BY PET MELLIZA/ THE BEEKEEPER
Jaime Esmeralda, vice-mayor of Igbaras did not intend to shock first district LP head Oscar Garin Sr when he refused to file his certificate of candidacy (COC).
When the deadline for the filing came, October 30, 2012, Garin and Mayor Vicente Escorpion panicked seeing the LP slate in Igbaras empty. Garin used his mobile phone and all his power of persuasion to contact prospects to fill the line-up – with mediocre candidates including Eddie Esmero, an incumbent councilor.
Garin bawled at Esmeralda on phone for skirting his COC and for herding his line-up of six councilors to the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) instead of to Escorpion. Esmeralda politely reminded the patriarch to calm down.
UNA-Igbaras line-up is led by Atty. Sherwin Quidato for mayor and Nilo Grasa vice mayor, respectively, the first and second councilors. They have six incumbent councilors for reelection.
Esmeralda, Quidato and Grasa were dislodged from the Liberal Party (LP) last September when higher ups went for Gov. Arthur D. Defensor, Sr. as LP Iloilo standard bearer.
Defensor, formerly a Lakas and House majority floor leader during Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s time, clashes with former ally Rep. Ferjenil Biron (4thh district).
Quidato and Grasa had pledged allegiance to the LP last September at the convention called by former Gov. Niel D. Tupas, Sr., then LP-Iloilo chair. Later that same month, they defected to Biron’s UNA. Their figure head Tupas gave way to Defensor and agreed to run instead for Congress in the fourth district under the LP.
Esmeralda did not renounce his LP membership which Garin might have interpreted to mean he would run under Escorpion.
Garin and Escorpion in the last minute, however, discovered their miscalculation as the LP-Igbaras ticket was empty and all their prospects, including Esmeralda, had migrated to UNA.
Escorpion is a good for nothing local chief executive whose biggest achievements are three non-functional projects: (a) rest room (b) a dug well and (c) road widening.
The rest room inside the covered gym falters with the empty well nearby; it was dug in the rainy season without reaching its true depth in the dry months. Why dig a well when you have gushing pipelines?
The widening, less than a kilometer, only eliminated roadside greeneries thus, aggravating global warming. The expansion, only two inches thick without steel matting, is useless because Escorpion did not relocate obstructing street lamps.
In contrast, for three terms when Esmeralda was mayor (2001 – 2010), Igbaras chalked unprecedented development. Garin opposed his candidacy; nevertheless the young physician won overwhelmingly surpassing the combined votes of all three opponents.
Others fear Garin, known for blackmailing opponents by denying them “projects” from his pork barrel. But Esmeralda was unbothered by that. In his first term (2001 – 2004), he had all the roads in the poblacion concreted by administration, that is, by local government not private contractors. Under Esmeralda, Igbaras for the first time had functioning heavy equipment – two dump trucks, a loader and a grader – aside from the garbage truck. Esmeralda did that through self reliance, without Garin.
Igbaras, a mountain town 40 kilometers south of Iloilo, established a farmers’ “bagsakan” (auction), screening facilities for dengue, TB and diabetes. Igbarasnons no longer have to go to Iloilo City to check up for these deadly diseases.
Esmeralda, bequeathed to Escorpion, a lawyer, a new public market, more modern and hygienic than those of Iloilo City, and a water system which again shames Iloilo City. Pressure of the Igbaras Water District is so strong that it bursts pipe joints. Consumers refill elevated storage sans motor pumps; they simply open the pipe.
Escorpion flunks against Esmeralda’s track record.