One Cebu wins round

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Friday, February 4, 2011


THE creation of the National Unity Party (NUP) can be considered the final nail in the coffin of the once formidable Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

It also showed that the Garcias in Cebu province have not stopped finding ways to regain the political advantage they lost at the national level with the loss of Gilberto Teodoro, the Lakas standard-bearer upon whom they hitched their political wagon in the May elections.

The NUP is composed mainly of 32 former Lakas lawmakers who joined the Liberal Party-led coalition that installed Rep. Feliciano Belmonte as House Speaker. Its formation means Lakas is officially 32 lawmakers short of its original strength. The NUP, though, is but one of the three Lakas factions that evolved when Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III became president.

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Cebuano leaders under the One Cebu party are among the leading players in the NUP.

Rep. Pablo Garcia (Cebu Province, second district) was even elected party chairman, although seniority may have been a factor for this considering the older Garcia’s stature.

The other administration-allied Lakas faction is headed by Camarines Sur Rep. Rodolfo Andaya Jr. The rest of the Lakas lawmakers are with the opposition or minority bloc led by the noisy Rep. Edcel Lagman.

Organizational consolidation is an important step in solidifying the clout of a faction. With the NUP, the Garcia-led faction is formally dissociating itself from Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s discredited party while at the same time strengthening its standing within the pro-administration coalition. It is the nature of coalitions that parties have a bigger voice in them.

The presence of the Garcia clan patriarch in the NUP should mean that One Cebu elements are solidly behind the party. Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, for example, is among the nine governors listed as NUP members.

This development should send a message to local LP stalwarts, especially in the province, that they cannot take One Cebu for granted. The 2013 local elections are still more than two years away, but in political terms that is a very short time. That is why it is never too early to start preparing for the polls now.

By leading the formation of the NUP at the national level, One Cebu leaders are negating the only advantage the LP stalwarts in Cebu have over their rivals. I am referring to the LP stalwarts’ identification with the Aquino administration. The administration vs. opposition dynamic has already been demolished at the local level, with the local LP and One Cebu now both allied with the administration.

That is why local LP stalwarts should wake up from their slumber before things will be too late. The lesson of the May elections is too clear to see. Had LP gubernatorial bet Hilario “Junjun” Davide III been backed by a strong organization in the province, the outcome of the May elections would have been different. The LP, therefore, needs to consolidate its forces in the province, and fast.

If this were a boxing match, I would give One Cebu leaders this round. Their political savvy and aggressiveness is obvious. It now looks like it has survived its most trying times caused by the Aquino victory in the May elections. That should be a morale-booster for its forces in the province.

(khanwens@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 05, 2011.

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