WHO’S running for what office and against whom? As of now we have no answer to these questions.
The political rigodon is still going on and until the music stops, we will not know who’s pitted against this or that. The rigodon de honor is a Spanish period elegant and formal dance of changing partners, actually an imitation from Europe brought to the Philippines by Filipinos in search of a formal dance they could call their own. In the dance, there is plenty of bowing and curtsying, touching of hands but not holding on or embracing as the modern dance. The political situation in Negros is clearly a rigodon performed preparatory to elections, but sadly often minus the honor or elegance.
The so-called “unity talks” between the two political forces in Occidental Negros have been going on since last year but each time the result is zero. It seems nobody is giving in or perhaps the concessions or the sharing of the victory spoils are not enough.
The two parties, United Negros Alliance (UNeGa) and Love Negros, are the only (so far) contending forces for power in the province. The first is headed by incumbent Governor Alfredo Marañon, Jr. while the other is led by 3 rd District Congressman Alfredo Benitez. Marañon and Benitez are bowing out since they have completed their 9-years term in office. The positions they leave vacant is up for grabs but these two retain heavy clout as to practically determine who the best bet is.
The 3 rd district is out of the contention since Benitez has anointed a member of his family to succeed him, but not so with Marañon whose power base is the 2 nd Congressional District where he retains control with his son, Alfredo III, the Mayor of Sagay City who was also former congressman of that district.
The bone of contention is the gubernatorial post. Vice Governor Eugenio Lacson has his eyes for the post, in fact, even in the 2016 election. But his ambition can be thwarted by a clash with former 4 th
District Congressman Jeffry Ferrer who lost to Lacson for vice governor in the 2016 contest. Ferrer was Marañon’s running mate. The margin between Lacson and Ferrer was small. If the two clashed again, will Ferrer be able to overcome Lacson in a new playing field?
The ongoing parley had been stalled because of the talks that Benitez would run for governor; that would leave Lacson on the lurch. This is the reason that there are suggestions for Benitez to run for the Senate and pave the way for Lacson. To sugarcoat the proposal, Marañon pledged to support Benitez’s senatorial bid. That, however, does not mean the way is open for Lacson unchallenged walk to the Capitol. That will just remove a problem for Marañon who is reportedly inclined to support Ferrer.
To apparently soften Marañon and entice him to support Lacson, the name of Mayor Marañon III is bruited about to be Lacson’s running mate. This looks fine except that it is an imbalanced representation in the Capitol in favor of northern Negros. Lacson’s base is San Carlos City where he was once a long term mayor. On the other hand, a Ferrer-Marañon tandem is balanced. The question is really whether the younger Marañon is interested in a provincial post although if the situation were clearly favorable, he might be inclined to try his political acumen. After all the family name is well- known since the time of his late uncle and well-loved, Governor Joseph Marañon. Competence-wise he has it in full also.
If the tandem in the “united” political team favors the north, it is possible a third party will rise from the middle of the province with a “claimed” support from all over. The third party can be a spoiler and make the May 2019 election a hell of a fight.
The unity of UNeGa and Love Negros, has taken so long that there is a perception that they cannot agree at all. Indeed the restraining elements appear formidable although not insurmountable. On the other hand, even if the balance favored the north and the third party cannot mobilize enough, the Lacson-Marañon team can surmount the issue against it. However, let’s wait awhile.