“Look around. There are no enemies here. There’s just good, old-fashioned rivalry.” BOB WELLS
By Alex P. Vidal
The Garin political dynasty led by its patriarch, Oscar Sr., drew first blood in their seemingly deteriorating tie-up with Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr., when they defied the governor in the recent election of the Philippine Councilors League (PCL)-Iloilo Chapter.
While Defensor went all-out for the winner, Paulino Parian of Janiuay, the Garins reportedly backed Paolo Guanco of Pototan logistically and otherwise. Parian edged Guanco, 206 to 203 or only by three votes.
To add gasoline to conflagration, Rep. Richard Jr. blamed Defensor for not giving the clan “usual courtesy on the matter.” The young Garin rued in a Daily Guardian report dated August 15, 2013 that “We (the Garins) also sacrificed for him (Defensor).” They were not aware, the young Garin claimed, that Defensor would field Parian in the eleventh hour when they thought all the while it was Guanco whom the coalition had agreed to support. Both Parian and Guanco are LP bets.
Although it was Garin Jr. who did most of the PCL post mortem sermon on Defensor in media recently while Garin Sr. and the rest of the clan appeared reluctant to release their spleen, any hard-line political statement from one clan member is seen as the clan’s “official” statement.
We can’t blame the Garins if they want to wrest control of top executive positions in the provincial hierarchy. PCL, like the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP)-Iloilo Chapter, is a major organization with more or less 500 members province-wide.
If another Garin, Guimbal Mayor Christine, will capture the LMP presidency in another election scheduled soon, the most powerful political clan in the first district of Iloilo will be a cinch away to catapult Oscar Sr. into the gubernatorial seat in 2016.
The Garins have tasted power in almost all the elected and important appointed offices, except the office of the governor. They have been unbeatable in the congressional and provincial board tussles. They have awesome dominions over various municipal government units. Garin Jr. himself had served as vice governor. They have been everywhere–in the Philippine Coconut Authority, Department of Health, House sectoral reprentation, to name only a few. To capture capitol in 2016 would be the icing on the cake.
But along the way they face major roadblocks. Mayor Garin’s coronation as LMP chief to replace outgoing president, Anilao Mayor Maria Theresa “Matet” Debuque, is now in peril. Defensor, unhappy over the recent PCL tumult, is poised to supporting either Mina Mayor Rey Grabato or Barotac Viejo Mayor Niel “Beng” Tupas III, son of former governor Niel Tupas Sr.
The LMP is the biggest organization in the local government in terms of power and influence. In any tight rivalry for governor during the elections, LMP plays a pivotal role. After failing to bag the PCL throne, the Garins can’t afford to kiss goodbye the LMP presidency. The recent PCL fracas should serve as the barometer of how tremendous is the influence they wield on municipal officials.
“Angering” Defensor at this early or three years away from the next local elections should be the Garins’ last option.
If the Tupases, perhaps the strongest political clan in the entire province today, will seize the LMP presidency and preserve their cordial relationship with Defensor owing to their strong ties in the Liberal Party (LP), Oscar “Oca” Garin Sr. would be hard-pressed to win the gubernatorial post in 2016. Vice Governor Raul “Buboy” Tupas could be a dark horse and give the senior Garin a nightmare.
The grapevine says it is not wise to bang heads with the incumbent governor over sensitive political issues and major undertakings at this early if the Garins want to breeze their way smoothly to capitol.
On the other hand, as a matter of political strategy and survival, they should start distancing themselves albeit slowly from the capitol and cultivate their own political garden. After all, there are no permanent friends in politics; only permanent interests.