ILOILO CITY – Iloilo Gov. Arthur D. Defensor, Sr. is not entirely smiling after his ward clinched the presidency of the Philippine Councilors’ League (PCL) – Iloilo Chapter August 13 at a sea-side restaurant here.
He sounds like having been stabbed in the back by one who has broken a pact after the May 2013 polls where the victorious provincial LP members agreed on who picks the head of the PCL, Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), Liga ng Barangay and League of Municipalities.
“I am not commenting any further but what transpired showed it’s money politics again at work here,” gripes the governor.
Accordingly, the prerogative to pick the PCL president goes to Defensor, the SK to 2nd district Rep. Arcadio Gorriceta, the Liga to Vice Gov. Raul Tupas (5th district), and the League to first district patriarch Oscar Garin Sr.
Defensor expected an overwhelming victory for his ward, Kgd. Paul Parian of Januiay town and expressed surprise “he only won by a hairline.”
Parian, ahead of PCL-Iloilo interim president Paolo Guanco of Pototan town by only three votes, will sit as ex-officio member of the provincial legislature, further consolidating Defensor’s hold in the policy making body that also holds the purse strings.
By “money politics” Defensor could be referring to the practice of buying votes. RMN radio reported that aside from P3,000 price for each councilor, the losing camp further treated followers to “housing”, the local lingo for herding voters in a restaurant and treating them overnight to free flowing food and drinks.
The broadcast outfit, quoting unnamed councilors, identified Guanco’s financial backers to be former Rep. Ferjenil Biron (4th district) and Garin, a former member of Congress and still political patriarch of Iloilo’s 1st district (Oton, Tigbauan, Guimbal, Igbaras, Tubungan, Miag-ao and San Joaquin towns).
Defensor hinted he knew that all along by pelting out a one-line: “Salamat kay Congressman (Arcadio) Gorriceta kag kay Congressman Jun-jun Tupas sa ila nga suporta (Thanks to Rep. Gorriceta and Rep. Jun-jun Tupas for their support).”
His objects of gratitude are from the second district (San Miguel, Pavia, Zarraga, Leganes, Leon, Alimodian, Sta. Barbara and New Lucena), and the fifth (Barotac Viejo, San Rafael, Lemery, Ajuy, Sara, Batad, Estancia, Balasan, Concepcion and Carles).
He did not mention his junior, a representative to the Lower House for their bailiwick third district (Cabatuan, Maasin, Januiay, Lambunao, Calinog, Badiangan, Bingawan, Pototan and Mina).
He did not thank which is expected anyway, Rep. Jun-jun Biron (4th district: Barotac Nuevo, Dumangas, Anilao, Banate, Passi City, Dingle, Duenas, and San Enrique), sibling of Ferjenil, Defensor’s rival in the 2013 elections.
Defensor skirting Rep. Oscar Garin Jr. (1st district), an ally, is a loaded statement.
The Garins father and son though deny supporting Guanco.
The ruling Liberal Party had welded together the Defensor, Garin, and Tupas families in an alliance against Biron and the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) in the last polls.
That alliance shows cracks in the PCL elections. Garin has mended fences with Biron, a ploy seen to step up his bid for governor come 2016, incidentally, the post that the Tupases (either former governor Niel D. Tupas Sr., and son, Vice Gov. Raul Tupas) also eye.
The patriarch Garin collided with and lost to elder Tupas in 2004. The younger Tupas ran against Defensor in 2010.
With public speculation on the governor’s health, coffee shops say it would be Garin versus Tupas in 2016. Defensor is retiring but his support will tilt the political balance.
Defensor’s junior ends his term as member of Congress by that year and will run for vice governor. His option for ally will tell the success of the standard bearer: Garin or Tupas?
But with what the Garins have just done leads us to the Kinaray-a maxim: “Bukon takon ti madinumtanon, indi lang takon gakaliga. (I am not vindictive, I just can’t forget).”