By Pet Melliza/ The Beekeeper
The political dusts still siwrl after a gust swept the Liberal Party (LP) landscape in Iloilo.
The LP hierarchy has unleashed a shakedown, defying in effect expectations from the ground by letting in a band of strangers to take over the helms of the LP from local members effective September 27. The gamble has predictable outcome: several key LP loyalists drastically bolting over to the other fence.
Iloilo SP Gerry Flores, erstwhile LP 1st district chair, did not have second thought after learning that the LP hierarchy dumped former Gov. Niel D. Tupas, Sr., a party member for 47 years in favor of incumbent Gov. Arthur D. Defensor, Sr.
Holding the reign of the district now is Oscar Garin who has earned the reputation over the years of crashing into the gates of whatever parties in power for convenience and personal survival.
Flores tagged along with him the LP district members to thefence of Rep. Ferjenil Biron (4th district), standard bearer of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) in Iloilo for governor.
In Flores’s neighboring town Igbaras, Tupas had groomed Vice Mayor Jaime Esmeralda LP bet for 2013. With the drastic change swirling over this mountain town, 40 kilometers south of Iloilo, a newcomer suddenly popped up as LP municipal chair and standard bearer, incumbent Mayor Vicente Escorpion.
Escorpion has been holding on to Defensor’s political apron since 2010. The latter ran in 2010 under Lakas-CMD coalition of then Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
With Escorpion becoming instant LP, Esmeralda’s path narrowed, that is, he has no other option but join Biron’s UNA. However, he now prefers to work backstage as campaigner, instead of disturbing the already complete line-up for the local UNA which has councilor Sherwin Quidato as standard bearer and councilor Nilo Grasa as running mate.
Esmeralda concedes he has been overtaken by events. Escorpion, too, has been caught by surprised because the shakedown has the entire municipal council bolting over to UNA under Quidato. The incumbent mayor has to content himself with unknown wannabees for vice mayor and councilors after the challenger’s slate attracted all incumbent councilors.
Other than that, there are no other visible movement orexodus in the other four congressional districts of Iloilo. The fifth district has some pro-Tupas politicians changing coats to UNA.
Otherwise, it’s the pro-Defensor stalwarts like SP Jett Rojas of Ajuy and Mayor Mariano Malones of Maasin who jumped ship into the UNA political shore.
One tidbit that amuses though is the effect of the “rigodon” on our good friends Kamlon and Ibrahim, anchors of “Ukay-Ukay”, a Sunday noon radio block time on Aksyon Radyo.
The block time has been pro-Tupas throughout and had Defensor as pet peeve. No broadcast time passed without the two pitching brickbats on the governer.
However, since the declaration of the merging of the Defensor, Tupas and Garin political aggrupations last September 27, Ibrahim and Kamlon suddenly lost their tongues as far as needling the butt of Defensor was concerned. They focused their show preening Tupas sans mentioning the incumbent’s name either in praise or curse.
When Tupas asked them: “dayawa man ninyo si Arthur sa programa (praise also Arthur Defensor in your show)”, the duo responded with a smirk. The pair is yet to obliged positively to the former governor’s request.
Ibrahim explains they just cannot stomach the request. “Pila na ka tuig nga ginahiritan namon si Tura tapos gulpi lang kami magdayaw sa iya? Kami kadlawan sini sg mga tawo (For years we have been hitting Arthur Defensor, and now we are being asked to praise him? We are only inviting public ridicule here)”, he snaps. Yesterday (Sunday October 7), yours truly monitored Ukay-Ukay. Kamlon and Ibrahim tackled other topics and personalities like Rep. Salvador “Kiting” Cabaluna (1-CARE Partylist) who was rooting for Iloilo’s 2nd congressional district.
They hailed Cabaluna as the “solution” to the dilemna on who to vote, because the other candidates, UNA’s Augusto Syjuco, the incumbent, or Pavia Mayor Arcadio Gorriceta, “are both corrupt”.
The two no longer rib Defensor with unsavory commentaries but they do not praise him either. “That’s the best we could do: no hitting of Defensor but no praising of him either”, explains Ibrahim.