The deal PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 02 April 2018 14:47

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

San Jose, CA. — In 2012, sometime in October, four smart individuals — one neat, the other stylish, the third one decent and the fourth one astute — met under sultry weather in a beach resort to resolve a crucial political dilemma: who’s going to face a “formidable” adversary from the north, armed with money and extreme popularity, but short in integrity? After almost three hours of delicate assessment with the distinguishable, efficacious mediation of a crafty businessman, it was decided that then Vice Mayor Maria Isabelle G. Climaco-Salazar would run for mayor, jostling to the ground sunny-smiling ex-Congressman Erbie Fabian.

But it turned out that “Mr. Formidable”, Romy Jalosjos, a Zamboangueno by birth who made his millions as the producer of “Eat Bulaga” and owner of Dakak Beach Resort, was perpetually disqualified from running for public office. That dosed off the fire and washed away the determined conquest by the north of a small realm in the south under the “imperare” of Mr. Celso L. Lobregat, the unequivocal leader of the highly-urbanized independent city of Zamboanga.

Still, the empress-to-be was picked to run in exchange for her loyalty, meaning adherence and obedience to what her handler would adjure. A ridiculous arrangement, some said, because it left nothing to the empress to govern except tread in the rear of her handler, the agile politician known for his artful diplomatic maneuvering that took him to high places in the House of Representatives like membership in the powerful Commission of Appointments.

The judgement that sidelined Mr. Fabian was not to be his burial hymn for he will make a comeback. Whether or not Mr. Fabian will be part of the “powerhouse ticket” as bragged about by Mr. Lobregat that’s seen to cripple permanently any opposition to his march toward City Hall is a question mark. Or, maybe, Mr. Fabian can be Madam Beng’s runningmate in the minority party in 2019. Wouldn’t that be colossal tandem?

Last year, right about April 19, Mr. Lobregat, after bolting from the LDP (Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino) and joining the super majority party, the PDP-Laban, swore in a battalion of political butterflies as members of the PDP-Laban, an act that he will re-enact very soon as the newly-appointed city chairman of the super majority party in Zamboanga.

Back to the beach-deal, every election is dictated by local circumstances. There can be upsets (as in the case of Agan vs. Lobregat in 1998). Because of drastic changes in the political field in Zamboanga — friends becoming foes, changes in political alliances, partisan gerrymandering — a candidate wins more votes and sympathy if he/she is with the mighty majority party.

In beautiful Zamboanga, voters are closely divided now. The series of voter registrations made it so. If the millennials registered to exercise their privilege to vote, then Madam Beng has a good chance to getting voted to a third term, granting for the sake of argument that there will be elections in 2019.

Out of curiosity, I witnessed the Comelec office crowded with registrants during the last registration of voters. I saw seniors and young adults queuing the line. I recognized none of them — like they weren’t residents, but migrants. That means that Madam Beng will need an electoral earthquake  to retain her seat and save her city council from being thrown under the bus.

Mr. Lobregat should be worried, too. In 1980, with the influx of refugees from Region 9 provinces into the city and the repeated bombings, killings and kidnappings in Zamboanga peninsula and other regions in Mindanao, the inexhaustible Cesar C. Climaco prophesied that Zamboanga would be the next Lebanon. Up until now, that hasn’t come true. At least, not yet. There is no guarantee that Mr. Lobregat, who’s getting old, or his anointed successor, will be in control of the polls in, say, 12 years. Mr. Lobregat is banking on his popularity. With all his assurances that Zamboanga will be great, the people have fallen in love with him. That is his insurance into retaking City Hall in 2019.

Last Updated on Monday, 02 April 2018 14:49