged in the May 2010 gubernatorial race in Iloilo province.

Former Leganes mayor Josil Jaen said he is 95% sure to run for governor next year versus Rep. Arthur Defensor Sr. and Mayor Raul “Boboy” Tupas of Barotac Viejo.

Jaen announced his plan in an interview with Novie Guazo of RMN-Iloilo Tuesday evening.

Defensor will run under the ticket of the administration party Lakas-CMD-Kampi while Tupas is the standard-bearer of Liberal Party in the province.

Jaen’s announcement, however, complicates the ruling party’s slate in Iloilo as he will support Defense Sec. Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro who is Lakas-CMD-Kampi’s presidential bet.

But the former mayor clarified that his decision to run and support Teodoro does not mean that Lakas distrusts its leaders in the province.

“I just want to support him because I believe that he is qualified to become president,” Jaen said.

Defensor earlier dispelled stories that he will support another presidential bet instead of Teodoro.

“I am with the administration party and I will support our party’s candidate,” Defensor said.

Jaen said they will reveal middle of next month their slate which will include candidates for the House of Representatives, provincial board and town mayors.

A source within Jaen’s group who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak, said they eyeing former Iloilo mayors who served in the early 90s in their ticket.

The same source said they are considering former Sara Mayor Neptali P. Salcedo as their congressional bet in the 5th district.

“But these are just preliminaries as we are still negotiating with possible candidates,” the source said.

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

THE feud between the mayor and a member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Banate, Iloilo, who happen to be first cousins, continue to heat up.

This developed as SB Member Noel Bagsit accused Mayor Carlos “Intsik” Cabangal and his son Peter Paul of threatening the former with pistols Saturday evening.

Bagsit said he and his two companions on board his pick up truck were about to leave the Banate Ecopark behind the municipal hall when Cabangal’s vehicle blocked their path.

Bagsit said Cabangal went out of his car and confronted the former about the cases he filed against the mayor.

Bagsit filed grave threats and grave coercion against the mayor when the latter allegedly smashed the right tail light of the town councilor’s pickup truck.

The councilor said he then heard Cabangal say “Tapuson ta ini (Let’s finish this),” while brandishing a caliber .45 pistol.

Bagsit said he also saw Peter Paul Cabangal holding a pistol during the confrontation.

The argument ended when Cabangal’s family intervened.

In an interview with Aksyon Radyo, Cabangal denied Bagsit’s allegations saying it was the latter who instigated the quarrel.

Cabangal said Bagsit was drunk when he tried to talk with the councilor regarding their conflict. He said he tried to express his feelings to Bagsit about their quarrel since they are cousins.

The mayor said Bagsit moved towards his pickup and retrieved his gun.

Both town officials reported their own versions of the incident to the Banate police.

The falling out between Bagsit and Cabangal started when the former exposed the P11-million unliquidated cash advances of the mayor.

The cash advances were the subject of the annual audit report of the Commission of Audit on Banate’s financial standing.

Bagsit said the rift worsened when he voted against the approval of the P600,000 supplemental budget Cabangal requested from the municipal board.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THERE is no need to increase taxes to gain financial independence and implement projects, according to a mayoralty hopeful in Iloilo City.

Presidential adviser on water Lorenzo “Larry” Jamora said he will improve tax collection in the city to fund projects that will solve prevalent problems in the city such as bad roads and clogged drainage.

Jamora, a former administrator of Local Water Utilities Administration, said other urban centers such as Quezon City were able to jack up their revenues by improving their collections.

“We don’t need to increase taxes, we just have to improve collection efficiency. There is a need to look at how much we spend to collect P1 tax. If we are spending P5 for every P1 tax, then we are at a losing proposition,” Jamora said.

Jamora said he will also adopt “financial engineering” by offering more incentives to investors such as business processes outsourcing (BPO) firms.

He said incentives will entice investors to set up business in Iloilo City and generate jobs and increase the purchasing power of Ilonggos.

As regards the high cost of power and water shortage, Jamora said tax incentives will lessen the burden of investors who have to pay more for utilities.

Public markets managed by the city can be improved and generate more income through the build-operate-transfer scheme or public-private partnership, Jamora said.

“If we partner with the private sector, the city government will not spend a dime to improve our markets. We will even earn more from the market rentals,” he added.

Jamora will also bat for the revival of the Villa Beach area by reclaiming part of the sea and construction of a coastal road.

He said the projects can be implemented via public-private partnership to ease the City Government of possible financial burden.

“There is also no need to relocate the squatters in the Villa Beach area if we put up a coastal road and revive the beach. We have to reclaim the beach because we are depriving our children of a popular tourist spot that was very popular before,” he added.

On garbage disposal, Jamora said there is a need to close down the Calajunan dumpsite and put up a landfill outside the city.

“The trend nowadays is to find local government units that are willing to host landfills as these could generate income on their part,” he said.

Jamora said the Perimeter Boundary Ordinance (PBO) failed to loosen traffic congestion in Iloilo City. Instead, he proposed a selective color coding scheme to regulate the number of vehicles in the city.

“We can give window time to the color coding scheme by allowing private cars to go out on certain time of the day,” he said.

As regards his political party, Jamora said he can run as an independent if complications arise from his membership in the administration group.

Jamora is a member of Kapatiran ng Mamayang Pilipino which is in alliance with Lakas-CMD where Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul Gonzalez Sr. is also a member.

Gonzalez will also run for city mayor.

“I have talked to Sec. Gonzalez about this. He said the matter will be referred to the arbitration committee to settle the issue. Whatever is the result, I will still run even as an independent,” Jamora said.

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 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.

Gonzalez will do ‘anything’ for city’s redistricting

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

CHIEF Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. is willing to sell his soul to anybody if only to realize the redistricting of Iloilo City.

Gonzalez said he is also willing to leave the administration party in order to fulfill his desire to create a second congressional district in the metropolis.

The Iloilo City redistricting bill, which was filed by Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr., has hurdled the House of Representatives.

However, its counterpart measure in the Senate is still pending in the committee on local governments chaired by Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

Gonzalez Sr. earlier said Aquino gave false hopes to Ilonggos when he promised to deliberate on the redistricting bill.

Aquino denied Gonzalez’s accusation saying the redistricting bill does not satisfy the population requirement set by the 1986 Constitution for the creation of new districts. 

Gonzalez said he is losing hope on the passage of the redistricting bill before the November deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy.

The former justice secretary said he will do anything to realize the second congressional district in Iloilo City.

“I was willing to sell my soul to them in exchange for the passage of the bill. I feel bad because the bill has been sleeping in Noynoy’s (Aquino) committee for one year and a half. Noynoy promised me that he will schedule a committee deliberation on the bill April 3,” Gonzalez Sr. said.

The older Gonzalez said he is willing to support the Liberal Party if the redistricting bill hurdles Aquino’s committee.

Aquino is the LP’s presidential bet in the May 2010 elections.

Gonzalez had accused LP stalwarts, particularly former Senate President Franklin Drilon of impeding the redistricting bill.   

But Drilon had denied Gonzalez’s allegation saying the city is not qualified for another congressional district under the 1986 Constitution.

Gonzalez said Aquino and Drilon have no sense of gratitude.

“I helped Noynoy’s father, the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, when he was facing cases during the Marcos dictatorship. I also helped Drilon when he ran for senator,” Gonzalez said.

The redistricting bill is seen as a mechanism to prevent a clash between Rep. Gonzalez and Iloilo City Jerry Treñas for the lone congressional district of Iloilo City.

Treñas is currently serving his last three-year term but he has yet to announce his plans for the 2010 elections. (With reports from Bombo Radyo-Iloilo)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

SENATOR Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III rebutted claims that he gave false hopes to those who support the redistricting of Iloilo City.

In a press conference at the provincial capitol Friday, Aquino, Senate committee on local government chair, said he promised to conduct a hearing on the bill seeking to create a second congressional district in Iloilo City.

“Tuloy ang hearing but my position follows two criteria set by the Constitution – population and territory. In the case of Iloilo City, the population requirement was not met,” Aquino said.

Aquino was referring to the provision of the 1986 Constitution which states that each congressional district must have at least 250,000 population.

In the case of Iloilo City, it needs a total of 500,000 population to qualify for another congressional district. But the latest population survey shows that the city only has more than 418,000 residents. 

Earlier, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul Gonzalez Sr. earlier lambasted Aquino for giving false hopes to Ilonggos on the redistricting bill.

Gonzalez said Aquino promised to hear the bill when it reaches the Senate but the latter simply sat on it. 

“I assured the good secretary that we will hear the bill but at the end of the day, I am constrained by the Constitution,” Aquino said.

Aquino said the Supreme Court decision Gonzalez’s cited to push for the redistricting is still debatable.

The SC decided in Mariano vs Commission on Elections last March 7, 1995 that the legislative district of a city or province can be increased if it has met the minimum population requirement of 250,000.

“I just want to be fair. Proportional representation ang pinag-uusapan. The actual basis should be proportion: if Iloilo City has 250,000 population, it can have a district. If the population is less than the requirement, we cannot create another district. Dapat pantay-pantay lang because we all have equal rights,” Aquino said.

The senator said the redistricting bill will be useless as the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy is already near.

THE 14th Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Alimodian-Leon-San Miguel today ruled that Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada is validly registered as a voter in Barangay Pajo, Alimodian, Iloilo, saying he has met all the requirements and the case was apparently filed with malicious ends.

In a 14-page decision handed down by Judge Alpha Sanglap-Delgado, the court noted the glaring inconsistencies in the testimonies of the petitioners and their witnesses and expressed its distaste for a dangerous precedent of a “no house, no vote” scheme to disenfranchise voters.

“Let the name of Manuel Pichay Mejorada be retained by the public respondent, the Election Registration Board of Alimodian, Iloilo and that his name remain in the list of voters of Precinct No. 0100A Sitio Balogo, Brgy. Pajo, Alimodian, Iloilo,” the court declared.

Mejorada was served a copy of the decision at around 8:45am by 14th MCTC clerk of court Eli Cordero.

A triumphant Mejorada hailed the decision, saying it publicly repudiated the means employed by TESDA Director-General Augusto Boboy Syjuco to remove him as a threat in the May 2010 elections.

Mejorada said the court’s ruling sends a positive signal that powerful men like Syjuco cannot break the law at will and torment those who dare go against them.

Mejorada expressed his gratitude to Judge Sanlap-Delgado for upholding the law.

Her decision, he said, put to rest any doubts about his right to claim Sitio Balogo, Brgy. Pajo, Alimodian as his place of domicile.

The petition for exclusion against Mejorada was filed by TESDA employee Ireneo A. Mondero and the barangay secretary, Netch Flavio.

Mejorada is convinced the attempt to get his name removed from the list of registered voters of Precinct No. 0100A at Brgy. Pajo was made upon orders of Syjuco.

The decision said “it is deeply disturbed by the events that transpired in this case.”

The court noted that in the petition, Mondero claimed the nipa hut built by Mejorada had an “inner dimension of only six feet by four feet.”

“But when he (Mondero) testified, (it) was about eight feet by eight feet and was not sure anymore of the exact dimension,” the court observed.

The court also found that Mondero dismantled the house of Mejorada just so he can claim that the latter no longer had a house in that place.

“This is a dangerous precedent that may lead to mischievous consequences which are: ‘no house, no vote’ or ‘lose your house, lose your vote,” it said.

The court said that “the real purpose for the act of destruction of the house was for the instant petition and not for the flimsy reason of non-compliance of respondent Mejorada of the lease contract.”

“Whatever disagreements petitioner Ireneo A. Mondero had with the private respondent Manuel P. Mejorada does not give him the license to destroy the latter’s nipa hut and to put the law in his hands,” the court said.

The court made it clear that the demolition of the house does not strip Mejorada of his residence in Sitio Balogo, Brgy. Pajo, Alimodian.

“The nipa hut exists no more to protect the private respondent from the scourging heat of the sun by the very act of petitioner Ireneo A. Mondero but the Spirit of the Law lives on to let this man Manuel Pichay Mejorada have his place under the sun,” the court emphasized.

SB member files criminal raps vs mayor

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE mayor of Banate, Iloilo is facing criminal suits for grave coercion and grave threats filed by a municipal councilor.

Sangguniang Bayan Member Noel O. Bagsit filed the complaint against Mayor Carlos “Insik” Cabangal with the Iloilo Provincial Police Office Tuesday.

The case stemmed from a confrontation between Bagsit, who is the No.1 SB member in Banate, and Cabangal outside the office of the Banate Water District (BWD) last September 28.

In his complaint affidavit, Bagsit said he went to the office of his brother Felex Bagsit, general manager of the water district, around 3pm. He parked his Isuzu pickup truck in front of the Banate Fire Station which is in front of the BWD office.

Bagsit said he told a certain Fire Officer Poral to call him when there are emergencies so he can move his pickup from the drive way.

When Bagsit was about to leave the BWD office, he saw Cabangal, who was wearing a light blue shirt, on a motorcycle talking to another person outside the motor pool of the fire station.

A few moments later, Bagsit said he saw Cabangal alight from his motorcycle, approached the Isuzu pickup and smashed its right tail light thrice.

Cabangal then fled on board his motorcycle only to return to the scene of the incident minutes later wearing a dark blue shirt.

Bagsit said he saw something bulge from inside Cabangal’s waist which he suspected to be a handgun.

Bagsit said Cabangal confronted him why he parked his pickup truck in front of the fire truck.

The SB member said he asked permission from the fire station.

Bagsit said Cabangal alighted from his motorcycle and was about to draw from his waist presumably a handgun but police officers stopped him.

Before the incident, Bagsit said the municipal council denied the P600,000 supplemental budget requested by Cabangal.

The council also tackled the town’s unliquidated cash advances discovered by the Commission on Audit.

Bagsit said the brewing political situation in the town and Cabangal’s resentment on the SB’s refusal to approve the supplemental budget may have sparked the incident last September 28.

A witness, whose identity is withheld for security reasons, supported Bagsit’s statements in a sworn affidavit.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Office of the Ombudsman will look into the allegations that government-owned heavy equipments were used to construct the house of Iloilo Gov. Niel Tupas Sr.

Virginia Palanca-Santiago, assistant deputy Ombudsman for Visayas, said they will gather the facts surrounding the latest accusations against Tupas.

Santiago said they need to see the photographs and video footage of the province-owned dump trucks and bulldozer and grader owned by the Banate municipal government working in Tupas’ house at Brgy. Juanico, Banate.

Santiago said the use of government assets for private purposes is tantamount to misuse of government property and abuse of power on the part of an official.

She said they can initiate a formal investigation if they have enough evidence against the governor.

Tupas has denied using government-owned equipment to construct his house although he flipped-flopped in his earlier statements.

The governor initially told Ray Cabarles of RMN-Iloilo that the equipment have never come near his house.

Tupas later changed his tune when he told Regan Arlos also of RMN-Iloilo that he invited the drivers of the heavy equipment to snacks and coffee. This, after he was given copies of photos showing the Capitol’s heavy equipment working on his house.

Tupas said the truck team was working on a barangay road adjacent to his house.

Meanwhile, Capitol employees in-charge of dump trucks and heavy equipment have started finger-pointing.

Engr. Efren Datoon, a project engineer of the Provincial Engineer’s Office (PEO), said the green dump trucks in the photographs are indeed owned by the province but these are no longer used.

Datoon said they are now using yellow dump trucks which the provincial government purchased two years ago.

Datoon said he could not recall if they have road maintenance projects in Brgy. Juanico.

It was later learned that the drivers of the green dump trucks were Domingo Ferrolin and Ken Jun Enojas Jr.

Enojas said Engr. Francisco Boy Nobleza, chief of the PEO’s motor pool, ordered them to work on a barangay road in Juanico, 20 to 30 meters from Tupas’ house.

But Enojas could not recall when they were deployed and how long they worked on the said project. He is still looking for the records at the motor pool.

Enojas said the punong barangay of Juanico requested the road project.

But in an interview with Febe Morales of Aksyon Radyo, Nobleza denied Enojas’ claims saying he has no power to deploy trucks and other heavy equipments.

Nobleza said he is only in-charge of repairs and maintenance of these equipments.

Nobleza said provincial engineers assigned to the five congressional districts in Iloilo can order the deployment of heavy equipments.

He added that Dump Trucks Nos. 5 and 11 are detailed to the 5th congressional district which is the jurisdiction of Engr. Ananias Lago.

Nobleza said the trucks are not supposed to be in Banate which is in the 4th congressional district.

Tupas is running for congressman in the 4th district, reason why he transferred his voter’s registration and established a house in Banate.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

DON’T act like clowns.

This was the stern warning of Iloilo City Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog to members of the City Council when they hold their session.

Mabilog was reacting to the verbal tussle between Councilors Eduardo Peñaredondo and Antonio Pesina during their regular session Wednesday at the Iloilo City Terminal Market.

Mabilog said councilors should treat each other with dignity, respect and honor being elected officials of the city.

Mabilog, who was the acting mayor when the “word war” happened, said the presiding officer at that time should have stepped by calling for a recess to diffuse the tension.

“The presiding officer can also ask the sergeant-at-arms to remove the councilors from the session if they continue to harangue each other. Such conduct has no place in the council,” he added.

The presiding officer during the Peñaredondo-Pesina scuffle was Councilor Julienne Baronda.

Baronda banged the gavel to bring order to the session but in vain. Councilor Armand Parcon later called for a recess to diffuse the situation.

Parliamentary rules dictate that council members should address each other as honorable, gentleman or lady.

Councilors are also refrained from confronting each other during debates by directing their questions and comments to the presiding officer.

Mabilog said they sometimes allow intimate or endearing names to each other especially when their mood is light.

But he cautioned councilors to check their conduct during heated debates to avoid insults or confrontations.

‘TONY BOY VS KALBO’

The verbal joust between Peñaredondo, who is the majority floor leader, and the diminutive yet feisty Pesina happened when they discussed two agenda in the session.

The first round was when Councilor Julienne Baronda pushed for a committee investigation on the Metro Iloilo Water District’s operations.

Pesina objected to the idea of referring the matter to the committee on environment as there is no environmental concern in the issue.

Peñaredondo later clarified that Baronda’s proposal will be referred to the committees on environment and utilities.

Pesina also contended that the City Council has no power to penalize or investigate MIWD.

But Peñaredondo retorted that the council has the responsibility to look after public welfare, particularly on the issue of water supply.

The next round was during the deliberation on the amusement tax exemption sought by the Graciano Lopez-Jaena Foundation for its fund-raising activities.

Pesina, who chairs the committee on ways and means, had refused to grant the exemption as the foundation’s activities are not included in categories which the Local Government Code exempts from paying amusement taxes.

During the deliberation, Peñaredondo called Pesina “Tony Boy Pesina,” a label which irked the latter.

Pesina retaliated by calling Peñaredondo “Eduardo ‘Kalbo’ Peñaredondo,” which apparently referred to the latter’s balding top.

The verbal tussle extended to the media when Peñaredondo hit Pesina for being a showboat during the session which Political Science students from the University of Iloilo attended.

Peñaredondo said Pesina has the penchant to show off his debate and lawyerly skills when there are visitors during their session. He said “Tony Boy” is an endearing term which he also used in their previous sessions.

Peñaredondo threatened to knock down Pesina’s teeth and jaw if the latter jaunts his balding head outside the session.

Testingan ni Pesina nga ipanghambal ini sa guwa, kay masintak ang apipingig niya (Let Pesina taunt me outside because I will break his jaw),” Peñaredondo said over Aksyon Radyo.

Peñaredondo also taunted Pesina’s “sub par” performance in the bar exams.

Pesina hit back at Peñaredondo’s habit of butting in during a debate without asking the floor.

Pesina said he indeed called Peñaredondo “kalbo” or bald “but there was no malice in that as I was just telling the truth.”

The pint-sized councilor said Peñaredondo is “a big guy but a coward.”

“I behave during sessions…He likes to brag when there are visitors by disrupting a debate without asking permission from the presiding officer,” Pesina said.

Peñaredondo said he is allowed to interrupt discussions being the majority floor leader.

‘CRUSADING ART’  Iloilo 3rd District Rep. Arthur “Art” Defensor Sr. (center) announces his plan to regain the governor’s office in the 2010 elections during a press conference in Iloilo City Thursday. Behind him are his supporters (from left to right) including his son, Board Member Arthur Defensor Jr., 4th district Rep. Ferj Biron, running mate Board Member Oscar “Richard” Garin Jr., 1st district Rep. Janet Garin, former congressman Licurgo Tirador and Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico. Thirty-two of the 43 municipal mayors support the Defensor-Garin tandem. (Photo by Tara Yap)

‘CRUSADING ART’ Iloilo 3rd District Rep. Arthur “Art” Defensor Sr. (center) announces his plan to regain the governor’s office in the 2010 elections during a press conference in Iloilo City Thursday. Behind him are his supporters (from left to right) including his son, Board Member Arthur Defensor Jr., 4th district Rep. Ferj Biron, running mate Board Member Oscar “Richard” Garin Jr., 1st district Rep. Janet Garin, former congressman Licurgo Tirador and Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico. Thirty-two of the 43 municipal mayors support the Defensor-Garin tandem. (Photo by Tara Yap)

Defensor-Garin tandem vows reforms at provincial gov’t

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

HOUSE Majority Floor Leader Arthur Defensor Sr. wants to restore decency at the Iloilo provincial government and the people’s trust and confidence in government, reason why he wants to return to the capitol.

Defensor proffered this motivation when he formally declared his candidacy for governor in the May 2010 elections at Hotel Del Rio Thursday morning before a big group of local political leaders.

Defensor also introduced his running mate, Board Member Richard Garin, but cut short of their lineup for the provincial board.

Defensor said he is on a “crusade for reform and restoration of the people’s faith and trust in government”.

He said he had no plans to return to the provincial capitol “as I felt I have served the people well with honor and dignity.”

But Defensor said there is a need to “put an end to continuity” and restore honor and dignity in the provincial government.

Apparently, Defensor was making swipes at the present administration of Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. which has been beset by issues of graft and corruption.

Defensor said he is confident to win the 2010 elections with the support of at least 32 mayors, provincial board members and other political behemoths in the province.

He also basked in his alliance with Garin whom he described as an able ally at the Capitol.

“I fell honored and privileged to have Board Member Richard Garin as my vice governor,” Defensor said.

In response, Garin described Defensor’s nine-year stint as governor as “a time of peace, dedicated and fruitful work, recognizance (sic) of responsibilities and honest transactions and liquidations.”

PROGRAMS OF GOVERNMENT

Defensor said his programs will focus on developing additional sources of power, water and environmental protection.

Defensor will also conduct a reevaluation of the province’s health programs and hospitals.   

“We will also craft a comprehensive development plan to keep up with the changing times in our province,” he added.

Garin said one of his thrusts is on agriculture, particularly the establishment of an animal and plant laboratory.

Garin said he is concerned with the lack of facilities that will help Iloilo farmers diagnose animal and plant diseases.

SHOW OF FORCE

The declaration also served as a show of force, a coalition of major political sectors in Iloilo.

Aside from the Garins, who rule the 1st congressional district, Rep. Ferjenel Biron, Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico and former congressman Licurgo Tirador lent support to the Defensor-Garin tandem.

A total of 33 Iloilo mayors have committed to support Defensor’s candidacy even if his chief opponent, Barotac Viejo Mayor Raul Tupas, is the incumbent president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines in Iloilo.

Reportedly, the Syjuco couple – TESDA Director General Augusto and incumbent Rep. Judy – will support the Defensor-Garin tandem despite their falling out with Philippine Coconut Authority Administrator Oscar Garin.

Oscar Garin ran for governor in 2001 against Gov. Tupas but lost.

The Garins attributed the defeat to Augusto Syjuco’s sudden change of heart and turned his support to Tupas.

Another “surprise supporter” in the Defensor-Garin tandem is Board Member Rodolfo “Boy” Cabado who has been identified with the Tupas group.

Cabado said there is nothing shocking in his decision to support Defensor as their friendship goes a long way back when they belonged to the same law office before.

Cabado said Defensor has always been his ally throughout his political career.

Heavy equipment are seen working at the house of Gov. Tupas in Brgy. Juanico, Banate, Iloilo sometime in April 2009

Heavy equipment are seen working at the house of Gov. Tupas in Brgy. Juanico, Banate, Iloilo sometime in April 2009

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Tupas may face graft for misuse of gov’t resources

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILOILO Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr. is facing possible graft charges for misuse of government resources when he allegedly used government-owned heavy equipment to work in the construction of his rest house in Banate, Iloilo.

The latest controversy that Tupas figured in stemmed from video clips and photographs showing two province-owned dump trucks and a grader and bulldozer owned by the Banate municipal government working in Tupas’s house at Brgy. Juanico, Banate.

The said materials showed the trucks dumping filling materials in the work site while the grader and bulldozer were clearing the area.   

The green dump trucks are marked “Province of Iloilo” while the blue grader and bulldozer bear the official seal of the Banate municipal government.

In an interview with Rey Cabarles of RMN-Iloilo last Monday, Tupas said “the truck never got near my house.”

But in his next interview with Regan Arlos also of RMN-Iloilo yesterday, said the heavy equipment passed by his house and he only invited the drivers to have coffee and snacks.

He made this statement after Tupas was shown with copies of pictures of the heavy equipment.

In another interview with Bombo Radyo, Tupas said the heavy equipment were getting quarry materials from a quarry site near his house.

The governor established a house at Brgy. Juanico in preparation for his candidacy for congressman of the Iloilo 4th congressional district opposite incumbent Rep. Ferjenel Biron.

Early this year, Tupas transferred his voter’s registration to Brgy. Juanico.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A GROUP is gathering signatures for a petition that seeks to prod Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas to run for congressman in the 2010 elections.

The signature campaign started September 4, according to a member of the group who sought anonymity for the meantime.

According to the source, they circulated 12 signature folders to each of the 180 barangays in the city. Each folder contains a piece of paper with the heading “Uswag Iloilo! Jerry P. Treñas Congressman Movement.”

The main petition body has the heading “A Petition Urging Mayor Jerry P. Treñas to run for Congressman. The Next Big Thing.”

Each piece of paper can accommodate 60 signatories, which mean each folder can contain a maximum of 180 signatories.

The group expects to gather 5,000 to 10,000 signatures. So far, they have gathered 2,000 signatures even as they eye to reach their target signatures by first week of October.

The source said they circulated the petition forms to common residents, not the barangay officials who are identified with the group of Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul Gonzalez Sr.

Gonzalez’s son and namesake, Raul Jr., still has one three-year term left which he intends to pursue in next year’s elections.

Treñas will graduate as city mayor next year, fueling speculations that he might turn against his political allies.

The Gonzalezes and Treñas belong to the Lakas party.

According to the source, one folder was intercepted by a barangay official, prompting the group to circulate another petition form.

The group said they initiated the signature campaign to convince Treñas to make up his mind and continue his work in the city as congressman.

“When all the folders are filled with signatures, we will submit them to Mayor Treñas to help him decide. Maybe this is the spark that will set his political plans in motion,” the source said.

The group also adopted the popular dance hit “Nobody but you” to stress their advocacy of pushing Treñas to run for congressman.

“For us, Jerry is better than Raul Jr. as congressman that’s why we are mounting this campaign. Nobody came to us, this is our own initiative,” the source said.

Treñas said he has no knowledge about the signature campaign and disowned any link to the group.

When asked if the signature campaign will force him to decide, Treñas’ reply: “Tan-awon ta (We’ll see.)”

Treñas has been elusive with his political plans next year saying he wants to focus on his work as city mayor.

Treñas even jokingly said he might run for president – of the Parents-Teachers Community Association.

Pundits speculate Treñas might be compelled to run as vice mayor in tandem with Raul Sr. who is eyeing the city mayor’s office.

Gonzalez Sr. said he secured a copy of the Treñas for Congressman petition and revealed that Vice Mayor Jed Mabilog, who is said to be eyeing the mayoral post, is behind the campaign.

“This is a move to sow confusion among the people,” Gonzalez Sr. said over Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo.

Gonzalez Sr. said he had a long talk with Treñas over the weekend regarding politics “and we have finalized our plans.” He refused to give details.

Mabilog said Gonzalez Sr. is entitled to his own opinion as regards politics in Iloilo City, adding it is natural for the older Gonzalez to link him to the petition.

Some barangay officials identified with Gonzalez said the group might field a “3J ticket” – Jerry (Treñas) for congressman, Junior (Raul Jr.) for mayor and Joe (Espinosa III) for vice mayor.

Earlier, political pundits said Treñas might ally with Vice Mayor Jed Mabilog who is believed to be eyeing the mayoral post and Julienne “Jam-Jam” Baronda who is being groomed as city vice mayor – another “3J ticket.”

The proposed creation of the second congressional district in Iloilo City was seen as a form of gerrymandering or the creation of another political division to accommodate Treñas and preserve his alliance with the Gonzalezes.

But the proposed redistricting is considered dead after Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III declared that Iloilo City does not meet the required population requirement for the additional congressional district.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Panay Electric Co. (Peco), the sole power distributor in Iloilo City, are preparing contingencies to avoid power outages during the 2010 elections.

This after Department of Energy (DoE) Secretary Angelo Reyes warned last week of nationwide power interruptions next year – a problem that could affect the conduct of the May 2010 automated polls.

Engr. Randy Pastolero, Peco operations manager, said they will finish the construction of a 50MVA power substation in Baldoza, LaPaz.

An electrical substation is a subsidiary station of an electricity generation, transmission and distribution system where voltage is transformed from high to low or the reverse using transformers.

A power substation typically does two or three things:

– It has transformers that step transmission voltages down to distribution voltages;

– It can split the distribution power off in multiple directions.

– It often has circuit breakers and switches so that the substation can be disconnected from the transmission grid or separate distribution lines can be disconnected from the substation when necessary.

The substation also protects the distribution lines from sudden power surges or failures in power plants.

Peco’s new power substation in LaPaz will replace the 15MVA facility which the distribution firm retired recently.

Pastolero said they will also install new feeders around Iloilo City to optimize their distribution system and avoid massive outages. The distribution utility also continues to replace old posts with newer and stronger poles.

The 50MVA substation is also in preparation for the commissioning of the 164-megawatt coal-fired power plant of Global Business Power Corp. (GBPC) in LaPaz.

The new substation is also in anticipation of Peco’s participation in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market.

Pastolero said they are concerned with the looming expiration of Peco’s supply contract with the National Power Corp. (NPC) next year which could result in a 15-megawatt power shortage in the city.

Peco currently draws around 8-9MW from NPC plants in the Visayas grid in keeping with an order of the Energy Regulatory Commission to draw part of its power requirements from other sources.

The distribution utility obtains 72MW from Panay Power Corp., which is operated by GBPC. 

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said they will install generators in voting precincts which can be used in cases of brownouts.

Jimenez said they also used generators for three days when blackouts hit areas of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao where the first automated polls were held two years ago.

POWER CRISIS

Based on the DoE’s Power Supply and Demand report covering 2008 to 2017, the Philippines is staring at challenges in power supply development.

Sec. Reyes said Visayas and Mindanao have been suffering from rotating brownouts, while Luzon would enter a “critical period” next year.

The Luzon grid has been experiencing transmission congestion problems in North Luzon since 2008.

Luzon needs 3,000 megawatts of power during the 10-year period. However, there are only around 600 MW of committed projects and 3,380 MW of indicative projects so far.

The Visayas sub-grids (Cebu-Negros-Panay-Bohol) are still dependent heavily on the interconnection lines to transmit the power generated from the geothermal plants in Leyte.

The Visayas grid reached critical period last year due to a 500MW deficiency. The grid has a required additional capacity of 500 MW for the years 2008-2017.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

IS THE spate of robberies in Western Visayas a preparation for the 2010 elections?

Top police officials believe that robbery groups could be under the direction of some unscrupulous politicians out to raise funds for next year’s elections.

This, as two major robberies happened in Iloilo City and Hinigaran, Negros Occidental in a span of two days since Monday.

Around 10-12 heavily armed men raided the remittance center of Vallacar Transit, operator of Ceres Bus Liner, in Jaro, Iloilo City Monday evening.

The suspects, who were armed with M16 Armalite rifles, machine pistols and handguns, carted away an estimated P300,000 cash and personal belongings of Vallacar employees.

The Jaro police has yet to identify the suspects in the heist.

On Tuesday evening, six suspects attempted to rob almost P12 million from the RCBC Bank branch in the town of Hinigaran, some 60 kilometers south of Bacolod City.

Reports from the Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office said the heist happened 6:45pm when the RCBC Bank on Rizal Street was about to close.

Concerned bystanders reported the incident to the Hinigaran police headed by S/Insp. Sonny Boy Bernus.

Bernus together with PO3 Romelo Gentogao, PO3 Ernel Mudanza, PO1 Lyle Cañazares and PO1 Armar Mariano chased the six suspects who commandeered a tricycle as their getaway vehicle.

A running gunbattle erupted between the police and the suspects, resulting in the death of two robbers. One of the dead suspects was identified as Dennis Española of Brgy. Cansalungon in Isabela town.

Identification cards recovered from Española showed that he is an active member of the CAFGU auxiliary under the 12th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army based in Negros Occidental. The other killed suspect remains unidentified.

The four remaining suspects fled with three RCBC employees whom they used as hostages. The suspects later released the hostages at Brgy. Patique, Hinigaran

At around 11:45am Wednesday, the Hinigaran police and the 613th Provincial Mobile Group arrested suspect Ricky Billiones who is also a CAFGU member from Isabela, Negros Occidental.

The Hinigaran policemen recovered P11,958,000 cash in a sack which the suspects left inside the bank premises. Another P102,000 cash was left behind by the robbers in the tricycle along with the two hostages at Barangay Patique.

A caliber .38 revolver was recovered beside Española’s body. Also recovered were empty shells and live ammunition of caliber .9 mm pistol inside the bank and two magazine assembly of M16 Armalite rifle in the abandoned tricycle, two cellphones and a black shoulder bag allegedly belonging to Española.

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, said he went to Hinigaran to lead the investigation on the RCBC robbery.

Cuevas said he learned that the group in the RCBC heist was also tagged in several robberies in Negros Occidental in 2006, a year before the 2007 national and local elections. 

“It is possible that robbery groups will be used in the coming elections. We are watching out for them in terms of intelligence monitoring to prevent more robberies from happening,” Cuevas said.

Cuevas said he ordered all intelligence units to remain vigilant following the series of robberies in the region. He also ordered all policemen to be on alert so they can respond to any incidents in their area.

“The good thing about the Hinigaran incident is that the police reacted and chased the suspects until some of them were neutralized and arrested. Our personnel should be alert at all times,” he added.

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?

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ARE the Gonzalezes pulling the leg of Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas as regards the proposed redistricting of the city?

Lawyer Daniel Cartagena said Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul Gonzalez Sr. and his son Rep. Raul Jr. might be fooling Treñas when they assured that the city’s redistricting will push through.

The proposed creation of a second legislative district in Iloilo City is an initiative of Rep. Gonzalez.

The measure passed the House of the Representatives but it remains stuck in the Senate committee on local governments chaired by Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III due to legal questions.

Last week, Rep. Gonzalez said the measure is still very much alive even as his father and Treñas continue to negotiate with senators.

Cartagena and other critics see the redistricting bill as a form of gerrymandering to give Treñas his own constituency should he decide to run for congressman.

Treñas will finish his third term as mayor in 2010.

Cartagena said the Gonzalezes’s statements are doubtful because while they assure that the redistricting bill is still alive, they are also preparing for their own political plans.

“Gonzalez Sr. is telling everybody that he is running for mayor while Rep. Gonzalez Jr. will surely run for his third term. That leaves Mayor Treñas out in the cold. Basi gina-intu lang nila si Mayor bala,” Cartagena said.

Cartagena said Sen. Aquino already made up his mind in not taking up the city’s redistricting bill because of legal infirmities.

“Even if the bill passes the Senate, Sen. Aquino said he will question the measure before the Supreme Court,” he added.

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