Will it be Mar-Chiz in Sorsogon? How about Leni?

Carmela Fonbuena
Will it be Mar-Chiz in Sorsogon? How about Leni?
Even as they raise their hands to commit to support Liberal Party candidates, Sorsogon politicians say they will not abandon Senator Francis Escudero

MANILA, Philippines – The ruling Liberal Party (LP) of Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II secured the support of 7 out of 15 incumbent mayors of Sorsogon, the home province of Senator Francis Escudero.

LP vice chairman Senate President Franklin Drilon led the oath-taking ceremony of local politicians Thursday night, August 27.

Sorsogon, with its 400,000 voters, is seen to be a problem area for LP in 2016 thus the party’s moves to consolidate forces there this early. 

Escudero is expected to recruit Sorsogon politicians to support the possible presidential bid of Senator Grace Poe. He himself is seen as Poe’s likely running mate.

The province’s first district is held by Escudero’s mother Representative Evelina Escudero, who is a member of the Nationalist People’s Coaltion (NPC).

The second district is held by a member of LP but a good friend of Escudero’s, Representative Deogracias Ramos. 

Mar-Chiz? 

LP politicians in the province are saying they will support Escudero should he decide to run for vice president. Thus they told Rappler they will likely go for “Mar-Chiz” for 2016.

What could further complicate matters is another politician from Sorsogon, Leni Robredo, the incumbent representative of Camarines Sur and LP chief for the entire Bicol region.

Robredo is being eyed as Roxas’ possible running mate in 2016. 

When she was asked about LP-Sorsogon politicians going for a Mar-Chiz tandem, Robredo said: “That is not what the agreement is. Mayroon ilan na dating LP na ganun (Some LP old-timers are like that). But not all,” said Robredo. 

Ang pakiusap namin sa kanila, if they cannot abide by party rules magsabi lang (they can tell us). Ang pagasali sa partido voluntary lang, di ba (Joining a party is voluntary)?,” she added. (What we are asking them is that they should say this early if they cannot abide by party rules.)

“If push comes to shove, baka (probably) they will be asked na lang to leave the party,” she said.

Philantropist Loida Nicolas Lewis, who is also from Sorsogon and actively supporting Roxas, acknowledged how 2016 is going to be difficult for the LP members in the province. She was present at the LP headquarters for the oath-taking of the Sorsogon politicians.

“It’s going to be a quandary. It’s going to be a conflict. But I think with the good governance policy of President Noynoy to be followed by Mar Roxas, I think Sorsogon will go with Mar,” she said.

“They might go that (Mar-Chiz) way. I cannot predict. All I’m saying is Mar Roxas will take Sorsogon,” she said.  

Chiz’s friend

Sorsogon’s 2nd District Representative Ramos said he is sticking it out with the party despite his close ties to Escudero. He even brought along several more local politicians to the LP event.

“Probably, we’ll cross party  lines. But definitely Mar will be there as president,” said Ramos, adding that the vice presidential race “is another matter.” 

What if Escudero asks them to support Poe instead? “We are members of the party. It will not look good if I’ll be supporting Poe if she runs. We don’t even know if she’s going to run,” Ramos said. 

Ramos is the leader of LP in the 2nd district. His party mates have been concerned that his friendship with Escudero would prompt him to bolt the party and support the anticipated Poe-Chiz tandem.

LP was relieved on Monday, August 24, when Ramos declared he would support the LP gubernatorial bid of Bobet Lee, the son of graduating governor Raul Lee.

On Thursday, he reaffirmed his commitment to LP along with 2nd district mayors Marniellie Robles of Bulan, Domingo Halum of Bulusan, Emilio Ubaldo of Matnog, and Benito Doma of Prieto Diaz.

Mayors Antonio Alindogan of Juban and Alejandro Gamos of Sta Magdalena, also from the 2nd district, were not present on Thursday’s oath-taking but are expected to stay with LP.

The other mayors are expected to support Vice President Jejomar Binay and his new party United Nationalist Alliance party (UNA).

The governor’s wife, Sorsogon City Mayor Sally Lee, and son Bobet Lee were also swore in on Thursday as new members of LP.

Former Lakas members, the governor and the mayor ran under the opposition UNA ticket in the 2013 elections. She dropped Binay to support Roxas instead.

She’s the only mayor from the 1st district to join LP so far, but she said she is confident the other mayors will join her as soon as they learn that she has declared support for Roxas.

“This is my commitment. I am going to support Mar Roxas. Whether he will win or he will lose, I will be with him,” said Lee.

But it doesn’t mean she will abandon Escudero either. 

“Senator Chiz is from Sorsogon. He’s doing a lot of good things in Sorsogon. We’ll cross the bridge when we get there. I’m supporting Chiz right now because I don’t know who is the vice president of LP,” Lee said.  – Rappler.com

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