Liza Marcos might carry the big stick between Treñas, Baronda

By Alex P. Vidal

“In politics stupidity is not a handicap.”—Napoleon Bonaparte

THE hopes of many Ilonggos that former senate president Franklin “Frank” Drilon could intercede and stop the hemorrhage in the relationship between Iloilo City Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas and Iloilo City lone district Rep. Julienne “Jamjam” Baronda have been dashed to pieces when Drilon recently failed to hammer out an armistice between the feuding camps.

Aside from Drilon, there is no other “higher authority”—or political demigod—in the city, or region for that matter, known for his wisdom and majestic decree to compel Treñas and Baronda to disarm and send away their respective warriors to give peace a chance.

To compound the matter, Drilon has made sure the Ilonggos would no longer loiter in suspended animation as to who between Treñas and Baronda is closer to his heart.

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“Mayor Jerry Treñas is a good friend; he is a good mayor I have been working with him for several years and, in fairness, he has done his job well,” the 78-year-old former senator quipped when asked by reporters in May 2024.

For those who can read between the lines, message sent! The die is cast.

In fairness to the Ilonggo former senator, he also wished for an “amicable settlement” between the top city officials “so that we can continue the progress of Iloilo City.” That wish remains elusive as of this writing.

Ilonggos who continued to hope for a political guardian angel to ascend from the skies to save Iloilo City politics think the impasse might be the perfect opportunity for First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos to make an apparition and assert her influence and power.

The possibility isn’t far-fetched. LAM (Liza Araneta Marcos) is now considered to be a central figure not only in national politics, but also in Iloilo politics having been professor at the College of Law of the West Visayas State University (WVSU) for over a year now, making her a regular “resident” of Iloilo.

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LAM, so far, hasn’t publicly shown any bias or dug her fingers in the selection process of who should be the official candidates of the merged Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) headed by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. and the National Unity Party (NUP) chaired by former interior secretary Ronaldo Puno in the city and province of Iloilo.

But like Hypatia of Alexandria, LAM doesn’t act like a “normal” first lady. LAM dresses in the clothing of a scholar or teacher rather than in traditional women’s clothes. Her demeanor is also unpredictable and difficult to read.

Like Hypatia, who drove her own chariot in order to move freely around the Empire, donned a philosopher’s cloak and preached freely about Plato or Aristotle, LAM has her own coterie and moved freely around the country—in Iloilo mostly— to teach law, among her other academic hobbies and otherwise; she preaches openly, freely and ferociously against critics of her husband, including those in government—and cut them to pieces!

Look what happened to the “resigned” Department of Education secretary, among other “naughty’ incumbent officials. “Wala na yan.” (They are finished).

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All indications have shown recently that veteran politician Treñas appeared to have outsmarted the lady solon in as far as “maneuvers” in the major political parties are concerned.

But that is only in as far as Treñas’ connections among the political party bigwigs who are mostly his former colleagues in the House of Representatives and the League of Cities in the Philippines are concerned.

Baronda has her own “silent” backers nationally and locally, and they don’t usually make a lot of noise.

LAM and other Malacanang lackeys, of course, are also secretly reading and analyzing the script from the safe confines of their own political radar.

If things will ebb and deteriorate in the Iloilo City politics, like Harry S. Truman, she might catch everyone by surprise by emerging from nowhere and carrying a big stick while speaking softly but with full candor and authority.

In the end, LAM’s power, influence, and, perhaps, “decision” will play a key role on who will get Malacanang’s blessings come election time. Hulaton ta.

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

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