Politics a la carte

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    IF THE elections were held today, who do you think – feel too – would win?

    No structured survey there but a randomly popped question snapping top-of-mind response. With the requisite “Why?” to qualify.

    No simple amusement too to liven up the luncheon tendered last week by comebacking Congressman Francis “Blueboy” Nepomuceno at the family’s Oasis Hotel for the Society of Pampanga Columnists and media friends.

    All seriousness – to the edification of Mister Blue – were the opinion-shapers and –shakers in their responses which – true to form – went here, there, everywhere but not nowhere.

    Pampanga. Everyone conceding now: But for direct divine intervention – of God Herself descending from Her heavenly perch to lift the dispensation-seeking priest – Eddie Panlilio is consigned to be buried in an even bigger avalanche by incumbent Gov. Lilia Pineda.  Ninety percent to 10 percent, the surveys say.

    Short of that, a deus ex machina rising out of the PCOS machines, interjected I.

    Angeles City. Neck-to-neck battle between incumbent Mayor Ed Pamintuan and Cong. Tarzan Lazatin. Each having solid blocks neither one can smash. Tipping point to be weighted not so much by the as-yet unpurchased commodified vote, as by the decisive Iglesia bloc.

    “Tarzan!” cried the gourmand Macky Pangan, claiming the INC “always” voted for the Cong.

    “EdPam!” riposted Ashley Manabat, opining the “generational transition” at the INC hierarchy will most likely impact in its choice of candidates.

    Mabalacat City. No contest, all agreed. Mayor Boking Morales well assured of his umpteenth term, and still counting. Credit that to cityhood.   

    City of San Fernando. Too close to call.

    Noted Ram Mercado: Three term-mayor and one-term congressman Dr. Rey Aquino is no push-over.

    Un-fatigued in close-quarters campaign – at this early, the former PhilHealth boss even looks refreshed rather than drained from his house-to-house flesh-pressing with his team.

    Peter Alagos, matter-of- factly: VM Edwin Santiago has the full resources of city hall to backstop him. Plus the Kambilan machinery. And of course, Mayor Oscar Rodriguez.

    Ashley, not so sarcastically: Yeah, the consuming hatred of the city market vendors for Mayor Oca will be unleashed on EdSa, being his chosen successor.               

    Me, trying my darndest to be objective: The city mayorship is a referendum on the performance of Mayor Oca.

    A vindication, aye, an affirmation of all the honors given the city, If EdSa wins. A damnation, aye, a negation of those recognitions, if Doc Rey triumphs. After all, wasn’t the Doc so demonized by the Rodriguez administration that he looked to have outdevilled Beelzebub himself?

    Macky: Ah, as they say, the devil is in the details.

    Third District. The once seemingly unbridgeable chasm separating Cong. Dong Gonzales from Mayor Oca has started to close to a single-digit percentage point.

    With equally easy access to the rivals – to Oca’s office and Dong’s hearth – Macky could not make heads or tails out of who’s tailing whom now, thus reducing his arguments to whoever of the two is the more generous giver, especially this Christmas.

    Ram’s conviction that Dong is still it – “with a little to spare” – is unflagging.

    Ashley is more data-istic: “Cong Dong maintains a commanding lead in three surveys. His own survey never failed him. Not in his past forays, not in this one.”

    Asked I: So how do you factor in the publicly acknowledged “all-out” support of the Pinedas for Oca?

    The “militant” vote and its influence on the ground, especially under it? I don’t think these are ever reflected in opinion polls.

    Bacolor. Rough, uphill is the road back to the town hall for former Mayor Buddy Dungca, with Mayor Jomar Hizon having established his claim to the mayorship not simply by proprietary rights – his family spending for the expansion of the municipal hall, but by implementing impact projects in the barangays.

    No sheer partisanship borne out of a daily dose of tapa and tocino for Macky there, but “believable” assessment of politics in Pampanga’s Athens.

    And then – Macky intimated – there’s Hizon matriarch Dona Lolita, herself running in tandem with her son, considering the electoral contest as a matter of pride. Think of Pampanga’s Best millions factored here.

    Me: Yes. Pride is priceless when most prized.

    Ashley: No. Pride precedes the fall.

    First District. Blueboy has a Palooka for an opponent in Vice Gov. Yeng Guiao.

    Arnel San Pedro reducing the champion Coach to a boxing patsy there.

    Ram: The City of Angeles will always go for its own. Even if Blueboy is avalanched in Mabalacat and Magalang – which is most unlikely, having served those towns during his House incumbency – the Angeles vote is much too much overwhelming.        

    Deng Pangilinan: Guiao will definitely lose, and lose heavily, in Mabalacat.

    Me: With sure-winner Boking supporting him, how can Guiao lose?

    Deng: I said it once. I say it now. And I will say it again and again and again: Guiao will lose miserably in the first district.

    Ashley: Guiao is not even sure of beating Blueboy in his hometown of Magalang. In some spirited libations, I heard folk there saying of Guiao: ‘anti ya mong paksing alang laya.”  Whatever that means.

    It was then that Ram dubbed the Blueboy-hosted luncheon “victory party in December, in advance of Christmas in May.”    

    And a good time was had by all.  

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