Saturday, January 20, 2007

The disappearing of local govt executives

National politics very rarely encroach on local politics. This is partly the reason why despite the unpalatability of the present national administration, there will be no candidates running against it in many provinces come May 2007.

In the rare instances when politics in the national level invade the local, it is usually to hunt down the local executives through the long arm of the law. When national and local officials face off, not even years of carefully nurtured patronage can save the local government executive (e.g. Governor Remulla's ignominious fall in 1995 in the hands of FVR's hatchet man, Epimaco Velasco).

Only the most thickheaded will believe that the recent spate in the dismissal and suspension of local government executives had nothing to do with national politics. It had everything to do with it. Take the case of Iloilo. The administration's anemic senatorial ticket will need all the votes it can get in May. Cebu can be relied upon to deliver once again. The administration's political machinery, given Ilonggo Secretary Gonzales's presence in the Arroyo Cabinet, is also strong in Iloilo, but the combined forces of Governor Tupas and Senator Drilon effectively neutralize Gonzales's sway in the province.

By removing Governor Tupas and busying him with legal drudgery , the field is now clear for Secretary Gonzales to do mano a mano with that other big shot in the province, Senator Drilon, and persuade his constituents to go for the administration's senatorial ticket. Without the Ombudsman's case against him, Governor Tupas is simply too strong for anybody (including Gonzales and one-time Iloilo gubernatorial hopeful Edu Manzano) to take on. But now that he has been hauled to court, the gubernatorial race, as Iloilo City Boy points out, has suddenly become wide open.