The Manila mayoralty derby in next year’s polls is fast shaping up to be an epic struggle and most probably a pyrrhic one at that. And why not, after all there are at this early stage already four determined candidates who have in so many words signified they are angling for control of the nation’s seat of government, its capital town as well as its P5-billion annual revenues.
Leading the pack, naturally, is the incumbent Mayor Alfredo Lim who is on the third year of his first term after staging a highly improbable comeback to city hall in the 2007 elections. Lim, who will be celebrating his 79th birthday this December, was formerly Manila mayor from 1992 to 1998; but he opted out of a third term when he ran for president in 1998. He lost.
Considered to be his strongest opponent is Environment Secretary Lito “Bulaklak” Atienza whom sources claim is itching for a rematch with his erstwhile mentor. Atienza was Lim’s vice mayor during his first stint in city hall, and quickly stepped into his shoes when the latter made a stab at the presidency. The two titans had a major falling out soon after Atienza became mayor, which prompted Lim to try to reclaim city hall in 2001. Chiquito lost. They came to grips in 2007 when Atienza, who was a third-termer and barred by the Local Government Code from seeking reelection, fielded his favorite son, Ali, as his replacement in Manila City Hall. Lim, who had relinquished his seat in the Senate to be able to run as mayor, literally steamrollered the wet-behind-the-ears Atienza boy.
Then you have former Vice Mayor Danilo Lacuna who had spent 14 years as a next-in-line and countless others in the city council. Lacuna, who hails from Bacood, has made a living out of being an elected public official and has made similar plans for his three offspring who are currently members of the city council. Already a septuagenarian, he reportedly indicated to hangers-on recently that he wants his turn at the helm before being put to pasture. With a smooth-functioning political machinery at his disposal, the betting is that Lacuna might just pull off the biggest gamble of his career.
The dark horse or dehado of the derby is Presidential Peace Adviser Avelino Razon. A Johnny-come-lately in the Manila political landscape, Razon reportedly took up residence in the Malate district but maintains a palatial spread in Antipolo where he houses his immediately family, and his aging mother and his fleet of expensive motorcycles and cars. A former chief of the Philippine National Police and head of the Manila police, Razon is said to draw his political strength from the slums of Tondo, composed of Districts 1 and 2, which has a voting population larger than all the other four legislative districts combined.
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In Quezon City, the political equation remains a bit hazy because so far only two popular politicians — namely incumbent Vice Mayor Bistek Bautista and Council Majority floorleader Ariel Inton — have signified their intentions to duke it out for the privilege of succeeding Mayor Sonny Belmonte in city hall.
A third force, referring to 2nd district Rep. Annie Susano who is heir to a multi-billion real estate fortune in the greater Novaliches area, is still weighing its options before joining the fray at an opportune time.
Dangerous Drugs Board Chairman Tito Sotto, whom we interviewed during the taping for the weekly Meet the Press public affairs program of the National Press Club aired Thursdays on Channel 4, hinted that he hadn’t yet made any decision whether to throw his hat into the QC mayoralty contest.
Inton grudgingly acknowledged that Vice Mayor Bautista is the odds-on favorite for now since he is supposedly the anointed one of Mayor Belmonte. Belmonte’s daughter, Joy, is reportedly being groomed as Bautista’s running mate.
The ever-controversial Michael Defensor, who once admitted to us he might consider running for QC mayor, is keeping his cards close to his chest and hasn’t yet given indications of his political plans in 2010. Defensor was once among the top contenders to replace Mayor Belmonte, but that was until he got enmeshed in the highly-charged ZTE-national broadband network controversy, where it appears he was one of the major players.
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Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG) chief Antonio Villar Jr. has pointed to a certain “Mr. G” as the brains behind the criminal syndicate responsible for flooding the country with millions of pirated DVD discs.
Villar alleged it is this same “Mr. G” who paid a whopping P10 million to certain officials of the Optical Media Board (OMB) for the release of two DVD replicating machines valued at around P100 million that were seized last April 3 during a raid by a joint PASG-OMB team in a warehouse in Barangay San Antonio, SFDM, Q.C.
The PASG and OMB are not on good terms these days. War erupted between the two high-profile law enforcement groups under Malacañang when Undersecretary Villar announced to media he is asking Congress to investigate the alleged disappearance of the two machines capable of churning out thousands of bogus discs daily which were under the custody of the OMB.
The DVD machines were the same ones that were also confiscated several years ago by the agents of the Video Regulatory Board led by then chairman Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.
Villar described this “Mr. G” as a super-rich businessman who used to be known as the “plastics king” in the Bureau of Customs responsible for the massive smuggling of plastic resins into the country. “Mr. G” has since parlayed his illegal gains from bigtime smuggling into a multi-billion hotel empire as well as other concerns. Incidentally, he also has a son who is an incumbent member of the House of Representatives. – source: Philippine Tribune