Political chameleon?

By Alex P. Vidal

“It’s a wonderful thing to be optimistic. It keeps you healthy and it keeps you resilient.”—Daniel Kahneman

THERE is more than meets the eye when Iloilo Governor Arthur “Toto” Defensor Jr. became the second high-ranking local government unit (LGU) chief from the opposition bailiwick of Western Visayas to express elation over the inclusion of the Panay-Guimaras-Negros (PGN) Bridges in President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. administration’s P8.3-trillion “Build Better More” Program.

For many astute observers, the governor’s gesture was a “game-changer” in as far as relationship between the Palace and the Iloilo Provincial Government is concerned.

For others, the governor “was merely returning the favor” after being invited officially in the recent State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The other was Iloilo City Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas, who also  cheered the enactment of MIF (Maharlika Investment Fund) saying “it would be a big help to accelerate the implementation of the national government’s key infrastructure projects.”

It was Defensor Jr.’s first major positive reaction publicly under the new national government since Marcos Jr. became president.

And it came after the governor attended Mr. Marcos Jr.’s SONA at the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City on July 24.


Defensor, whose father, former Iloilo Governor Arthur “Art” Sr., used to be Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) commissioner, came from a clan that staunchly opposed the Marcos dictatorship in the 80’s.

He, however, hasn’t spoken favorably for the MIF, unlike Treñas who went for a double-whammy.

Aware that Ilonggos who continue to adore former Vice President Leni Robredo are watching his gestures, Defensor Jr. may not be keen on revealing his cards.

It’s okay to say positive things about the PGN Bridges project since it will really benefit all the Ilonggos, it’s another story to swallow a bitter pill known as Maharlika Investment Fund, which isn’t popular among the hoi polloi by any stretch of imagination, just to please the Malacanang.

Both the governor and city mayor gave Robredo a resounding victory against Mr. Marcos Jr. in the May 2022 presidential election.

It remains to be seen, however, whether Defensor Jr. will now start to “cooperate” and “collaborate” with the Marcos Jr. administration in other national programs and projects now that time appears to have slowly “healed” the political wounds.


Smiling Imee was correct when she admitted to reporters during a recent visit in Iloilo she was not the right person to be asked about the defective P680-million Ungka flyover (UFO) or Iloilo flyover project by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Smiling Imee said, “Dapat ang tanungin ninyo ay ang mga engineers because they know about the infrastructure projects, not the politicians.”

She was only actually trying to be polite in front of the media cameras but in truth and in reality, she had a point.

DPWH engineers are technical people, while politicians like Smiling Imee are known to love talking and making promises.

To determine the culpability of those responsible for this grand infrastructure project fiasco, there’s no need to press politicians like Smiling Imee to do something especially if they’re not interested to take up the matter in the first place.

The last time when Smiling Imee was in Iloilo weeks back, Ilonggos thought she was serious about “supporting” any move to investigate the scandal in the Senate committee on infrastructure even if nobody (not even herself) has volunteered from the Upper Chamber to sponsor a Senate inquiry resolution.

Now she is singing a different tune. Wala gana or not interested.


THE END? CNN reported that one of the longest heat streaks in US history finally ended July 31 when Phoenix’s high temperature peaked under 110 degrees for the first time in a month.

“It’s been a year of abnormalities and streaks, so it’s just a testament to just how strange this year has been,” CNN quoted Ryan Worley, meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Phoenix.

But the heat is far from over for Phoenix and millions of others across the central US that are still baking in triple-digit temperatures.

Heat alerts are in effect for more than 50 million people from the Southern Plains to the Lower Mississippi River Valley.

Forecasts show North Texas could get as high as 111 degrees while New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, could see up to 115 degrees.

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