Early political moves

By Modesto P. Sa-onoy

It is still more than two years to the next local elections, but the politicians cannot deny the blood that flows in their veins. As one dye in the wool politician once told me, the plan for the next election is made even before the votes are counted. In between the elections, moves are being studied and calculated for their value for the next fight.

It is not a surprise that the United Negros Alliance held what is euphemistically called “bonding” among the member, but it is also a way of finding out who is still with them. As Cadiz City Mayor Salvador Escalante described their assembly last January 24, it was intended to also show the public that “the party is still a force in the coming elections.”

Indeed, if they continue to remain silent considering their decision not to oppose the candidacy of Governor Eugenio Lacson last year, they could be considered to have already acceded the next gubernatorial fight to Lacson. That is akin to surrender and would marginalize them in the political equation in the province.

In fact, Escalante made it clear – this is not a Christmas party but a “bonding” which clearly means, checking up who is still with them and who will probably be against them in 2022. It was a headcount.


As it turns out, two mayors are no longer with UNEGA – Ernesto Estrao of Hinobaan and Cicero Borromeo of Candoni. They were reported to have already transferred to Love Negros party of the present provincial administration. These mayors probably know which side of their political bread is buttered. In this sense, their loss can be understood in the light of their needs but there are certain virtues even in politics that define a person.


Of course, a loss is still a loss no matter how small. But Mayor Escalante said, “It’s their choice, we respect that.”
While the UNEGA lost two mayors from small towns, the party gained two mayors from a much larger constituency – Mayor Raymond Tongson, Jr. of Himamaylan City and Ella Garcia Yulo of Magallon. This looks like an “uncommon valor” because they chose the party outside of power and thus their move cannot be classified as opportunism.


As we know in Philippine politics the party in power holds all the aces, like funding for local projects. In terms of political value, UNEGA gained more than it lost. Why would Tongson and Garcia choose a party that cannot give them the largesse that politicians seek even to their dishonor?


The affiliation of Mayor Tongson and Mayor Yulo to UNEGA carries more significance than at first glance but, let us put that subject aside for the moment. The implications will bear itself out later, granting that the political wind continues to follow the present path. And there are whispers in the wind coming out of the halls and corridors of the Capitol, even outside of it but still linked to what is happening inside.

The two provincial political parties came into an agreement during the last election with the aim of keeping the peace. But even then, it was an uneasy peace that many consider a denial of the right of the people to choose their leaders. The two parties decided for the people and denied the present administration the right to claim that it is the choice of the majority.

Although Escalante claims the elections were not discussed during the gathering, there are things to perceive than the eyes can see. What is important, though is that former Governor Alfredo Marañon who attended the assembly showed he is doing well and that he “emphasized that the party will continue to exist even though he is no longer in public office.” Well said, but his presence and assurance tell more than the spoken words.

The gathering included local officials – the backbone and operational units of a political party.

Incumbent Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer was earlier reported he will not contest the present administration. That was gracious of him and he might really stay with Lacson for the next round. If the two parties retained their alliance, they will be certain of reelection.

However, Lacsons’ political powerhouse has been dented and even lost or will go against him. As in Physics, nature abhors a vacuum and so will politicians rush in to fill in the space.