LUCENA CITY—Newly installed Lucena Mayor Rhoderick Alcala and former Mayor Ramon Talaga Jr. nearly came to blows on Thursday in front of public school teachers.
The two were stopped from actually trading punches by cooler heads.
Witnesses interviewed by the Inquirer said Alcala, who was just installed mayor earlier that day, came invited to the Lucena Teachers and Employees Convention being held at Quezon Convention Center.
He was with his wife and his Liberal Party (LP) councilor candidates.
Tension rose after Talaga and his wife, just ousted Lucena Mayor Barbara Ruby Talaga, who were also invited to the affair, arrived an hour later, said the witnesses, who all asked not to be named for fear of retaliation from both politicians’ groups.
Early in the day, Alcala took his oath as mayor and formally replaced Barbara. Last week, Barbara lost her appeal in the Supreme Court against a ruling that unseated her due to an
Ramon Talaga, a member of the United Nationalist alliance, and Alcala (LP) are now both running for mayor of this city in next year’s elections.
“We all became uneasy,” said one teacher, recalling the tense scene between Ramon and Alcala.
“Both camps tried to be civil despite moves not to bump into each other while table-hopping,” said another.
“But it was obvious that the teachers were having more fun with former Mayor Talaga because he was throwing money for us to grab and sponsoring games with cash prizes,” said one teacher.
Trouble erupted later when Alcala and his wife were dancing together with some teachers. At this juncture, Ramon spoke in the microphone and announced a dance contest for the city’s four school districts.
“While former Mayor Talaga was making the announcement, the band stopped playing which was wrongly interpreted by Mayor Alcala as ordered by his political foe,” said one teacher.
The teacher said Alcala grabbed a microphone and angrily told the Talaga couple to stop interfering in city government affairs because they are no longer in power in the city and that Barbara had not been legally elected.
A still fuming Alcala told Inquirer as he was leaving the convention center on Thursday that he felt insulted when Ramon ordered the music to stop while the teachers and other officials were dancing.
Alcala claimed that Ramon tried to assault him but was prevented by some teachers.
Ramon denied the assault allegation. “Why would I do that in front of the teachers? I only attempted to get his microphone to answer his tirades that my wife was not elected. He was the one who was not elected,” he said by phone yesterday.
Fear of shooting
The teachers said some of them ducked for cover for fear that shooting would erupt between the armed security escorts of both politicians.
Alcala was not on the list of guest speakers at the convention as indicated in the printed program. The listed speakers included Quezon Gov. David Suarez, the Talaga couple and Dr. Aniano Ogayon, city school superintendent.
“The affair was actually an advance Christmas party and farewell by [Barbara] Talaga. It was supposed to be a happy occasion but was dampened by the intrusion of Mayor Alcala and his candidates,” a teacher said.