No panic in PJ, One Cebu-A A +A
Saturday, October 13, 2012
I WENT to the Capitol the other day to honor an invitation to the governor’s birthday celebration but stayed only up to the mass that was said by Msgr. Boy Alesna and Fr. Dan de los Angeles. It was Gwen Garcia’s last birthday celebration as governor. Although perhaps unintended, it was also a show of force by One Cebu.
The Garcias are supposed to be the underdogs in next year’s elections, particularly Pablo John, who, everybody has been saying, is facing an uphill battle against the Liberal Party’s Hilario “Junjun” Davide III. Friday was the first time I’ve observed PJ and his team at close range since his candidacy was announced and I can tell you there is no panic, no, not even a sense of fear, in them.
There is basis for the quiet confidence. Although the elections are a good six months away, it seems that the Garcias have seen the worst behind them, surviving the loss of Nito Durano and Bakud and the defection of key leaders in the 2nd district to the LP. Eddie Gullas and his mayors in the 1st district have re-affirmed their loyalty to their alliance with One Cebu; Benhur Salimbangon remains a source of strength in the 4th; and in the 5th, new allies have been found to fill the vacuum left by Nito’s side of the Duranos.
Davide has his work cut for him. Although the LP has repeatedly denied that Cebu will be declared a free zone (the latest to issue a clarification was Presidential Political Adviser Ronald Lllamas, who in a statement e-mailed to this writer by his political officer, Mark Chang, denied that he ever said that Cebu is a free zone), Junjun cannot rely solely on the Noynoy magic to carry him to victory.
While the President has pledged to campaign for him and the entire LP slate in Cebu, Davide has to do his part especially in strengthening his organization. That the LP, despite being the party in power, has been unable to field candidates in a number of towns must be a cause for concern to the party. The defection from One Cebu has not been as massive as the LP may have expected and as party provincial chairman, Junjun is faced with the challenge of finding the right key leaders in the towns.
Junjun was a newcomer to provincial politics in 2010 when he ran for governor for the first time. His campaign was hobbled by the lack of time, resources and organization. But he surprised everyone by putting up a strong challenge to Garcia. This time, he is supposed to be the frontrunner because he has PNoy behind him. PJ has, however, proven to be the tireless campaigner and may have evened the odds if he hasn’t forged ahead yet.
It’s still a long race but in order to win it, one has to move.
I went to the governor’s birthday celebration straight from a breakfast meeting with administration senatorial candidate Risa Hontiveros. She missed a Senate seat on her first run by a few hundred thousand votes. If only I had more time to campaign, she mused last Friday.
She has enough time now and it would be very unfortunate not only for her but for the country if she still (knock on wood) doesn’t make it. Her only weakness, if you can call it that, is that she is perceived to be leftist, which is rather ironic since the extreme Left has been attacking her and her colleagues in Akbayan relentlessly.
Risa is in my list of favorite senatorial candidates, topping it with Koko Pimentel. We need patriots like Hontiveros and Pimentel in the Senate.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 14, 2012.