Not a walk in the park for Pineda, Panlilio for 3rd battle in Pampanga
Reelectionist Gov. Lilia Pineda and former Gov. Eddie Panlilio both admit that their third battle for the highest local elective post in Pampanga this year will not be a walk in the park.
“As a Catholic, I have high respect for members of the clergy. Among Ed (Panlilio) was a priest and I know that he also wants to serve the Kapampangan. And I am not certain if the Kapampangan want me back to the capitol. It will be up to them to decide,” Pineda says.
Pineda, 62, has been in politics for 30 years now. She was mayor of Lubao town for three terms and also served as provincial board member.
Panlilio, a Catholic priest whose priestly faculties were suspended when he entered politics, defeated Pineda and then reelectionist Gov. Mark Lapid in the 2007 election.
He served as governor from 2007 to 2010. But three months before the 2010 elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) second division declared Pineda winner in the gubernatorial race after the revision of ballots showed that she obtained 190,729 votes against Panlilio’s 188,718.
The Comelec ordered Panlilio to vacate the governor’s office and allow Pineda to take over the capitol.
But Pineda did not assume the post. She said she had made her point—that she won in the 2007 gubernatorial election—and that forcibly ejecting Panlilio from the capitol could only result in violence and further division among the Kapampangan. In the 2010 election, Pineda won by a margin of some 246,000 votes.
In this year’s election, Pineda enjoys the support of all the reelectionist mayors of the 19 Pampanga towns and Mabalacat City, or their “chosen heirs,” under her local political party, the Kambilan. Most of the three-term local officials who seek other positions are running under Kambilan. Only the City of San Fernando, the capital city, has no Kambilan candidate.
Panlilio, on the other hand, admits that he has no support from local officials. But he is being supported by President Aquino and the Liberal Party.
“It is hard because Pineda is moneyed and she is being supported by almost all local officials. There are even several towns where those running against one another for mayor and vice mayor both support her. Examples are my hometown of Minalin, Sto. Tomas and Mabalacat, he says.
“But the other side of the coin is that the President is supporting me and he asked me to run for governor. So the situation now is different from that in 2010,” he adds.
Pineda is known to be an ally and close friend of former President Macapagal-Arroyo, who is running for reelection as representative of the province’s second district. Arroyo still enjoys the support of her cabalen (province mates), many of whom believe that she is innocent of the graft and plunder charges filed against her by the Aquino administration.
But for Pineda, her closeness to Arroyo is not a factor in her reelection bid. In the local level, she says it is not a question of alliance or closeness with national politicians.
“In local politics, that has no significance because you serve the people directly and they can see what you do. It has nothing to do with my closeness to former President Arroyo. She, as the former president and congresswoman of her district, implemented her own projects for her constituents. As for myself, I also implemented my own projects. What is important is whether the promises you made during the campaign have been realized or not,” she says.
Panlilio says his campaign would center on educating the people about “jueteng politics,” referring to his rival’s husband, suspected jueteng financier Rodolfo “Bong” Pineda, who was once investigated by the Senate for his alleged involvement in the illegal numbers game.
“We will also educate the people about political dynasty-in-the-making. She (Pineda) is running tandem with her son (former Lubao Mayor Dennis Pineda), and this served as a bad precedent to others in the municipal level. In Bacolor, for instance, the mayor’s running mate is his mother. In Sto. Tomas, the husband is running for mayor and his wife for vice mayor,” he said.
Pineda said with her son by her side, she would better provide the services needed by the Kapampangan.
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