By BicolToday.com News Team
SORSOGON CITY – Burying the hatchet for the time being to support hometown mate and Sorsogon’s son Chiz Escudero for the vice-presidency, warring influential politicians here have united, and are making use of their clout to push up Escudero as he faces two rival foes, Leni Robredo and Bongbong Marcos, who are steadily climbing up the polls lately.
They declared their support during the Sorsogon sortie of Escudero and presidential candidate Grace Poe on Saturday, April 9.
The top politicians are Sorsogon Second District Representative Deogracias Ramos, LP provincial chairman; Raul Lee UNA provincial chairman; and LP gubernatorial candidate Robert “Bobet” Lee Rodrigueza, the godson of LP standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.
Two Escudero opponents rising
Rival candidate Marcos is enjoying the support of “Solid North”, the Ilocos provinces and other Ilocano-speaking provinces.
While another rival, Robredo, although a Sorsogonon whose roots came from Bulan, threatens to break up an ideal “Bicol vote”.
Robredo has a sizeable following in the Camarines provinces, and a fair share in Albay.
Sorsogon Governor Raul Lee said three (3) major political camps in the province have united to back Escudero – members of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), the ruling Liberal Party (LP), and the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
“We have a local alliance with UNA, NPC, and LP as we want to uphold the candidacy and leadership of Chiz,” Lee said.
Sorsogon LP junks Robredo
Last month, the Sorsogon LP has declared it will junk Robredo against Malacañang’s wishes, and the provincial LP will go for a Roxas-Escudero tandem. (See related news link: Liberal Party in Sorsogon to dump Robredo, throws support to Chiz for vice-president )
Meanwhile, Chiz Escudero has kept silent over the province’s junking of Grace Poe for Roxas, a maneuver which Escudero cannot influence otherwise, but just to please the new re-alignment that serves his political interest and self-preservation.
Governor aspirant Rodrigueza, Lee’s son, had justified junking Robredo, saying that in Naga, there is a move for a Grace Poe-Robredo tandem, which also junked Escudero. (See related news link: LP in Sorsogon for Chiz VP bid, Leni out ).
According to reports, a Poe-Robredo tandem is moving forward which is organized by the religious sector, a move tolerated by the Church, but not openly sanctioned.
The Sorsogon gathering was joined by 13 out of 14 town mayors, and a city mayor.
Governor Lee said he would not leave UNA, and his wife, Sorsogon City Mayor Sally Lee, and governor aspirant son, Bobet, will remain in the ruling party.
Former Casiguran mayor Boboy Hamor likened the pro-Escudero alliance of Sorsogon politicians as “chopsuey”, a Chinese dish of mixed vegetables.
Escudero used to be the perennial poll front-runner among vice presidential candidates, but the race has become tight with the inclusion of Marcos and Robredo, now Escudero’s two toughest rivals.
Militants’ anti-Marcos campaign
Lately, militant groups are lobbying hard to convince the electorate not to vote Bongbong Marcos, using their campaign slogan “Never again to another Marcos in Malacañang.” (See related news link: College editors, campus journalists warn public about another Marcos coming to power )
The militants are resurrecting the martial law nightmare during the dictatorial regime of Bongbong’s father, then President Ferdinand Marcos when he ordered the imprisonment and persecution of more than 10,000 persons, who later won a class suit filed at a Hawaii Federal Court for indemnification chargeable to the Marcos Estate. (See related news link: Martial Law victims observe anniversary class suit win; ‘never to another Marcos again!’ ).
According to militants, Bongbong has repeatedly lied by denying knowledge of any abuse attributed to his father dictatorial rule.
Robredo’s alleged largesse of PhP 500 million
In Camarines Sur and Naga City, many local LP bets and supporters had suffered demoralization over lack of LP funds, or not made available to them.
Robredo had suffered a set-back when many local LP bets and supporters had shifted to supporting other national candidates, junking her, after suffering organizing difficulties when the LP leadership allegedly had been keeping the money pipeline tightly closed since December 2015.
There was speculation that Robredo had received PhP 500 million as part of the deal when she accepted the offer as Roxas’ running mate. And, rumors had flown that the alleged PhP 500 million are part of LP campaign funds, or the largesse is her “personal insurance for a blissful retirement.” (See related news link: ‘Did Leni Robredo receive P500M?’ – LP local bets grumble as money pipeline tight closed )
The LP local boys have been blaming Robredo for not opening the money pipeline, and blaming her for their campaign organizing difficulties, as early as December 2015 until February 2016.
At this time, rival political parties were already secretly organizing, disregarding COMELEC rules.
The Robredo camp has kept silent over the issue. [BicolToday.com]