Guv gives assurance for Gibo after 5 Cebu solons met Villar who forged alliance with Kusug

Posted on March 25, 2010


Guv gives assurance after 5 Cebu solons met Villar who forged alliance with Kusug

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia last night reiterated her commitment to the presidential bid of former defense secretary Gilbert Teodoro.

“One Cebu, as the president of One Cebu, has stated its commitment and stated its choice for president, we stand by that commitment. Nothing has changed and nothing will change,” Garcia told mayors and congressmen belonging to the local party during a meeting at the Marco Polo Hotel in Cebu City.

The reiteration was meant to dispel speculation that One Cebu had shifted its alliance to the Nacionalista Party standard bearer Manuel Villar following the formal alliance entered into by NP and the local opposition party Kugi Uswag Sugbu (Kusug) of her cousin, Cebu City mayoralty bet Alvin Garcia at the Marco Polo Plaza yesterday afternoon.

The talks were also fueled by the presence of five of the six congressmen in Cebu who met Villar in another function room. Also in the meeting was Gwendolyn’s father, Rep. Pablo Garcia of the 2nd district and brothers, Rep. Pablo John Garcia of the 3rd district and Winston Garcia, president and general manager of the Government Service Insurance System

Gwendolyn called for a meeting last night to clarify some concerns following reports that Winston was supporting Villar as well as to announce plans for the launch of One Cebu campaign on Friday, the start of the campaign period for local candidates.

Gwendolyn told the mayors and congressmen that she would keep her commitment to Teodoro but her choice for vice president remained open.

“In this season of shifting political alliances, they say there is no such thing as word of honor, I beg to disagree,” she said.

“This is in keeping with the ideals of One Cebu, I shall see to it that One Cebu keeps its word. We honor our commitments. We keep our promises. We do not change sides for convenience at the middle of the battle in the hope that we may be able to pick the winning side,” she said.

Gwendolyn said she wanted to put a stop to all questions on whom she and the One Cebu group would support for president.

“One Cebu stands firmly behind the candidacy of Gilbert Gibo Teodoro for president One Cebu honors its commitment, keeps its promise, keeps it,” she said.

Gwendolyn said she could only hope that the rest of One Cebu’s membership would also be behind her.

“I hope that you are with me here. I hope that you will join me in this firm commitment. Because if you do not then perhaps it is best….I risk losing all of your support but I would rather lose that than lose my self respect,” she said.

In an earlier interview, Pablo Garcia said they would abide by the decision of the governor as president of One Cebu Party.

“I am with the governor. Whatever the governor decides, we will support, you ask the governor.”

While everything was possible in politics, he said all the mayors in his district were with the governor and would follow the governor. “One Cebu is united.”

But One Cebu would not stop members who would shift support to other candidates, he added.

“I can speak for (son) Pablo John. We are together. We are with the governor and I can not speak for the others but you can put me on record that we are with the governor, for the governor,” said Pablo.

Villar arrived in Cebu yesterday to forge an alliance with Kusug. He was brought to the Marco Polo Plaza by Rep. Eduardo Gullas of the 1st district and mayors in his district, who held a meeting before that.

Alvin Garcia clarified that the alliance was only between Kusug and NP and not the entire Garcia family. He, however, admitted that the alliance was helped forge by cousin Winston.

He denied speculations that Kusug only wanted to get financial aid from NP for their campaign in the city.

He said they believed Villar would make a good president especially that the billionaire’s rag to riches story was an inspiration to many – a statement affirmed by Villar.

But what caught the reporters’ attention was the presence of the One Cebu congressmen in the hotel.

Pablo confirmed the meeting but said it was just to exchange pleasantries with Villar, a former colleague.

Aside from Pablo, also in the meeting were Representatives Gullas, Pablo John Garcia, Benhur Salimbangon of 4th district and Nerissa Soon-Ruiz of the 6th district. Winston also attended the meeting.

Rep. Ramon “Red” Durano VI of the fifth district was not in the meeting, said Pablo.

Pablo denied commitment of support was given to Villar. “We just exchange pleasantries. Gikomusta sa iyang kampanya (We asked how his campaign was going).”

Dumanjug Mayor Cesar Baricuatro, who is an ally of both Villar and the Garcias, claimed that most of Cebu congressmen had shifted alliance to Villar.

“I think, I can say now that Senator Manny Villar is winning in the province because everybody is with him na. All the political stalwarts of this province are already with Villar,” said Baricuatro, also the Villar for President Movement provincial chairman.

Baricuatro said he met with Villar prior to the senator’s meeting with Cebu congressmen. He would not confirm who had attended the meeting. He said he did not join them because “it is a discussion between the congressmen (of Cebu) and senator Manny Villar.”

“I do not know about guv (Gwen). But majority of the congressmen are with him already. That is what I know and that is what I heard also (from talks). I can say that Villar is doing well in Cebu and I would not be surprise if he will win in the province,” said Baricuatro.

High-placed Inquirer source in the Garcia camp said the meeting was to “express our full support for his presidential bid.”

The source, a stalwart of One Cebu who asked not to be identified by name, claimed that Villar secured the support of Salimbangon, Gullas, Soon-Ruiz, Pablo and Pablo John.

“Most, if not all, of the congressmen have already, as a matter of fact, expressed support for Villar. The entire Cebu is already Villar country. It’s only a matter of time before this comes out in the open,” the One Cebu official said.

In exchange for the crucial support of the powerful Garcia clan, Villar has given his nod to Winston’s cousin, Alvin, as the official candidate of the NP for the mayoral contest in Cebu City.

The source said they were giving Gwendolyn a chance to think it through “because we’re one party, One Cebu. We want her to have an honorable exit.”

“She is still focused on Gibo (Teodoro).”

According to the source, majority of the mayors in Cebu want Villar as their presidential candidate.

“They don’t want their votes to be counted as stray votes if they support Gibo,” said the source. “Gibo has no chance at all. We are only wasting our votes (on him).”

Contacted by phone, NP spokesperson Gilbert Remulla said Villar was in Cebu to sign a memoramdum of agreement for a local alliance with Alvin and his party, Kusug.

“Nothing yet official on a possible alliance with One Cebu,” said Remulla, who is running for the Senate under the NP slate.

Villar, for his part, said his commitment is limited with Kusug.

Soon-Ruiz, who is One Cebu and Lakas-Kampi vice president for the Visayas, admitted there were “exploratory talks” with Villar. Asked if she had shifted support from Teodoro to Villar, she replied: “Wala pa, wala pa. exploratory pa. I really don’t know.”

Winston played coy, saying he was in the hotel to meet a friend.

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said he believed that the Garcias are supporting different presidential candidates as a ploy to get all the funding during the elections.

“Gwen will get from one, Winston will get from the other. It’s a wonderful financial arrangement,” said Osmeña.

But he said his group was not threatened by the alliance with Kusug, saying Alvin even lost in his precinct during the 2004 elections when the two former allies ran in the mayoral race. / Inquirer, Correspondents Edison A. delos Angeles, Jhunnex Napallacan, Chris Ligan and Edison delos Angeles, and reporters Marian Z. Codilla, Dale G. Israel and Doris C. Bongcac