Cebu politics has always hogged the limelight and one reason is that the province has over one million votes. Thus, it could make or unmake national candidates.
I made a survey of the seven districts of Cebu province as well as Cebu City?s two, and it appears that Lakas presidential candidate Gilbert ?Gibo? Teodoro has the edge in Cebu.
In the First District, Rep. Eddie Gullas, who?s affiliated with Nacionalista Party?s Manny Villar, is running for reelection with no rival. In the 2nd district, the elder Pablo Garcia, who supports Gibo, is running unopposed. In the 3rd District, Pablo John Garcia, who?s also supporting Gibo, is running against former Rep. Antonio Yapha; in the 4th District, Celestino Martinez III is running under the Liberal Party against Ben-Hur Salimbangon. The latter?s sister Mariquita Salimbangon, who?s financing his campaign, is a friend of Laarni Enriquez, so it could be a toss-up between Noynoy Aquino and Joseph Estrada there. In the 5th District, Red Durano, brother of Tourism Secretary Ace Durano, is unopposed and expected to carry Gibo. In the 6th District, Nerissa Soon-Ruiz, winding up her third House term, is running for mayor of Mandaue under Villar. If she goes against Gov. Gwen Garcia, Gibo?s staunch backer, it could be a toss-up between the two presidential candidates. If they unite, Gibo wins. In the 7th District, Boy Radasa is winding up his last term as Lapu-Lapu mayor and is running for the House, with wife Paz running for his old seat. Radasa is with Gwen, so he is pro-Gibo.
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In Cebu City?s First District, the Villar camp is fielding Marian de los Santos against Cutie del Mar, daughter of former Lakas stalwart Raul del Mar, who is in Noynoy?s camp. In the city?s Second District outgoing Mayor Tommy Osmeña is running under the LP against Jonathan Guardo of the NP. In the Cebu City mayoralty race, it?s a four-cornered fight, with former Vice Mayor Alvin Garcia running in the Villar camp against: Mike Rama, a Lakas original now running with Tommy?s Bando Osmeña; Georgia Osmeña, Tommy?s younger sister, who is running under Lakas; and former Sen. John Osmeña, who is running as an independent but for Noynoy.
In the gubernatorial race, reelectionist Gwen Garcia is running against councilor Hilario Davide III, but she is expected to win hands-down.
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Lakas senatorial candidate Silvestre ?Bebot? Bello III recently met with our group of media women and he highlighted his public service career spanning 40 years. Among the current crop of senatorial candidates few can equal the vast experience of Bello, an Ateneo Law graduate. He held the justice portfolio twice, the first time during the Cory presidency and then during the Ramos era when he also served as FVR?s solicitor general. He also served as councilor in Ilagan, Isabela, in the early 1970s and from there he was transplanted to Davao where he became city administrator, with a reputation for sound management and progressive innovations.
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But it was in the contentious peace process that Bello delivered the most outstanding?and colorful?performance of his public career. His first stint as chief negotiator with communist rebels came during the Ramos presidency. Under the Arroyo administration, he chaired the Philippine peace panel for three years. Ironically, FVR was also his jailer twice during the Marcos era, when he was one of the first human rights lawyers to join the Free Legal Assistance Group founded by Sen. Jose Diokno and Haydee Yorac to assist human rights victims. Bello?s stint there helped him earn the trust and confidence of key CPP-NPA-NDF leaders like Joma Sison, Luis Jalandoni and Fidel Agcaoili. He was able to secure the release of NPA hostages like Army Maj. Noel Buan after 22 months in captivity, and bring back into the mainstream retired Brig. Gen. Raymundo Jarque. As justice secretary, he succeeded in convicting influential suspects in the Vizconde massacre and the Maureen Hultman and Roland John Chapman double murder case. He prosecuted infamous coup plotters and was also instrumental in the surrender of renegade Lt. Col. Rodolfo Aguinaldo.
Bello?s wealth of experience in the field of human rights and peace negotiations will be most valuable in strengthening the peace process. But after listening to his colorful stories about rebel personalities on both sides of the ideological fence, the media women advised him to write his memoirs.
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Weeks back, I wrote about the long runaround given to my friend Emilia Ledesma-Caparas when she tried to get her car, purchased three years ago, registered permanently with the Land Transportation Office. Former LTO chief Arturo Lomibao, who has since been appointed transportation undersecretary, immediately wrote to say that Caparas? plight ?is not peculiar to vehicle owners who buy new cars. ? He said it?s SOP at the LTO district offices to assign a temporary plate number to a new vehicle if no plates are available. Without an assigned plate number the vehicle cannot be registered in the IT system, but he said it?s a ?mandatory requirement? for the district office to correct and replace this temporary plate number entry in the data base with the permanent plate number.
If this is complied with, said Lomibao, all the records pertaining to that vehicle would have been completed in the data base. He admitted, however, that their IT people discovered that some district offices have been neglecting to update the records. Since then, he said, he issued a memo directing LTO officers to update the data. Lomibao said this particular district officer of LTO Manila was made to explain why he shouldn?t be punished for failure to update the record of the Caparas vehicle. But what about the possibly thousands of ordinary citizens who have no access to media?