The Cebu vote-A A +A
Saturday, January 26, 2013
WITH 2.5 million registered voters (the highest among all provinces in the country), Cebu can very well influence the results of a national election. In 2004, for example, the one million margin that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo enjoyed over the late Fernando Poe Jr. allowed her to eke out a close victory over the latter.
That election was highly controversial because of the reported massive cheating in Mindanao (remember “Hello Garci?”). There were allegations of cheating in Cebu, too, made notably by deposed President Erap Estrada but we all know that Arroyo won here fair and square.
Until now, politicians and writers based in Manila continue to credit the landslide victory of GMA (who showed her gratitude by taking her oath in Cebu) to the family of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia. The claim is only partly correct. Aside from the Garcias, many other Cebuano political leaders–in fact, all Cebuano politicians of consequence–were in Arroyo’s camp that year.
It is even doubtful if any Cebuano politician or, for that matter, if all of them combined can claim to deliver the votes for a presidential candidate here. In the 2010 presidential election, for example, the same people who supported Arroyo six years earlier campaigned for Gibo Teodoro. The only holdouts were 1st Dist. Rep. Eddie Gullas who supported Sen. Manny Villar; Bogo City Mayor Junie Martinez, Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes and Cebu City Mayor Tommy Osmeña who were with Sen. Noynoy Aquino.
Despite that handicap and the Garcias’ vow to make Teodoro win by one million votes, Aquino went on to record another (next to Arroyo’s) landslide victory here. The leaders do not determine the results of a national election here. The Cebuano voters are too independent to be led by the nose by any politician.
I recall all these after reading that the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) is planning to jumpstart, to quote the Daily Inquirer, its senatorial campaign here with a “massive proclamation rally” on Feb. 12. UNA senatorial candidate Migz Zubiri said the choice of Cebu as venue for its opening salvo is meant to show support for an embattled ally, the suspended Cebu governor.
It’s a wise choice, considering our huge voting population. According to former Cebu provincial election supervisor Lionel Castillano, the average voters’ turnout here is 80 percent. If the trend holds, that means 2 million Cebuanos trooping to the polls in May this year. Note that 12 million is said to be the number a senatorial candidate needs to crash into the Magic 12.
There is no word yet from the Liberal Party. If it is also true in politics that the early bird catches the worm, UNA should be able to sew up the Cebu vote by Feb. 12. We, however, tend to overturn all pre-conceived notions when it comes to national elections so it is not safe to draw any conclusion or even make any predictions. Except, of course, that as the election draws near, you can see senatorial wannabes pitching tent in Cebu more often than in any other province in the country.
It’s laudable to show support and concern for Assistant Cebu City Prosecutor Maria Theresa Casiño but couldn’t our colleagues in the legal profession do it quietly and without fanfare? “Nag-mukhang kawawa” was how a non-lawyer friend described to me the situation of John Pope’s only surviving shooting victim as a result of publicized appeals for financial assistance for her and her family.
The appeals as well as those who made them are well-meaning, I am sure. But I agree with the observation that we could provide the necessary assistance without unnecessarily making the recipient look desperate.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 27, 2013.