ILOILO City – Citing “loss of control and confidence”, majority of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) members stripped councilors Eduardo Peñaredondo and R Leone Gerochi of their committee chairmanships.
Peñaredondo, also the majority floor leader, and Gerochi, the assistant floor leader, are key allies of Mayor Jose Espinosa III. The former is seeking reelection while the latter is Espinosa’s running mate for vice mayor in the 2019 midterm elections.
“We, the undersigned of the SP comprising the majority, have lost our control and confidence to the leadership of the incumbent sitting and current majority floor leader and assistant, and likewise their ability to lead and chair their respective significant and vital committees,” part of the SP resolution read.
Of the eight councilors who voted oust Peñaredondo and Gerochi, six were allies of Cong. Jerry Treñas who is running for mayor against Espinosa.
Interestingly, the resolution was sponsored by opposition councilor Plaridel Nava who is not an ally of Treñas, and backed by another opposition SP member, Joshua Alim.
The six Treñas SP allies were councilors Jose Efrain Treñas, Lady Julie Grace Baronda, Ely Estante, Armand Parcon, ex-officio member Maria Irene Ong, and Sangguniang Kabataan city federation president Leila Luntao.
Aside from being booted out as majority floor leader, Peñaredondo was also removed as chairman of the following committees: rules, energy and public utilities; appropriations; urban planning, housing, and land development, zoning, expropriation, assessment and land acquisitions.
Gerochi, on the other hand, was removed as assistant floor leader and as chairman of the committee on transportation, energy and public utilities.
Those who sided with Peñaredondo and Gerochi were councilors Leizl Joy Zulueta, Candice Magdalene Tupas and Lyndon Acap, all reelectionists. Last week, these councilors took their oath as new members of Nacionalista Party, the political party of Espinosa.
“We feel there is a need to free these significant and vital committees from any form of political influence, pressure and consideration and importantly, we need to institute reforms and positive innovations within the committee level, and thus, the reorganization is imperative, pressing and practicable to ensure the effectively delivery of public service to our constituents without regard to self-serving interests and political color,” read part of the SP resolution.
Nava was elected as new majority floor leader. He was also voted to chair the committees on appropriations; rules, energy and public utilities; and transportation, energy and public utilities.
Baronda was elected the new assistant floor leader while Treñas was made the chairman of the committee on urban planning, housing, and land development, zoning, expropriation, and assessment.
Nava insisted, however, that the ouster of Peñaredondo and Gerochi had nothing to do with Treñas or Espinosa but about upholding the independence and the integrity of the city council.
Peñaredondo and Gerochi said they were not surprised, citing political dynamics in the SP.
Acknowledging his colleagues’ “loss of trust” in him, Gerochi also said he deemed it wise to give up two other committees – public services, environmental protection and ecology; and good government and public accountability (Blue Ribbon).
“Amo gid man ‘na, pulitika gid man. Bisan layo pa ang election, it is still politics,” he said.
Peñaredondo, on the other hand, said he had no ill-feelings toward fellow councilors who voted him out.
“That is democracy in action. Of course we cannot deny the fact that there is some kind of probably (working) alliance between this group (Nava and Alim) and that of Jerry Treñas” said Peñaredondo.
“Who can imagine there will be some kind of alliance between the Nava-Alim group and Treñas’ group? That’s unimaginable. But you know in politics, things happen,” said Peñaredondo.
Nava and Alim were fierce critics of Treñas./P