Democracy ‘alive’ in Iloilo City Council

By Alex P. Vidal

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”— Bryant H. McGill

CONTRARY to fears and suspicions of some observers, democracy is not yet dead in the Iloilo City Council.

Some city councilors weren’t afraid to defy Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” P. Treñas in a recent cockfighting impasse even if they belong in his political party.

The “defiance” appeared to be unalloyed and unintentional but based more on principles and conviction; to some extent anchored on legal and moral standpoints.

This probably explains why Treñas, for his part, was seemingly “sport” and didn’t take it against his allies in the City Council who voted against the measure that granted the request of the Iloilo Sportsmen Inc. (ISI) for a resolution of no objection (RONO) during the aldermen’s special session on January 31, 2023.

The RONO prevailed, of course, upon the “request” and lobbying of Treñas, which paved the way for the traditional cockfighting to push through from February 1-3, 2023 during the fiesta of Nuestra Señora dela Candelaria (Our Lady of Candles) in Jaro district.

Although the cockfighting in Jaro was saved by the bell in the eleventh hour, the voting wasn’t sweep.

Four councilors—Frances Parcon-Torres, Plaridel Nava, Rudolf Ganzon, and Alan Zaldivar stood their ground and prevented the “requesting” mayor, who must’ve promised the “Holy Grail” to the ISI, from scoring a shutout victory.

A certain amount of opposition is a great help to a man. Kites rise against, not with, the wind, said Lewis Mumford.


Some people refuse to please others at the expense of their emotional well-being. Even if it means saying “no” to people who are used to hearing “yes.”

Treñas was saved from embarrassment by councilors Rommel Duron (chair of the games and amusement committee and sponsor of the resolution), Irene Ong, Sedfrey Cabalua, Candice Magdalene Tupas, Ely Estante, Miguel Treñas, Leila Luntao, Rex Marcus Sarabia, Urminico Baronda, and Jhonny Young, who voted for the RONO.

The same councilors, except Duron, voted against the measure in their session on January 27.

The reversal of fortune occurred after no less than Treñas himself donned the jersey and played the captain ball.

Like the triumphant Julius Caesar after his conquest of Pompey in the Battle of Pharsalus, Treñas must have beamed after emerging from the fortress, “Thank you, thank you. I can’t forget your faces; I owe you one.”

Stephanie Lahart said, “Let today mark a new beginning for you. Give yourself permission to say NO without feeling guilty, mean, or selfish, Anybody who gets upset and/or expects you to say YES all of the time clearly doesn’t have your best interest at heart, Always remember: You have a right to say NO without having to explain yourself, Be at peace with your decisions.”

There are actually two schools of thoughts in the Jaro cockfighting hullabaloo.

Either we criticize the city mayor apparently for applying arm-twisting tactics and acting like a tyrant to get what he wanted and, thus, throwing a monkey wrench on the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches, or we hail the independence of some city councilors, in particular, and the capacity of the entire local legislative body to look for the good in every member and respect their opposition, in general.

They disagreed without being disagreeable.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)