Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mayors assail Roxas

By Christine F. Herrera

 Pangasinan mayors belonging to the Nationalist People’s Coalition have rebuffed President Aquino and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas after the latter threatened them with “lifestyle check,” a move that lent credence to the growing cracks in the LP-led coalition.
 At a meeting over the weekend, Roxas told the mayors the lifestyle check would come should the vote-rich Pangasinan fail to deliver votes for the ruling Liberal Party’s Team Pnoy and gubernatorial bet Mayor Hernani Braganza, according to the mayors. “Mar Roxas would do to us what the ruling Liberal Party did to Governor Amado Espino. Who is he trying to scare? Who is he trying to impress?” the mayors said. Pangasinan, which has 1.8 million registered voters, is supposed to be “sona libre” but the high-handed handling of the party issues does not speak well of the arrangement.
 Espino is the provincial chairman of the NPC while Braganza is the provincial chairman (The provincial chairman of LP in Pangasinan is former governor Victor Agbayani. Braganza is the LP chairman in Alaminos City where is the incumbent mayor - Administrator) of the LP.
 The mayors, who requested anonymity, described Roxas’ hard-sell approach to make Braganza win as “desperate moves” and violative of the Zona Libre (free zone) principle.
 They also complained that Roxas, LP campaign manager Senator Franklin Drilon and Braganza deliberately tried to make the President avoid meeting Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino when the governor and 18 mayors met the chief executive at the Lingayen airport. “When the President’s chopper landed, the chopper was parked very far from the usual landing area, where the governor and his entourage were waiting. There was already a car waiting the President to transport him to Urdaneta,” the mayor said.
 However, the mayor said, the President saw his cousin, former Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco, who was with Espino, and so the President walked to them and shook their hands. “Mar Roxas, Drilon and Braganza did not want the President to even shake hands with Espino. They want Braganza to be seen with the President. But Espino was there as governor welcoming the President to his province,” one of the mayors said.
 The 18 mayors, who were outside of the airport’s hangar, failed to see the President, the source said. From Lingayen airport, the President went straight to Urdaneta, where he met with 28 other mayors belonging to the NPC, the source said.
 In the whole of Pangasinan, the NPC has 38 of the 42 incumbent mayors.

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