SURVEY results and frantic calls from the Capitol did not dissuade incumbent mayors of the second district of Iloilo from formally joining fourth district Rep. Ferjenel Biron under the Nacionalista Party (NP).
No less than Senator Cynthia Villar, wife of NP president Manuel Villar, flew in to administer the oaths of the new NP members from the district of Rep. Arcadio “Cadio” Gorriceta at Tatoy’s Manokan in Cabatuan Saturday afternoon.
The mayors who took their oath were Michael Gorriceta of Pavia, Geefre Alonsabe of Alimodian, John Tarrosa of Zarraga, Marina Gorriceta of San Miguel, Christian Sorongon of New Lucena, and Dennis Superficial of Sta. Barbara. Vice Mayor Malin Cabana of Leon represented Mayor Lito Cajilig who is in the hospital while Sangguniang Bayan Member Jun-Jun Jaen of Leganes represented his grandfather, Mayor Adolfo Jaen.
In taking their oath with NP, the eight mayors effectively left the ruling PDP-Laban, which they joined early this year along with Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. and son third district Rep. Arthur Jr.
Biron and Defensor Jr. have both declared their intentions to run for Iloilo governor in May 2019.
The fourth district congressman has the upper hand in political alliances as Reps. Gorriceta of the second district and Raul Tupas of the fifth district honored their gentlemen’s agreement forged in 2017 to field a common candidate for governor after consultation with their leaders and mayors.
Ironically, Gov. Defensor initiated the talks on the gentlemen’s agreement in March 2017 but he reneged on the commitment majority of the Iloilo mayors endorsed Biron.
Biron said the oath-taking the second district mayors in NP is just the beginning of Nacionalista swearing in more members.
“We hope to hold a bigger gathering by end of this month or first week of September for the whole province of Iloilo. That means that official candidates for mayor down to the councilors in the fifth, fourth, third, second and, hopefully, who knows, in the first district, will be formally introduced,” he added.
Biron said NP is very selective in accepting new members because they require sincere commitment to the party.
“This is no joking matter. It’s not about the numbers but we hope for quality leaders. I even ask for clearance from the national leadership before we accept new members. So we are fortunate to be accepted to the party,” he added.
Biron said he also sought permission from Rep. Arcadio to invite the second district mayors into NP.
“He (Rep. Gorriceta) never prevented our mayors to join us because he knows how NP takes care of its members as a family. NP has a very distinct way of taking care of its family. Just like me, I don’t see you as ordinary political allies but as members of my family.”
Senator Cynthia Villar said NP treats its members with utmost care as because they are one family.
“In NP, we take our party as a family. We consider you as a family. You are not just politicians but family members. We are very close to each other,” Villar said.
Villar said other politicians notice that NP members are very happy because of their closeness and genuine concern for each other.
“This is not just politics. This is family. And I hope we will remain as family, forever,” she said.
Speaking in behalf of his father Rep. Gorriceta and the second district mayors, Mayor Michael Gorriceta of Pavia thanked Villar and Biron for accepting them into NP.
“This is a milestone for Rep. Gorriceta. He is very happy and he turned over the second district mayors to NP because we also need help from the national government. What caught my attention is the fact that NP is family. I have been hearing stories from Cong. Ferj and other NP members and I can feel the sincerity. For us, that is the most important thing, sincerity to fellow public servants and government leaders. We will show to you that we are truly qualified to become part of Nacionalista Party,” Mayor Gorriceta said.