PEOPLE POWWOW | The unpredictable Iloilo City politics

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

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ON THE day Panay News broke the news that Councilor Jeffrey Ganzon had met with President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte in Davao City, inquisitive readers either called or posted text messages asking, “How true?”

Yes, the Iloilo councilor confirmed that Duterte had appointed him “point man”. As to what’s the point, it remains to be seen.  The dictionary vaguely defines “point man” as “someone with a very important job or a lot of responsibility for a particular subject in a company or organization.”

Judging from that news report, Ganzon looms as the politician whom Duterte had chosen to organize the Iloilo City ticket of the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) for election year 2019, with Ganzon himself as its most likely candidate for mayor. 

We’ve heard other interpretations on how Ganzon would play “point man”. Over coffee at Hotel del Rio the other day, a canvas painter viewed the Duterte-Ganzon meeting as the President’s “first step in ending the dominance of his political adversaries in the region.”

A lawyer begged to disagree, believing that “Digong just wanted to elicit information from Jeffrey. He could have asked him for whatever he knew about the Iloilo City mayor’s involvement in the illegal drug trade.”  It is no secret that the President is prejudiced against Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, whom he had publicly humiliated six times in as many forums for being “protector” of the late suspected drug lord Melvin “Boyet” Odicta.

Still it would be un-Christian and demeaning for Ganzon – a theology student – to rat on Mabilog, to whom he owes a debt of gratitude.  Remember, after losing as opposition candidate for vice mayor in 2013, Ganzon jumped to the Mabilog bandwagon (Liberal Party), ran and won for councilor in 2016.

Indeed, if only because of that favor he owes Mabilog, Jeffrey Ganzon would have to take the former with him into the PDP-Laban camp. Having Mabilog there, however, would be next to impossible because the President had already rejected previous attempts by other emissaries to patch up the two.

Duterte’s animosity against the mayor might have begun on the night he was not allowed to use Freedom Grandstand for his political rally, forcing him to go to La Paz plaza instead. Worse, Duterte lost in Iloilo, far behind front-runner Mar Roxas.

No problem with Cong. Jerry Treñas, who is now a member of the party, except that he has already announced his political retirement in 2019 to concentrate on family and business matters.

Unless Treñas and Mabilog agree to unite behind Ganzon, the latter would look like a snake if he dares run for either mayor or congressman without their support.

Being the new niño bonito of Duterte is no guarantee that an interloper like Ganzon would be welcomed by the well-entrenched LP team players, who might decide to field a stronger candidate against him. Unless forced by unforeseen circumstances to turncoat, they would not reduce themselves to Ganzon’s underlings.  

Right now, deemed stronger contenders for City Hall are incumbent vice-mayor Jose Espinosa III, former councilor Lex Tupas and former councilor Ramon Cua Locsin.

When this writer asked for the opinion of Jojo Ang, a prominent businessman and philanthropist, he named Ramon Cua Locsin as the strongest because of his  stature as governor of the Philippine Red Cross, Iloilo chapter; and as chairman of the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation and other civic organizations.

If none of the aforesaid wannabes has expressed availability yet, it could only be because they are still on the wait-and-see mode./PN




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