“In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
NEW YORK CITY – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte had in mind the late former Iloilo second district Rep. Pascual “Pascualing” or “Pat” Espinosa when he received Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-installed Iloilo City Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa in Malacañang on Nov 22, 2017.
The President was reportedly curious if Joe III was related to Muelle (pronounced as Mool-ye) Loney’s famous hero, Rep. Espinosa, known in history as the “Father of the Magna Carta Law of Labor.”
Duterte later learned that Mayor Joe III, a lawyer like him, was Rep. Espinosa’s nephew.
The Iloilo City mayor, installed on Oct 30 when Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog was haphazardly ordered dismissed by the Ombudsman, is the son of Jose Jr. or “Moor,” Rep. Espinosa’s younger brother.
Rep. Espinosa’s son is Sigma Rhoan lawyer Pascual “Juni” Espinosa Jr., who is now helping President Duterte’s federalism movement in Iloilo City.
Mayor Joe III has invited the President to grace the Dinagyang Festival in January 2018.
Mayor Joe III did not tell the President that many Ilonggos were hurt when he tagged Iloilo City as “the most shabulized” and falsely accused Mayor Mabilog as a “narco-politician” in the latter’s various speeches. He even assured the President of a “warm” welcome and support from Ilonggos should he visit two months from now.
“They (Duterte and Joe III) seemed to have hit it off and their body language showed that their feelings were mutual,” reported a sports executive, who refused to be named as he was not allowed to speak on behalf of the city mayor.
The Duterte-Joe III Malacañang meeting received mixed reactions from both their political allies and enemies.
Iloilo City Rep. Jerry Treñas, who abandoned the Liberal Party (LP) and brought Mayor Joe III and several city councilors to the ruling PDP-Laban, reportedly helped arrange Mayor Joe III’s Malacañang visit.
Iloilo City politics used to be dominated by the Treñas-Mabilog-Joe III triumvirate.
Mayor Mabilog, the triumvirate’s missing link, became Duterte’s arch enemy, while Rep. Treñas and Mayor Joe III, et al are now “sleeping with the enemy.”
Although some of those identified with the Duterte administration and former political enemies of Rep. Treñas and Mayor Joe III in Iloilo City were reportedly nervous when they learned about the Duterte-Joe III meeting, they realized that they needed to maintain an open mind and were not supposed to show signs of insecurity.
They feared that if the relationship between President Duterte and Mayor Joe III would blossom, the President might endorse Mayor Joe III when he runs for city mayor in 2019 under the principle of “equity of the incumbent.”
Supporters of former Zambales Rep. Pacita Gonzalez, Iloilo City PDP Laban chair, and Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon, Mr. Duterte’s “point man” in Iloilo City, are still hoping, of course, that the President would narrow down his choices only between Gonzalez and Ganzon, and no one else.
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