MANDAUE City Mayor Jonas Cortes said he remains firmly behind the Liberal Party’s candidates for president and vice president, amid reports he has shifted to the administration party and gained One Cebu’s support.

However, he thanked Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia for “taking a stand against dirty politics.”

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He referred to One Cebu’s decision to withdraw its support for his rival mayoral candidate, Rep. Nerissa Soon-Ruiz, after the latter junked presidential candidate Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. for Sen. Manuel “Manny” Villar of the Nacionalista Party.

Cortes recalled that Soon-Ruiz promised last year to help deliver to Teodoro the same vote margin that President Gloria Arroyo won in Cebu in 2004.

“Dayon nagsugod pa lang ang kampanya, nibalitok dayon (The official campaign has just started, and she has already flipped),” said Cortes.

Soon-Ruiz and the entire Nagkahiusang Mandauehanon slate have resigned from both Lakas-Kampi and One Cebu, following their decision to support Villar. They are running against the Cortes-led Team Mandaue/Liberal Party.

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A third candidate for mayor is Eugenio Ruiz from Barangay Centro, who is running as an independent bet.

Asked about One Cebu’s decision to drop Soon-Ruiz and her slate, despite their pledges of support, the Ruiz camp said: “We respect the decision of the governor. We hope we can leave this behind us as we look forward to a full-blast campaign after Holy Week.”

Recent party developments have placed some candidates in an awkward position, like Provincial Board (PB) Member Wenceslao Gakit, who belongs to both Nagkahiusang Mandauehanon and One Cebu.

Gakit, who recently said he will take orders from the governor, said he will soon decide where to stay, now that One Cebu and Nagkahiusa have parted ways. He also defended his presence in recent activities with Cortes, saying these were official functions he had to participate in.

Also yesterday, Rep. Pablo John Garcia (Cebu Province, 3rd district) said there’s no truth to reports that Governor Garcia met with Mayor Cortes at her residence.

The secretary-general of One Cebu said he believes the rumor started with Soon-Ruiz’s camp, to soften the impact of her decision to drop Teodoro.

One Cebu spokesperson Rory Jon Sepulveda refused to confirm or deny the report. “No comment. Lenten season ban on partisan political activities,” he said.