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Kusug leader takes another shot at Cebu City mayor’s race; 12 bets in all

First Posted 08:21:00 12/15/2009


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It?s Alvin Garcia after all.

The opposition Kugi Uswag Sugbu (Kusug) yesterday beat the deadline for substitution of candidates for 2010.

But it was Alvin who filed the certificate of candidacy for mayor and not his cousin, Winston Garcia, president of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

Independent candidate Samuel ?Sammy? Darza also withdrew from the mayoralty race yesterday because of a technical disqualification.

It turned out that Darza?s name was no longer in the list of registered voters for failing to cast his vote in the last two consecutive elections.

This leaves a total of 12 candidates for mayor n Cebu City.

Alvin replaced Landolino Bontilao, a former Pit-os barangay councilor, who was fielded as a decoy to meet an earlier Dec. 1 filing deadling.

Alvin?s running mate is Rudy Cabrera, a lawyer and former Cebu City Councilor for 18 years until 1998. He replaced Kusug?s decoy vice mayoralty bet, Jonah John Rodriguez, private secretary of Alvin's son Raymond.

?Anti-climatic,? was how Vice Mayor Michael Rama, standard bearer of Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) viewed the last-minute switch.

He said Kusug wanted to add excitement by fielding decoy candidates ?as if something big is going to happen pero wala diay. Nothing new.?

Mayor Tomas Osmeña said he was expecting Winston, who would be better funded, to run.

?I expected Winston, at least naay kwarta to, but, talawan man to,? he added.

Alvin, 63, showed up at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) north district office past noon in a red polo shirt with his name and the battle cry ? I shall return...?

He was with his running mate, Cabrera, and at least five supporters.

?We are responding to the clamor of the people for a change,? said Alvin, who served as mayor of Cebu City for two terms from 1995 to 2001.

Alvin clarified that he was Kusug's first choice as standard bearer but decided to give way to Winston after his cousin told him that he might run for mayor.

He said Winston was a ?financial man? who was good in fiscal management needed by Cebu City.

Winston gave several reasons for hesitating to run ? unfinished business in GSIS, family priorities, and a Supreme Court decision that could require appointed officials like him to resign if they run for elective office.

Alvin said he received a call from Winston who has decided to stay at GSIS.

If Winston were to run for an elective post, it would be for a position higher than city mayor, he told his cousin. After that, Kusug went ahead with its original plan to field Alvin for mayor.

?We waited for him (Winston) because we feel he could be a catalyst in solving the problem of Cebu City,? Alvin added.

Son Raymond said results of a survey by an independent group put Alvin Garcia ahead of Rama by 20 points at 56.7 percent as against 34.4 percent.

Raymond is running for councilor in the Cebu City?s north district.

He said Georgia got 2.3 percent.

Mayor Osmeña shrugged off the report, saying Kusug would always boast of behind ahead in a survey but end up losing the election.

?It's the people we have to fear not them. It's the people who will decide,? said the mayor.

?He (Alvin) is a multiple loser, all of them are. ?

To this Alvin retorted: ?I'd rather be an honest loser than a manipulated and cheated winner.?

Alvin said the opposition tried to unite but he and two other mayoral candidates ?former senator John Henry Osmeña and Georgia Osmeña failed to reach an understanding. He said Sonny was more accommodating than Georgia.

Georgia welcomed the newest challenger.

?The more the merrier,? she said in an interview over radio dyAB.

She said she declined the offer of Kusug to close ranks behind a united opposition because ?they asked for so many demands.? She did not elaborate.

Cabrera, 71, is seeking the vice mayorship after serving as councilor for Cebu City from 1980 to 1998.

?I authored the real estate tax code and the omnibus tax ordinance of Cebu City, the two ordinances generated so much in Cebu,? he said.

At first, his family didn?t want him to return to politics.

?I told them I am called to service, so you have to make a little sacrifice,? he said.

Cabrera , a practicing lawyer for 45 years, said he was an experienced legislator with ?competence and integrity.?

The BO-PK is supporting the Liberal Party but Kusug has yet to decide if it will endorse a presidential candidate or coalese with a national party.

?Wa pa mo gitutukan nga national party because what we focus now is the betterment of our city,? Alvin said.

Alvin, 63, served as mayor in Cebu City for two terms until 2001. He and Osmeña used to be allies but parted ways in Garcia's second term in office.

In 2001 and 2004, they both ran for mayor. Osmena won.

Cabrera maintained that they were cheated in the 2001 elections.

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