I chanced upon Atty. Gerry Flores at the MCLE Seminar at Hotel Marut August 22-23, 2013. He smiled as he informed me he had a pending protest fled with the Comelec against his rival in the last elections.
“I shall run again,” he says. “I am keeping in touch with our group to cheer them up. My lost is just a tempory setback. Three years is too short a rest period.”
Flores joined politics after retirement from the Philippine National Police (PNP), his last post being chief of it. He first ran in 1995 for Congress against Oscar Garin Sr. In 1998, he ran for mayor and won in Miagao town, 40 km south of Iloilo City.
After his third and last term as mayor, he ran for, and won, a seat at the Iloilo provincial legislature. He vied for the mayoralty of Miagao in May 2013 but lost to Dr. Nap Napulan, his former colleague at the provincial sanggunian, the second automated elections whose controversy of national scope is perceived to be sharper than in 2010.
Flores’s first term as mayor made Miagao the envy of local governments in Iloilo Province in terms of social services—subsidized public education from the elementary to high school levels, scholarship in college for indigents, free medical services and medicines at its rural health unit, and feeding program for malnourished children.
His wife Juliet continued his initiatives. After her third and last term in May 2013, she ran for congress but did not make it. In her last stint as mayor, Miagao under the female Flores, allotted P5.5 million yearly to send 320 indigent scholars to college chosen from their economic lot, not so much on their academic performance.
All that is being shaken though by the new administration. Mayor Napulan cut down the scholarship fund to accommodate only the top 10 graduates of public high schools regardless of economic status. The scholars under the new system are entitled only to free tuition.
Contrast that under the watch of the Floreses where the scholars, on top of free tuition, also enjoyed allowances for uniforms, transportation and school supplies to include textbooks.
Indigents in the previous dispensation were entitled to free consultation and medicines at the rural health unit (town clinic). Under Napulan, patients are now required to buy their own medicines prescribed by the municipal physician.
Poor residents affected by the constriction of social services are grumbling. This writer is tempted to answer: why did you vote for the other guy, to begin with?
Incidentaly, one saying sprang from the dust of the 2013 elections which says: “Isang balde ka lang!”
“Balde” refers to the blue and green plastic pails distributed to voters in the May 2013 elections in the first district of Iloilo. They contained grocery items and, at the bottom, an envelope containing cash. The donor, the party-list Aambis-OWWA, is a living proof that political dynasties in the Philippines, are further entrenched in defiance of the Constitution that qualifies only the marginalized to run under the party list system reserved by the same Charter to 20 percent of seats at the Lower House.
Aambis-OWWA, founded by Oscar Garin Sr., debuted in the 2010 elections, which his daughter Sharon Garin as first candidate.
The party list gives the Garins two seats at the Lower House – representing Iloilo’s 1st district and the party list.