CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña will actively campaign against vote buying now that the local opposition announced its coalition with Nacionalista Party (NP) standard bearer Sen. Manuel Villar.
Osmeña said that he will train the voters at the sitio level and make them aware of what the opposition might do, given the multi-million campaign funds that Villar is expected to pour in the city.
He earlier said that he heard reporters that the Garcias asked P68 million from Villar for the campaign in the city alone, which the opposition Kugi Uswag Sugbo’s (Kusug) spokesperson, lawyer Raymong Garcia, previously denied.
In his news conference yesterday, Osmeña said, though, that he would understand if the voters would accept money from Kusug and other opposition candidates, as some of them might need the money.
“Thats why, for my part, I’d just like to say congratulations. I think they’ll make the Cebuanos here in Cebu City happy, but we’ll have to train them. We will go to the barangays... we’ll train them to say ‘Guardo, I love you, how much? Garcia, I love you, how much? That will be the new novena that we will be training them,” he told reporters yesterday.
From the start, Osmeña said, the opposition’s statements have been based on money, and have been negotiating with possible supporters and allies with money as consideration.
Kusug standard bearer and former mayor Alvin Garcia and his son Raymond said the other day that they have already “agreed in principle” with Villar to coalesce for the May 10 election.
“It’s a matter of agreeing in principal, not principle. That’s a capital P with two stripes below... Sige na lang, at least naay thrilling ba,” Osmeña added.
When sought for comment on the mayor’s statement, businessman Jonathan Guardo said the mayor should listen to his self.
Guardo will face the mayor in the south district congressional race.
“Look who’s talking. It’s he who has been buying the votes of senior citizens, high school graduates, disabled, and now the different clans in the south. Atong koprason ang kwarta ni Tomas,” said Guardo, referring to the cash assistance that the mayor has been giving the different sectors.
He also asked why the mayor has been making an issue of the P68 million that the opposition supposedly asked of Villar.
“I don’t understand why Tomas is making so much fuss about Villar. He’s insecure that Noynoy is sliding down in the surveys. Nganong sige man siya’g hisgot anang P68 million?
Abi ba nako’g daghan siya’g kwarta (Why does he keep bringing the P68 million issue up? I thought he has a lot of money?)” added Guardo.
Meanwhile, Rep. Pablo John Garcia (Cebu, 3rd district) denied being consulted about Kugi Uswag Sugbo’s (Kusug) planned endorsement of presidential bet Sen. Manuel Villar.
“Personally, I have not been consulted. I have not talked to any Kusug party official or member,” Pablo John told Sun.Star Cebu yesterday.
Atty. Raymond Garcia, Kusug spokesperson and candidate for city councilor, said the Garcias want to decide as a clan to support one presidential candidate.
Pablo John said that it would be ideal but said that One Cebu already made a stand to support former defense secretary Gilbert Teodoro.
“All things are capable of changing. Elections is a long way to go. The fact is, One Cebu, in December, announced its choice for president,” Pablo John said.
However, he said that former mayor Alvin Garcia, Kusug’s candidate for mayor, was already leaning towards supporting Villar even before the filing of certificates of candidacy.
But late last year, Pablo John said Alvin and Kusug were inclined to support whoever One Cebu endorses.
Raymond admitted that Teodoro was initially considered because of his ties with Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia.
Raymond said that the plan was for the Garcia clan to support one presidential bet, except for the governor, who already promised to support to Teodoro.
Raymond said the Garcias who were consulted were Pablo John, Nelson (Dumanjug mayoral bet), Marlon (Barili vice mayoral bet) and Winston, president and general manager of the Government Service Insurance System.
But Pablo John said that he has not talked to Raymond in two months.
Sun.Star Cebu tried but failed to contact Pablo yesterday.
One Cebu Spokesperson Rory Jon Sepulveda, for his part, said he doesn’t know about reports that Winston has been in talks with Villr.
“I can’t speak on behalf of my friend and former boss Winston Garcia,” he said.