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Fuerza Zamboanga is not a viable party

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A month after the filing of the Certificates of Candidacy, the battle lines have already been drawn. In Zamboanga City it is going to be a three cornered fight. Or is it a three cornered fight?

On one side is the combined forces of Mayor Celso Lobregat’s local LDP, Adelante Zamboanga and Liberal Party (LP). Mayor Lobregat is fielding a line-up composed mostly of incumbent city officials and a few personalities who are not really new to politics. The party is financially capable and as proven in past elections, they are well gifted in election operations and mobilization. They are able to reach and exert their influence in the farthest barrios of the City. LDP, Liberal and Adelante Zamboanga have proven that they can generate votes and they are serious contenders.

On another side is the UNA Party of former congressman Romeo “Nonong” Jalosjos. It is not unknown to all and sundry that Jalosjos is a political kingpin who effectively controls two provinces (Zamboanga Del Norte and Sibugay) and several congressmen who are either his relatives or close allies. He is running with Mercy Arquiza, Mannix Dalipe and Crisanto Dela Cruz, all of whom are experienced in the political arena and who have proven in past elections that they have solid votes and followings in the City. The council slate of the UNA party is composed of both experienced and new candidates. This group is probably the most prepared for the upcoming elections. Reportedly, the ZTZ group of the UNA party already has more than 200,000 members. Their party lieutenants are already going all around Zamboanga City to obtain the commitments of barangay officials, purok leaders and community elders. The group of Jalosjos appears to be the most well financed of the contenders, and judging by the results of Jalosjos leadership in elections elsewhere, the UNA team is not one to be trifled with.

Then there is the Fuerza Zamboanga team of Congressman Erbie Fabian. While the party has a potent District 2 congressional candidate in incumbent Councilor Lilia Nuno, the fortunes of the Fuerza Zamboanga end there. The political party of Fabian the Nacionalista Party, is now in alliance with the Liberal Party of Beng Climaco, who, according to Mayor Lobregat, Fabian’s own former ally, is more winnable than Fabian. No doubt the team has some few good men in their still incomplete line-up, but except for Atty. Mel Sadain who is an incumbent councilor, most are not what can be regarded as serious political contenders. They are either unknown to the public or are not known in the realm of politics. In order to be taken seriously as a candidate, one needs to show that the candidacy is viable. Unfortunately, this cannot be said of most of the Fuerza candidates. Indeed many of them admit that they are only running because they are personal friends of Cong. Erbie Fabian. This seems to be the common thread in the Fuerza team – personal relationship with Cong. Fabian. Short of saying, the candidates would not have otherwise run if they were not personally approached by Cong. Fabian. The mistake of the Fuerza Team is that they openly admit to this fact. It sends a wrong signal about their loyalties. Once elected, whose interest will they serve? the City’s or Fabian’s?

Then there is the matter of political machinery. Just as a car needs gasoline, a political machinery needs financing in order to run. The Fuerza Zamboanga group are quick to admit they have almost none (“very limited” as they put it). Allegedly, the running joke in the group is that to be qualified to run under the group (aside from friendship with Fabian) one must NOT have money for the political exercise. While this presents the image of a humble group, if true (since Fabian may just be the most over exposed government official in the city with his face plastered everywhere and his voice heard over almost all media outfits), this is a serious hindrance to political success. When combined with the fact that Fabian left the LDP of Mayor Lobregat because of alleged poor survey results (which has been presumed accurate given Mayor Celso’s reputation as a micro manager and stickler for details), the reasonable conclusion is that Fabian himself will not be able to mount a serious challenge against Cong. Beng Climaco and former Cong. Romeo Jalosjos.

From where this author stands, it really looks like the fight will definitely be between the forces of UNA and Liberal-LDP-Adelante Zamboanga. This will mirror the fight in the national elections.

It will be a two-cornered fight after all.

By Ernesto Bernardo




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