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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, June 23, 2009
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As the election fever rises, so do speculations ranging from the ridiculous to the inane and the credible.

Some of these are intrigues and plants to divert public attention and to fish for reaction and countermoves. Knowing how the competition responds is a vital part of warfare, including political combat.

The latest we hear is that Bacolod’s Vice Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson is being groomed for the Nationalist People’s Coalition candidate for congressman of Bacolod. To run for his post is Councilor Greg Gasataya who is completing his last term.

Gasataya has been the topnotcher in the past elections and it is presumed that he will also have the same edge as others, who, interestingly are not yet known in whichever camp.

The ploy is to get Sayson to square off with Cano Tan, Anthony Golez, Jocelle Batapa Sigue and Renecito Novero.

With his stronghold in several big barangays, Sayson is expected to be the strongest against Cano Tan.

This scheme, it is reported, is actually a “pressure” on Golez to come to the “aid of the elections” of the camp of Mayor Evelio Leonardia who is the party head of the NPC in Bacolod.

So far the NPC has no known candidate for Congress but Leonardia had been bringing Golez along in several gatherings, giving the subtle signal that Golez is the choice of Leonardia for Congress.

The problem here is that Leonardia was also bringing Cano Tan along in several of his sorties and the mayor has not said anything about who was his choice to represent Bacolod in Congress.

Cano has not indicated he has a “partner” for his bid, leaving his leaders and supporters to go whichever way they wish in the mayoralty race, though he said he will have a line-up for the Sanggunian.

Except for hosting five councilors abroad, Golez has also refrained from making an SP line-up although this is yet too early for him to come out. He may opt to have his list, if he does not adopt Leonardia and his slate.

Another reason for the floating of Sayson for congressman is the reported incursion of the operators identified with Golez into the Leonardia camp. If the report is true, it would appear like the raiding of Leonardia’s organization to insure that Golez does not have to rely on Leoanardia for his campaign.

This seems plausible because it seems that Golez will not be with NPC. His ally, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro is persona non grata in the NPC. The alliance of NPC and the administration is shallow and in the coming polls the chance of the NPC fielding its presidential bet against that of the Arroyo party is high and this will split Golez from Leonardia.

By threatening to field Sayson, a strong contender who can match Cano Tan, the Leonardia camp would be sending a signal that Golez will be left out.

If I read the thinking of Golez right, he does not care because he is moving on with his own organization. His men on the ground under the direction of his wife, Princess Soraya, are setting up the machinery to insure that he does not become dependent on the Leonardia machine.

In the process, however, raiding Leonardia’s and Puentevella’s camps becomes unavoidable. That means stepping on their toes and it can be expected the two will not take lightly the decimation of their ranks.

We can therefore anticipate more maneuvers. Who will emerge the dominant group will be clear before the filing of certificates of candidacy.

How the alignment will shape will also be determined by the presidential candidate. Golez had been charged with working for the candidacy of Manny Villar. He had denied this but there is no clear indication that Golez is also for the Lakas-Kampi candidate because he is not a member of either.

Nevertheless, the ally of Golez in Malacañang is Teodoro, so where does his loyalty lie? Villar is a family business associate.

The NPC will field its own candidate who will challenge Teodoro. In this sense, Golez cannot run in tandem with Leonardia’s camp.

Thus it is more plausible if the NPC will put up Sayson rather than support Golez as we have initially thought.

Sayson has not kept under the bedsheet his desire to also run for higher office and the only one available for him at the moment is the House of Representatives. He can be the rightful successor to Leonardia in 2013 for City Hall but there is a chance now for him to fill the vacuum in the NPC slot of Congress.

The trip of Sayson to Manila to join the bigwigs of the United Negros Alliance fueled speculations that he is being considered to run for Congress. He was the only vice mayor with the UNA mayors, congressmen and the governor.

He has also been reticent in his replies to inquiries whether he was running for Congress, like a bashful damsel before a persistent suitor.

If he decides to run for Congress, he will be a strong contender that will make the congressional race in Bacolod an exciting one.*




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