Rebuilding for May PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 17 July 2018 17:56

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

Vic Solis was more than the legal counsel and political operative of the late Mrs. Maria Clara L. Lobregat, the wealthy,  philanthropist, politically-influential woman and main sponsor of the monetarily-disadvantaged persons. He was like an adopted son. He was one of the close-in advisers of the Lobregats, orchestrating the launch of Mr. Celso L. Lobregat to stardom from Vito Cruz when he was then a “nonentity.” The Year 1982 wasn’t really a good political year for the Nunez residents as the great Cesar C. Climaco, armed only with candies, bread and “pansit”, trounced Mrs. Lobregat and my late uncle, Joaquin F.S. Enriquez, Jr., in the National Assembly polls. But the succeeding polls, however, were stunning victories for the Lobregats - 1987, 1992, 1995, 1998, onward. Put together, mother and son, Celso, have serve Zamboanga for 31 years. In the process, however, they’ve lost a few good men, starting with Vic. The list is long. Never mind why they became estranged.

With the recently-held barangay elections that witnessed many of Mr. Celso Lobregat’s “candidates” winning convincingly, Mr. Lobregat has been regrouping his forces, old and new, in the grassroots where he is strongest in preparation for his ambitious return like a knight in shinning armor to City Hall. One of his “aides” (alalay) boasts that they’re building a Bentley of grassroots operations because the driver is going to floor the gas pedal starting this October. (Or has he started already.)

Meanwhile, the once-vaunted machinery of the Liberal Party whose driver is the multi-talented, highly-educated, culturally-molded,Mrs. Maria Isabelle G. Climaco-Salazar, is building a solid foundation of young, vibrant, energetic people to help carry her to her third and last term as mayor, granting for the sake of argument that elections will push through next May. She has been obviously “hiring” millennials that I’ve never even heard of, people who had no apparent ties with her in previous campaigns.

As far as Mrs. Climaco-Salazar and Mr. Lobregat are concerned, all systems are go for next year’s elections. Both have made their points very clear on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the same as 98 percent of the residents. What about their stand on Federalism, this proposed system of government that will send the taxpayers to the cleaners?

Nevertheless, in the coming months leading up to Red October, both protagonists will sign up for supporters in all the 98 barangays. Better still,  both will be going for presidential endorsements, even Mayor Sarah Carpio’s, and it will be very unlikely if neither one has not made in-roads into Malacanang and Davao through Presidential Special Assistant Bong Go or soon-to-be appointed chairman of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) Rolly Macasaet (whose grandfather, Gregorio Ledesma, was a former mayor of the federal, highly-urbanized, independent city of Zamboanga).

BBL. That’s Mr. Lobregat’s battlecry, I was told by a Chinese merchant: Bring Back Lobregat. A Filipino businessman opposed to his candidacy retorted: Badly Beaten Lobregat.

Mrs. Salazar will be urged by the LP hierarchy to do her own fundraising scheme, because the Yellow Army doesn’t have the cache to dig in for gold. There are talks (liyos, if you may) that Mrs. Mayor is targeting at least 200,000 voters, new and old, of various religious beliefs and professionals that’s aimed at dwarfing the combined resources of Mr. Lobregat and his adopted party, PDP-Laban. But can Mrs. Mayor catch up with Mr. Lobregat’s vaunted political machinery that’s been “tried and tested” (and may I add, trusted) all of 31 years? Mr. Lobregat has built his grassroots army, although he has lost some of the captains in the years that he’s been in office. He doesn’t have a baliwick. The “capitans” are his capital.

Next year’s elections will probably cost Mrs. Mayor P30 million. Mr. Lobregat will probably spend double that amount. That’s how elections have become. For example, to get elected as kagawad, you have to spend at least P200,000. Susmariajosep! There’s no such thing as building goodwill anymore to get elected. If you don’t have money, you have no issues to talk about.

There is now a widespread excitement about the Salazar-Lobregat tussle — if it ever happens — billed as the “Battle of Winners”. The loyalty issue will come into play. Accomplishments will also play a huge role. Mrs. Mayor has her ears on the ground like an Indian tracker. She knows wherefrom her distinguished opponent hails. The question is: can she smash the Lobregat political machinery that was built to stand the test of time?