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Tong-Tong will return with vengeance


By Pet Melliza/ The Beekeeper

Rep. Jerry Trenas (lone district, Iloilo City) is a genius political strategist, if we recalled how he perfectly executed his plot of dislodging his erstwhile ally Erwin “Tong-Tong” Plagata from the vice-mayoral race.

Tong-Tong was a rising political star then as member of the Iloilo City council. Aside from his regular work as councilor (2001 – 2010), he still ran extra miles holding free clinics for indigents, particularly, free circumcision to children. That boosted his popularity so that in the 2007 elections, he topped the race to the city legislature.

The law disqualified Tong-Tong from running for a fourth straight term nevertheless, given his popularity, he stood to have good chance of clinching a higher position in the 2010 elections.

He appeared to have enjoyed the confidence of then Mayor Jerry Trenas who handpicked him to head the task force of managing the messy traffic situation in the city. The mayor gave him the marching order of disciplining drivers including those of pedicabs or “sikad”.

Little did Tong-Tong knew that what Trenas gave him was nothing but a Trojan Horse, hearkening back to the yonder era of the Trojan War, where the Greeks sneaked into the city of Troy inside a wooden horse that the invaders gave to the Trojans as a “gift”. The position as traffic czar unreeled Tong-Tong’s political downfall. In other words, Trenas tricked Tong-Tong and the latter realized that already too late.

We thought that the Jerry – Tong-Tong political alliance was unbreakable, with the mayor grooming the latter for the vice-mayoral position. The future appeared bright for Tong-Tong.

But that did not happen. By election season, Tong-Tong was already shorn of political luster. He was already doomed even before he filed his certificate of candidacy. He was a hated man for jeepney and sikad drivers. With that, Trenas, successfully paved the road to the vice-mayoralty for his “bilas” or brother-in-law, Joe Espinosa III.

The step that did Tong-Tong in was when he followed Trenas’s order to clamp down hard on sikad drivers 10 months to the May 2010 elections. Those plying national roads and off route or without plate numbers were summarily punished by seizure of their pedicabs. The hapless owners whose hand-to-mouth subsistence was disrupted, had to cough up P200 to claim back their contrivances impounded at the district PNP stations.

The sikads were initially impounded at the five district stations for at least a day, after which they were remitted to the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) at the front of the University of San Agustin.

Those were trying months for sikad drivers who missed their average income of P170 per day, a measly amount might be but was badly welcomed to stretch the family’s struggle for survival. Their average daily take home earning even insufficient to pay the fine of P200 for the traffic violation.

The drivers faced the worse fate if they failed to pay the fine within one day because their sikads would be remitted to the ICPO where tires were deflated and some parts missing. They had to cough up additional cash transporting their contrivances to their homes due to the ban on the sikads in national roads.

Losing their sikad for days also meant missing their income for the same period and the sikad drivers vowed to dump Tong-Tong that they did in the next poll.

Trenas ditched Tong-Tong in favor of Joe Espinosa III the victor and now, the incumbent vice mayor of Iloilo City.

xxx

The 2013 elections looms and the grapevine says Tong-Tong is now reconditioning his political machinery to launch a come back to the city council. He has already gotten over the betrayal by Trenas but he will be joining the opposition ticket.

There’s still one unresolved issue though confronting Tong-Tong. He still needs to mend fences with the jeepney and sikad drivers. The clamp down is still fresh in the memory of the sikads and their resentment still simmers. It will not be easy for Tong-Tong, or anybody for that matter, to show contrition to regain their friendship.

Watch out, Trenas: Tong-Tong will return to the political arena with vengeance.
Rep. Jerry Trenas (lone district, Iloilo City) is a genius political strategist, if we recalled how he perfectly executed his plot of dislodging his erstwhile ally Erwin “Tong-Tong” Plagata from the vice-mayoral race.

Tong-Tong was a rising political star then as member of the Iloilo City council. Aside from his regular work as councilor (2001 – 2010), he still ran extra miles holding free clinics for indigents, particularly, free circumcision to children. That boosted his popularity so that in the 2007 elections, he topped the race to the city legislature.

The law disqualified Tong-Tong from running for a fourth straight term nevertheless, given his popularity, he stood to have good chance of clinching a higher position in the 2010 elections.

He appeared to have enjoyed the confidence of then Mayor Jerry Trenas who handpicked him to head the task force of managing the messy traffic situation in the city. The mayor gave him the marching order of disciplining drivers including those of pedicabs or “sikad”.

Little did Tong-Tong knew that what Trenas gave him was nothing but a Trojan Horse, hearkening back to the yonder era of the Trojan War, where the Greeks sneaked into the city of Troy inside a wooden horse that the invaders gave to the Trojans as a “gift”. The position as traffic czar unreeled Tong-Tong’s political downfall. In other words, Trenas tricked Tong-Tong and the latter realized that already too late.

We thought that the Jerry – Tong-Tong political alliance was unbreakable, with the mayor grooming the latter for the vice-mayoral position. The future appeared bright for Tong-Tong.

But that did not happen. By election season, Tong-Tong was already shorn of political luster. He was already doomed even before he filed his certificate of candidacy. He was a hated man for jeepney and sikad drivers. With that, Trenas, successfully paved the road to the vice-mayoralty for his “bilas” or brother-in-law, Joe Espinosa III.

The step that did Tong-Tong in was when he followed Trenas’s order to clamp down hard on sikad drivers 10 months to the May 2010 elections. Those plying national roads and off route or without plate numbers were summarily punished by seizure of their pedicabs. The hapless owners whose hand-to-mouth subsistence was disrupted, had to cough up P200 to claim back their contrivances impounded at the district PNP stations.

The sikads were initially impounded at the five district stations for at least a day, after which they were remitted to the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) at the front of the University of San Agustin.

Those were trying months for sikad drivers who missed their average income of P170 per day, a measly amount might be but was badly welcomed to stretch the family’s struggle for survival. Their average daily take home earning even insufficient to pay the fine of P200 for the traffic violation.

The drivers faced the worse fate if they failed to pay the fine within one day because their sikads would be remitted to the ICPO where tires were deflated and some parts missing. They had to cough up additional cash transporting their contrivances to their homes due to the ban on the sikads in national roads.

Losing their sikad for days also meant missing their income for the same period and the sikad drivers vowed to dump Tong-Tong that they did in the next poll.

Trenas ditched Tong-Tong in favor of Joe Espinosa III the victor and now, the incumbent vice mayor of Iloilo City.

xxx

The 2013 elections looms and the grapevine says Tong-Tong is now reconditioning his political machinery to launch a come back to the city council. He has already gotten over the betrayal by Trenas but he will be joining the opposition ticket.

There’s still one unresolved issue though confronting Tong-Tong. He still needs to mend fences with the jeepney and sikad drivers. The clamp down is still fresh in the memory of the sikads and their resentment still simmers. It will not be easy for Tong-Tong, or anybody for that matter, to show contrition to regain their friendship.

Watch out, Trenas: Tong-Tong will return to the political arena with vengeance.

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