The United Opposition (UNO) is taking a special interest in Cebu, which gave 1.1 million votes to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the 2004 election.
This time, the opposition will field local candidates in 2010, including opposition candidates in Cebu City and in Cebu's 5th district, said former president Joseph Estrada yesterday.
?When FPJ (late movie actor Fernando Poe Jr.) ran in the 2004 election, he was cheated here in Cebu because he did not have local candidates. All the Lakas-Kampi candidates, they cheated for GMA (Arroyo),? he said.
Estrada, however, said he had not decided who to endorse for Cebu City mayor in 2010.
Estrada was asked in the press conference yesterday morning if the opposition would be interested to support Winston Garcia as a mayoral candidate.
?Anything is possible,? Estrada replied.
Last night, Estrada endorsed businessman Jonathan Guardo as congressional candidate for Cebu City south district and former Compostela mayor Gilbert Wagas for a House seat in the 5th district.
He said the UNO's priority was to come up with a local slate since their lack of local candidates was a major factor in the defeat of opposition candidates last 2004 presidential polls.
But during last night's launching of Estrada's commercial with Guardo's Arthro food supplement, Guardo announced that the local opposition would field former mayor Alvin Garcia as its standard bearer in 2010.
?Cebu City politics has been dominated by one party, by one arrogant leader and its so-called recycled robots. And look at what is happening to the city now. Our city has deteriorated so much, from second to none, second to the last,? he said.
About 30 barangay officials from the south district attended Estrada's launching as endorser of Arthro.
Among the barangay captains who attended were Jerry Guardo of Sambag I, Edgar Lauron of San Nicolas, Elmer Abella of Duljo Fatima, Victor Quijano Jr. of Calamba, Eugenio Gabuya of Cogon Pardo, Rechie Sibla of Buot Taup, Romeo Abuno of Pasil Tagunol and Pastor Alcover II of Agsungot.
Staff of Guardo said the 34 barangays in the south were represented by their chairpersons or their councilors.
Estrada merely shrugged off the comment of Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña that Guardo was a quack doctor, a reference to his widely promoted health supplements. He said Guardo was a businessman and not doctor.
When reached for comment, Alvin Garcia said that while the opposition wanted him to run, he would make up his mind in two months.
Alvin said that if his cousin, Government Service Insurance System president and general manager Winston Garcia would run for mayor, he would give way.
He said his cousin has not talked to him about plans for a mayoralty bid.
Garcia said his decision to run for mayor would depend on whether the 2010 polls would be fully automated or not.
The former mayor earlier said he would only run for mayor if the counting of votes would be fully automated so he would not be cheated again like what happened in two previous elections in 2001 and 2004.
Garcia said he also wanted to ?align? with his uncle, Rep. Pablo Garcia of the2nd district and cousins Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and Rep. Pablo John Garcia of the 3rd district in order to have a unified Cebu.
?The first consideration, aside from family, is that we want to have a united Cebu,? he told Cebu Daily News.
?We have been supporting each other although I would like that we would be backing up the same presidential candidate this election.?
Meanwhile, Estrada said UNO was supporting Wagas in the congressional race in the 5th district against incumbent Rep. Ramon ?Red? Durano VI.
Brother, Compostela Mayor Ritchie Wagas will run for reelection under UNO against incumbent Vice Mayor Joel Quiño who is allied with Durano.
Their other opposition candidates will be known later.
Former senator Ernesto Maceda, UNO campaign manager, said selection of local candidates would be tough but they intended to complete it before the Nov. 30 deadline in the filing of the certificate of candidacies.
The target is to field a candidate for governor and to fill up at least 80 percent of the local positions.
But until then, Estrada will continue to visit the different towns and cities in Cebu as part of his Lakbay Pasasalamat and to meet with some mayors.
Estrada arrived in Cebu on Sunday to attend a wedding of a family friend and meet with leaders of Puersa ng Masang Pilipino and Jeep ni Erap. He was with Maceda, Aquilino ?Koko? Pimentel III, Grace Poe and actor Rez Cortes during his fourth visit to Cebu since he was released from detention. Poe is the daughter of the late actor Poe.
The former president called for a press conference yesterday morning, the first he had in recent years before he addressed the students of the University of San Jose Recolletos and met with City Mayors Socrates Fernandez of Talisay and Val Chiong of Naga.
Estrada then attended a dinner hosted by Guardo to launch the former president as Arthro's latest endorser.
Today, Estrada is expected to travel south and meet with Mayors Patricio Barcenas of Carcar and Edsel Galeos of Argao. He will have dinner at the residence of his friend Mariquita Salimbangon-Yeung.
Estrada is scheduled to visit barangay Apas in Cebu City before he leaves Cebu about noon on Wednesday.
Maceda said that Estrada will return on Aug. 8 to act as sponsor to the wedding of Liloan Mayor Duke Frasco and Christina Codilla, daughter of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia.
Estrada will then continue his visits to southern municipalities which may include Barili, Balamban and Toledo City.
?When I was in jail I promised that when I get my freedom, I'll go around the country and thank the people for their continued support and for making my wife, Loi, and son, Jinggoy, win in the senatorial election,? he said.
Still, Estrada did not give a definite answer when asked if he was running for president in the 2010 election.
Maceda said UNO's presidential candidate will be known in the next month or two.
He said the opposition group now has a list of six names from where they would select their presidential candidate.
Their list include Estrada; Senators Manuel Villar, Loren Legarda, Mar Roxas and Chiz Escudero and Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay.
Maceda said they would also select from the same list their candidate for vice president.
Estrada said leaders of UNO were expected to initiate series of discussions with their six presidential candidates.
?If they (the five other potential candidates for president) will not unite, I will definitely run (for president) but if they do unite, we will only support one candidate,? he said.
Estrada was confident that UNO would give the administration camp a good fight in the election despite the merger of the administration parties Lakas and Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi).
Instead of gaining strength from their merger, he added ?all candidates, who are identified with Lakas-Kampi, they will all be wiped out.?
Maceda cited the recent Pulse Asia survey that showed Arroyo receiving a negative rating in Cebu for the first time. Among the factor for the low rating, he added, could be the administration's failure to cushion the impact of the economic crisis.
?I don?t think that Cebu is still Gloria country,? he said.
Governor Garcia, for her part, plans to visit barangay Lahug the next time that she would distribute deeds of sale to barangay residents who occupy Capitol lots and have fully paid for their land.
While she was the details had yet to be drawn out, Garcia said she wanted to ?return the favor? given by first two batches of Lahug residents when they visited Capitol and accepted their deeds of sale from her.
Garcia said she may also visit other Cebu City barangays with 93-1 occupants if barangay officials would agree to her visit.
?This is to return the gesture. Ako na pud ang mo adto sa mga barangay, kana kung welcome ko sa mga kapitan (I will go to the barangays if I am welcome by the barangay captains),? she said.
Lahug barangay captain Mary Ann delos Santos, who was at Garcia's State of the Province Address (SOPA), told the governor that she was welcomed in Lahug where the provincial government donated P5 million for a school building construction that Osmeña refused to fund.
Asked if the visit was a confirmation that brother Winston might run for mayor in Cebu City, the governor replied: ?Basta mo adto ko sa Lahug (I will go to Lahug).?
?Gusto man sad ko mo adto sa Lahug to checkn on the progress of the school building (I want to go to Lahug to check on the progress of the school building),? she said.