by ALEX P. VIDAL
“Being the first to cross the finish line makes you a winner in only one phase of life. It’s what you do after you cross the line that really counts.” RALPH BOSTON
The combined Defensor-Tupas-Garin Liberal Party coalition forces in the province of Iloilo proved too much for those not included in the powerful Malacanang-inspired bandwagon that recently reigned terror in the provincial political landscape.
The Liberal Party Express was merciless in its coup de grace here as it registered a shocking sweep that toppled some of the strongest names in local politics even before these big names in the opposition could win in major battles.
Among those casualties are the patriarch and matriarch of the dreaded Flores dynasty in the first district, who were wiped out in one of the bloodiest political executions in the history of the province. It was like a French Revolution where both the king and queen were guillotined.
Former police general Gerardo Flores (UNA) failed to regain his mayoral post in Miag-ao town losing to Dr. Macario Napulan (LP), while his wife, Juliet (UNA), also a former mayor, was badly mangled by the younger Richard Garin (LP) with a margin of about 40,000 votes in the congressional contest. Both Flores husband and wife have failed to win a congressional seat in their many attempts and their tormentors all came from one clan-- the Garins.
Another prominent casualty is former TESDA chief and congressman Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco (UNA), whose long dominance in the second district finally was put to a screeching halt by Frank Drilon sidekick Arcadio Gorriceta (LP), former mayor of Pavia town. Makati-raised Syjuco, who seemed indestructible since taking the district by storm with a shellacking of local favorite Jomarie Gerochi in 1998, fell with a thud as he finished last in a three-cornered duel.
Dr. Ferjenel Biron (UNA), demigod of the fast-rising Biron dynasty, followed suit as he absorbed his second and probably most bitter political setback since winning the congressional seat in the fourth district a decade ago, losing the Iloilo gubernatorial race to reelectionist Arthur Defensor (LP) also by a big margin.
Biron’s father, Hernan Sr., however is still mayor of Barotac Nuevo town while his brother, Jun, could be the next congressman in the fourth district at the expense of former Governor Niel Tupas, Sr.
The debacle was also most particularly painful for former fifth district congressman and vice governor Rolex Suplico, Biron’s running mate, who is still smarting from one electoral setback to another since declaring his emancipation from the Tupas clan, his relatives and original political benefactors.
The defeat to his first cousin, Boboy Tupas, could bring Suplico’s political career to ground zero. Suplico used to be one of the most colorful and promising solons in the country sharing the same popularity with now Sen. Chiz Escudero and former senator Miguel Zubiri, his former colleagues in the House of Representatives.
Now that Defensor has been assured of his second term, the Garins will now probably shoot next for the gubernatorial post to be vacated by Defensor as part of the concession. The Garins did not want Defensor’s present throne to change hand this early as they were aware they could not take capitol, the only empire that they haven’t captured, once the Birons are already there.
President Noynoy’s Liberal Party also showed its full force in Iloilo City when all its candidates from congressman to mayor, vice mayor and 12 city councilors completed the sweep, a first in the history of Iloilo City. /MP