BINAY EXPANDS CLOUT IN CEBU
Cebu may not be a “Binay country” but the Liberal Party cannot also claim the province as its bailiwick.
The alliances recently formed here by Vice President Jejomar Binay threatened the hold of the administration party on Cebu, which has the country’s most number of voters, noted a known Cebuano political figure.
With the One Cebu Party backing Binay’s bid, the Vice President is now assured of votes from three out of the seven districts in Cebu, according to Toledo City Mayor John “Sonny” Osmeña, a former senator.
These are the second and third districts, which are the bailiwicks of the Garcia family, and the fourth district, which is controlled by Rep. Benhur Salimbangon, a Garcia ally.
“I will make a fair bet that he is going to win in the third district,” said Osmeña.
The district is composed of Toledo City and the towns of Aloguinsan, Asturias, Balamban, Barili, Pinamungajan and Tuburan.
Osmeña was one of the political leaders whom Binay met when he quietly flew into Cebu on Monday, eight days before the official start of the campaign period on February 9.
Binay met with leaders of One Cebu Party headed by its gubernatorial bet, Winston Garcia, at the City Sports Club inside Cebu Business Park and managed to secure the party’s commitment to support him. After the meeting, Binay walked across to Ayala Center Cebu and went to Pancake House to meet Osmeña for a short talk.
In the evening, Binay had dinner in the house of suspended Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama in Barangay Basak Mambaling in Cebu City. Present during the meeting were members of the Team Rama slate in Cebu, including former mayor Alvin Garcia, who is running for congressman in the city’s north district under Team Rama and a cousin of Winston Garcia.
Also in the meeting was former congressman Antonio Cuenco of Cebu City’s south district, one of the leaders of the anti-Marcos movement in Cebu toward the twilight years of dictatorship in the 1980s.
“I have known him (Binay) for a long time since during the Cory (Aquino) presidency. I know that he is a good manager and he is what the country needs,” said Cuenco.
Cuenco’s son, Ronald, is running for councilor under the Team Rama slate.
Cuenco said the dinner was supposed to be limited to Team Rama candidates and close allies but about 500 people, including barangay officials and supporters, showed up.
The alliances formed by Binay were seen to have improved his chances of getting more votes in Cebu in the presidential elections this May 9, compared to 2010 when he did poorly in the vice presidential race.
Mar Roxas, then the LP vice presidential candidate, received 589,310 votes while Binay, who later won as vice president, only got 226,278. After Roxas garnered the most number of votes here in the 2010 vice presidential race, LP began looking at Cebu as its bailiwick.
But according to Osmeña, LP is not likely to bring a solid Cebu vote to its standard bearer. Cebu city and province have a combined voting population of 2.7 million.
Osmeña said he and One Cebu could bring votes for Binay in their bailiwicks in the second, third and fourth districts, which have a combined voting population of 659,993.
According to Osmeña, Roxas could only expect solid support in the first and sixth districts. Former congressman Eduardo Gullas of Alayon Party, which holds the first district, and Rep. Luigi Quisumbing of the sixth district have given their commitment to Roxas.
Another local party, Bakud of the Durano clan, which lords over the fifth district, only promised to support LP’s local party headed by reelectionists Gov. Hilario Davide III and Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, a member of the clan, Osmeña noted.
Although Bakud has yet to declare whom to support for president, fifth district Rep. Joseph Ace Durano has accepted to be the campaign manager of presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe.
The seventh district is a newly created district that has been carved out from the second district, which is the bailiwick of the Garcias.
Osmeña said Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte should not be ignored in the presidential derby in Cebu because he has a lot of Cebuano supporters.
He pointed out that Duterte does not only trace his roots in Cebu but many Cebuanos are backing his bid because he is “Bisaya.”
He added that even two of his relatives are for Duterte — his brother, former governor Emilio “Lito” Osmeña, and cousin, Sen. Serge Osmeña.
Osmeña said he expected Binay to benefit if Poe and Duterte would be disqualified because their supporters believed that LP was behind these cases.
Quoting former Speaker Tip O’neal’s famous statement “All politics is local,” Osmeña said he supported Binay because the Vice President knew how to touch base with local officials like him.
He said Binay had been in Toledo thrice in the last six years and had asked what the mayor needed from him. When he raised the need for a housing site, Osmeña said Binay went to his city to scout a site.
Nothing happened to the project because the available lots were covered by agrarian reform but Binay brought goodwill because of his effort, said the mayor.
Roxas, on the other hand, served in various positions in government in the last six years — from the Department of Public Works and Highway to Department of Interior and Local Government — but hardly dealt with local officials, he noted.
“He came to Cebu several times, mostly hanging around Cebu City. He never came to Toledo. As a matter of fact, all mayors of this side of the island told me ‘you were right. He had never visited us,’” said Osmeña.
And if Roxas becomes president, Osmeña said he would not expect anything for Toledo.
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