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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, July 28, 2012
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Maybe next time


The fate of the planned division of Bácolod into two congressional districts has been given by Chiz Escudero a “maybe next time, say in five years.” Other senators have expressed the same sentiments and that’s that, then.

The bill has not yet been discussed in the Senate, although we understand from incumbent Bácolod Congressman Anthony Golez that the House of Representatives has already approved his bill. We heard at one time that Sen. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has said that they might consider it on time for the next election, but that was a big “maybe”.

This finality from Escudero makes clear the political combat in Bácolod, granting that the incumbent decides to run for reelection which, we understand, he had already said he would. However, there were also rumors that he might not cross swords with his erstwhile ally, Mayor Bing Leonardia.

Since all indications show that Leonardia will run for Golez’ seat, then we will have a battle royale in the city. Leonardia has nowhere to go, but to Congress, a natural destination of his political career path.

On the other hand, Golez has also nowhere to go but try to get reelected. Of course he can run for mayor here. The field is not so crowded yet. We have only incumbent Vice Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson who plans to “inherit” Leonardia’s seat in the BGC, and former Congressman Monico Puentevella who had salivated for Leonardia’s post during the last election only to be rejected decisively.

Now he wants another bout, not with Leonardia, but with Sayson who he probably thinks he can knock-out or just get a majority decision. Nevertheless he wants to fight what he maybe thinks an undercard. His problem is that Sayson is no push-over.

Will Golez be tempted to run for mayor? Earlier this year he was said to be undecided whether to run for mayor or for reelection. Media launched a guessing game but Golez appeared coy until a little later he made strong indications for reelection.

Talks are he wants Leonardia to spend money so his victory would be expensive. That, of course, assumes that Golez will run to lose, which I think he would not, but to fight to get reelected. That means he has to spend probably more than Leonardia who has already a built-in organization while Golez has yet to entice more ward leaders at higher cost than Leonardia.

Would the mayoralty post be more attractive to Golez? A three-cornered fight with three strong contenders would be more interesting and enjoyable. The question, however, will be who will get whose vote? Will Puentevella take out votes from Golez, Golez from Puentevella, etc?

The prospect of two Bácolod congressional districts will come, according to Escudero, probably in five years, depending on who sits in Malacañang and in BGC and who represents Bácolod in Congress at the time.

This means that some present-day politicians can start dreaming, especially the councilors who are graduating by the time. Five years is not far off and organization takes time and money.

Anyway, if not now, there is always another time.

At the rate politicians are jockeying for position, the chances of Bing Leonardia getting elected for Congress are high. Of course Golez will disagree, but assuming Bing makes it, will he file the bill to redistrict Bácolod?

We do not know and he has not said anything about it. However, he used to say that the time has come for the city to be divided considering that it has complied with all the requirements for such division.

In fact, it could have been done last year if not for some unforeseen but avoidable events that made some powerful politicians oppose the proposed measure. The thinking is that if the city is divided, the chances of Golez getting reelected are high. The proposal is therefore self-serving.

That is of course, presumptuous but wrong presumption or not, the fact is that these politicians shelved the proposal. It does not follow that Golez would be automatically reelected because there are other suitable candidates.

In fact, Bing Leonardia should not be complacent that if Golez does not run he would be unopposed. I learned one lawyer is set to challenge Leonardia in case Golez backs out.

But why should his candidacy be conditional? I think that he should run and make the congressional derby more interesting. The Liberal Party in Bácolod is also planning to field a congressional candidate which should be a welcome development, but the last time I heard the intending candidate backed out.

So for now we will elect only one congressman. We will just have to wait. In the meantime let’s watch how Golez will behave in the next weeks though I think he will run and make our elections more fun.*

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