PHVOTE 2013

LOCAL RACES: Issues and dynamics in provinces, towns, and cities in The Visayas

Will Danding keep hold on Negros?

Rappler.com
Posted on 05/11/2013 2:42 AM  | Updated 05/11/2013 11:25 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Business man Danding Cojuangco's hold on Negros Occidental politics is being challenged.

Carmela Fonbuena reports.

Negros Occidental is the Philippines’ sugar capital.

It is home to rich hacienderos who export sugar to Europe and the United States.

These hacienderos also control local politics under the leadership of outsider turned kingmaker Danding Cojuangco.

VICE-GOV LIM-AO ALVAREZ:

All politicians here in Negros, he treats us very fairly. He doesn’t ask for any favor. What he wants is for the good of the province. I think everybody likes him.

Elections used to be boring in Negros.

Government positions were decided not so much by the ballot, but in meetings of Danding’s party, the United Negros Alliance or UNA.

But in an unexpected twist of events, Governor Freddie Marañon decides to seek re-election, in defiance of Danding who had already anointed Vice Gov Lim-ao Alvarez as gubernatorial candidate.

VICE-GOV LIM-AO ALVAREZ:

The problem started when governor Maranon changed his mind because he promised that he is not running anymore.

GOV FREDDIE MARAÑON:

Only fools don’t change their mind. 19 mayors persuaded me to run.

UNA breaks apart and for the first time in history, candidates are facing serious opponents.

Allies are fighting former allies. Friends are fighting friends. Negros politics is changed.

The split puts on the line Danding’s clout as political kingmaker of the province-- which fuels his influence in national politics.
Negros Occidental’s 1.6 million voters – the country’s 4th biggest voting province – is a bargaining chip he can offer national politicians.

VICE-GOV LIM-AO ALVAREZ

Even senators, they are even to the point of begging for the endorsement of the Ambassador. When you’re in local politics, here in Negros I think it’s only Ambassador Cojuangco who matters.

Marañon says he has grown his own political network, capable of defeating his former patron’s machinery.

GOV FREDDIE MARAÑON

It’s a big challenge. It’s an uphill battle. But it’s the people that support me – the grassroots, the religious sector, the fisher folks, the farmers. Those that benefitted from my program.

The elections here is more than just a battle between two former allies now at each other’s throats.

It is a test of Danding Cojuangco’s grip on this vote-rich province. Carmela Fonbuena, Rappler, Negros Occidental. - Rappler.com


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