‘SAY ORANGE’ (Villar’s new allies from One Cebu caught in photos)

Posted on April 21, 2010


By Doris C. Bongcac, Reporter


They all deny switching to the “orange team” of Sen. Manuel Villar.

But photos of Villar’s wife, Cynthia, meeting them in Mandaue City last week and raising their arms in victory say the opposite.

Photos of the secret meeting at the residence of 6th district Rep. Nerissa Soon Ruiz were taken on April 14, a Wednesday, and were released by party insiders, who said the participants “pledged their support for Villar” as their presidential bet.

  1. Present were several One Cebu candidates in the 4th district of north Cebu.

They were Rep. Benhur Salimbangon, Daanbantayan town Mayor Sun Shimura, Medellin Mayor Ricky Ramirez , Madridejos Mayor Salvador dela Fuente, Ceasar Salimbangon (candidate for vice mayor in Bogo City) and Provincial Board Member Joven Mondigo Jr.,

The allies of Gov. Gwen Garcia were shown huddling in a table with Rep. Cynthia Villar and other known Villar allies, then posing with broad smiles and flashing the “check mark” hand gesture of the Nacionalista Party (NP) standard bearer, while standing with Cynthia.

Will they be sanctioned for disloyalty?

Governor Garcia met last night behind closed doors with One Cebu members at the Marco Polo Plaza, where party discipline was being discussed as of press time.

Sen. Manny Villar’s growing influence counts as his allies in Cebu the congressmen of the 1s1 district (Rep. Eduardo Gullas) and 6th district (Soon-Ruiz). Last Friday, several local officials in the 2nd district signed a manifesto of support, although two of the are now disowning it – Provincial Board Member Victor Maambong and Ronda mayoral candidate Mariano Blanco.

While Governor Garcia has thrown the weight of her One Cebu party behind Lakas-Kampi CMD bet Gilbert Teodoro, the presidential race in the Visayas and the country has been shaping into a tight battle between Villar and Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., who have consistently led popular polls of the SWS and Pulse Asia.

Later today, Villar will be attending political rallies in Metro Cebu, including one at the 15,000-seat Cebu City Coliseum, bringing with him a cast of entertainers and his lineup of senators.

Alvin Garcia, Kusug mayoralty bet for Cebu City who is Villar’s main ally in the capital, said his opposition slate will anchor the program which starts 5 p.m. before Villar arrives to speak.

Villar will attend a rally in Talisay City and Cebu City before heading for rallies in Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu City.


Congressman Salimbangon dismissed talk that he has shifted loyalties to Villar.

“Binoang na nga storya (That story is foolishness),” he said, when sought for comment.

He said he remains committed behind Teodoro.

“I even attended the Lakas Kampi meeting this morning (in Manila),” Salimbangon told CEBU DAILY NEWS in a late afternoon interview.

Salimbangon said he was one his way back to Cebu to attend the 8 p.m. meeting called ed by Governor Garcia at the Marco Polo Hotel.

Garcia’s One Cebu party represents about 90 percent of incumbent local officials but defections to the NP camp of Villar have shown cracks in the group, spurred by offers of logistics support by Villar emissaries and the delayed release of support by Lakas-Kampi for the campaigns of local officials.

While Garcia has invoked “palabra de honor” , some party members and allies have started coming out in support of Villar.

On April 10, close to 200 officials in the 1st district under Congressman Gullas, a long-time Villar supporter, signed a manifesto of support for Villar’s presidential bid sidestepping an alliance of Gullas’ Alayon party with One Cebu.

Six mayors and two candidates for mayor signed up.

Last Friday, a manfiesto was signed by some officials in the 2nd district of Rep. Pablo Garcia, the governor’s father.

Provincial Board Member Maambong, who is running for Consolacion mayor under One Cebu, and Ronda vice mayor Mariano Blanco yesterday denied they have shifted allegiance to Villar.

Their signatures appear on the pro-Villar manifesto, a copy of which was sent to CDN.

Maambong said he didn’t see the text of the one-line manifesto. He said he signed the sheet based on the “note” he indicated in the document.

He said he wanted a One Cebu party meeting called to discuss “valid” concerns of its members.

“The reasons raised (by some members) were valid, so I will file a resolution within the party to give them the opportunity to voice out their reasons,” said Maambong yesterday.

In a separate press conference at the governor’s office, former mayor Blanco said his signature was made in support of Maambong’s call for a general assembly in One Cebu amidst the signs of defection by otrhers.

“We do not want to be a traitor to the group,” Blanco insisted.

Like Maambong, Blanco said he didn’t read the text written above their signed names in the manifesto.

He said he relied on Maambong’s assurnace “Oka ra na, my note is there below”.

Blanco said a “close friend” invited him to the meeting “somewhere in Cebu where there is a tall building near the sea” but wouldn’t say who or where.

Maambong said he was invited by Alcoy Mayor Nick delos Santos, a signatory of the manifesto.

The April 14 meeting in Rep. Soon-Ruiz’s house in barangay Cubacub in Mandaue City followed shortly after a One Cebu meeting which Garcia called in the afternoon of the same day with officials in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th district.

The later meeting in Mandaue was also attended by Rep. Eduardo Gullas and his 1st district mayors.

Congresswoman Soon-Ruiz’s husband Lito Ruiz and Ahong Chan who are NP candidates for congressman and mayor in the new lone district of Lapu Lapu City were also there.

When CDN called to confirm their presence in the meeting, Mayors Dela Fuente and Shimura dodged, and said they couldn’t recall attending it.

“Wala ko kahibaw ana because by that time we were also having a meeting with Governor Gwen,” said Shimura.

He said he and his mother, Daanbantayan Vice Mayor Ma. Luisa Loot, remain committed to One Cebu party and Teodoro’s candidacy.

“Gibo gyud mi because ever since the start of the campaign Gibo na man gyud mi sa Daanbantayan. It’s not for the money but I believe that he is the most qualified for president,” Shimura told CDN.

Mayor Dela Fuente said that on April 14 he left his campaigning in Madridejos town, Bantayan Island just to attend the governor’s One Cebu meeting at the Capitol.

Salimbangon said in a separate interview that he remains committed to support only Teodoro for president.

He didn’t deny previous meetings with Cynthia Vilar or emissaries of other political parties.

“Normal man na nga they will continue courting our support but I told them that we are already committed to Gibo and One Cebu,” said Salimbangon.

Congressman Salimbangon, whose sister Mariquita Yeung is running for Bogo city mayor and is a close friend of Governor Garcia, posed with Congresswoman Villar. In a pair shot.

In another photo, Gullas, Soon-Ruiz , Salimbangon and Lito Ruiz were raising their hands with Cynthia Villar like a victory pose.

Salimbangon, when interviewed, even said the photos should be “verified”.

Salimbangon said other Lakas Kampi allies were invited to the meeting with Mrs. Villar in Mandaue but that the governor brother Rep. Pablo John (3rd district) and father Pablo (2nd district) were not available. /with Reporter Dale Israel