Cebu enters 2007 with a bang with the hosting, finally, of the 12th Asean Summit, followed by the usual celebration of the feast of the Sto. Niño (with the Sinulog festivities as an important component). Barring any untoward incident, those events will be immediately followed by the start of the campaign period for the May midterm elections.
The result of the elections will determine the complexion of the island in the next three years. But it is possible Cebu will be getting more of the same considering that Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña and Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia are running for reelection with no strong political rivals still in sight. If they do win, then policies won’t change.
Chances are 2007 will be a Garcia year, that is if the other Garcias, like former governor Pabling and Capitol consultant Pablo John will make good their plan to run and then win. But that is only one interesting point in the province because there is still the move of the political opposition led by former senator John Osmeña to reckon with.
The Martinezes may retain their hold in the fourth district (for the Duranos, it is a given as far as the fifth district is concerned). That will also be true for re-electionist Rep. Nerissa Soon-Ruiz, if she plays her card well in the sixt district. The Yaphas are facing a strong challenge in the third district from the Garcias. Kintanar may lose his hold in the second district.
Rep. Eduardo Gullas will have his hands full fending off the challenge of the Osmeñas, if Mayor Tom makes good his threat to field a candidate for the first district’s congressional seat, but Gullas may yet prevail. Talisay Mayor Socrates Fernandez can win over Tom’s man, Gabriel Leyson, considering the issues stacked against the newcomer.
In this sense, expect the issues that dragged in 2006 to be back in 2007. It is likely, for example, that vigilante-style killings in Cebu City will continue without a change in the leadership at City Hall. The fate of the Sugbuak will be dependent on the performance of the political opposition and of Sonny O, who is running for senator.
Overall, however, prospects are brighter in the local than at the national level where the Arroyo administration is facing a crucial test in the elections. While the elections in Cebu will be disruptive, that will be momentary. In the end we will continue to march forward economically, if not politically, as we always do.
Happy New Year to all!
—Candido O. Wenceslao (I wrote this for the December 29 issue of Sun.Star Cebu)