MANILA -- Presidential aspirant Gilberto Teodoro Jr. received an assurance Friday night that his allies in One Cebu remain behind him, although a top party official admitted one candidate may shift alliances.

“Sa politika, maraming developments, maraming kalaban, maraming chismis. But galing na sa ating gobernador (In politics, there are many developments, rivals and rumors. But this reassurance comes from the governor herself),” said Teodoro, when asked to comment on reports of a recent meeting between some One Cebu officials and the Nacionalista Party’s (NP) Manuel Villar.

After a closed-door meeting Friday night in Argao, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said those who cannot agree with the party’s choices “can make their dishonorable exit.”

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“Perhaps there might be one whose conscience is now bothered,” she said, without giving details away.

One Cebu is also expected to reveal Saturday night its choices for vice president and the 12 Senate seats being contested in the May 10 elections.

Representative Nerissa Soon-Ruiz, whose absence from the One Cebu caravan Friday did not go unnoticed, is “in the process of consultations” and will make an announcement on Sunday, her chief of staff said.

She was among the One Cebu allies reported to have met with Villar last Wednesday. She spent most of Friday in Mandaue, where she is running for mayor.

As the campaign officially started, a leader of the Cebu Archdiocese reminded candidates and their supporters to stay calm. But police officials said they barely felt the start of the campaign period Friday, and the situation remained peaceful throughout Cebu even if the campaign heated up.

In Mandaue City, Liberal Party (LP) candidates promised not to abandon Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III or jump to Villar’s NP, which has spent the most of all national parties so far.

The start of the local campaign also triggered a ban on the hiring or promotion of government employees and the construction of new public works projects.

A church official reminded priests to stay non-partisan, and appealed to candidates to refrain from mudslinging, monitor the way their campaign is conducted and avoid violence.

“We expect that they will be honest with one another in the long duration of the campaign,” said Msgr. Esteban Binghay.

“Kung gusto mo og laban, kanang sa tinarong nga pamaagi (Keep the fight honorable). No need to kill each other for one’s candidates. Kalma lang (Stay calm),” Binghay advised supporters.

Fortunately, politicians in this city are not known for violence, said Superintendent Pablo Labra II, deputy director for operations.

“Ang mga pulitiko diri, kutob lang sa pagbuhi ug mga pulong ug dili man moabot sa kagubot (They’re all rhetoric here, and the campaign never escalates to violence),” he said.

Part of their security plan for the elections is to monitor the activities of political parties.

Acting Cebu Provincial Police Chief Erson Digal said that as of Friday afternoon, he didn’t receive any negative report from chiefs of police, who he instructed to submit situation reports about campaign activities in their jurisdiction.

He also instructed them to conduct patrols in areas where campaign rallies are taking place.

In the south, the fact that two mayoral candidates both allied themselves with One Cebu did not seem to heighten the tension, so far.

One Cebu, 2 bets

In Dalaguete, Governor Garcia and her running mate, Glenn Soco, raised the hands of both mayoral candidates Andrade Alcantara, the incumbent, and Ronald Allan Cesante, the vice mayor.

Both slates wore One Cebu vests. There was no violence or taunting from either camp. It was the second time during the One Cebu caravan, which focused on the second district’s 15 towns, that the party endorsed two mayoral candidates.

The first time it happened was in Alegria, where both Emelita Guisadio, wife of incumbent Mayor Raul Guisadio, and Verna Magallon have allied themselves with the administration. (Guisadio’s certificate of candidacy was signed by Lakas-Kampi, while Magallon’s was signed by One Cebu.)

Most of the second district’s 15 towns reiterated their support for Teodoro but not in Dumanjug town, where Mayor Cesar Baricuatro is supporting Villar.

Baricuatro welcomed the One Cebu slate in the town hall, though, although his son Christopher is running for vice mayor under the NP.

While One Cebu went to the south, the Liberal Party began its official local campaign in Mandaue City, with a mass and a press conference.

The candidates disagreed with Representative Eduardo Gullas that Cebu will deliver the presidency to Villar.

Reelectionist Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes said they felt sorry for Governor Garcia and One Cebu after Soon-Ruiz admitted in a local daily that she is in “exploratory talks” with Villar.

“That’s a sign of disrespect to the governor, being the head of One Cebu,” he told Sun.Star Cebu. He said despite perceptions the Villar camp is much better-oiled and commands vaster resources, the Liberal Party’s members will “swim together.”

In separate masses at 9 a.m. in Mandaue City to mark the start of the official campaign, the priests appealed for unity.

The National Shrine of St. Joseph in Mandaue accommodated both allies of One Cebu/Lakas-Kampi and the Liberal Party.

Fr. Randy Nebria called for “unity among all who will serve the people.” In the San Roque Parish in Subangdaku, Fr. Rollin Vics said that without unity, peace and progress will stay beyond the voters’ reach. (With MEA/JKV/RSA/OCP/Sun.Star Cebu)