FASTLANES: Oro politics’ Queen Bee, Bakbak and Klarex

This is not the longest time I’ve been away from Cagayan de Oro in the last 21 years, but I am missing the action there so much that I’ve been repeatedly asking my wife to give me the dates of the Holy Week so we can plan early our vacation there.

Irked, my wife reminded me that it’s me who’s working for a newspaper, and that maybe I could go look for a 2012 calendar because she’s still using the 2011 calendar.

Anyway, from grapevines I have access to, local politics in the prime Northern Mindanao city is starting to take form.

Five months or so ago, like the boys that they are, two top local politicians upped their mudslinging by calling each other names and made kantiaw of their games. One called the other Bakbak, who in turn retaliated by calling the other as Queen Bee.

Queen Bee criticized Bakbak for spending public funds for his favorite game, basketball, to which Bakbak retaliated by saying that he does not mind the criticism in the same manner that he “doesn’t mind Queen Bee playing jackstone.”

Boys are boys, they don’t even change toys. Right? Onli in Kagayan.

I was there when Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar Moreno said he is considering running for the mayoralty of Cagayan de Oro. To me, it was a declaration of candidacy, but the euphemism was needed for legal purposes, as technically, Cagayan de Oro, although physically within Misamis Oriental, is a separate municipal corporation, it being a chartered city.

Moreno’s move is nothing new. Mayor Dongkoy Emano, who is on a fresh term in city hall, was a former governor of Misamis Oriental when he decided to transfer his political career in the City of Golden Friendship. I was there when he filed his cedula at city hall in May of 1997, signalling his entry to city politics.

The only difference between Moreno and Emano’s transfer of political career from the province to the city would be that should Moreno finally decide to file his candidacy in the city, he is coming from a fresh term ending in the province. Emano, although still holding on to office as governor as of January 1998, did not finish what would have been his third term as governor.

Emano was unseated as governor of Misamis Oriental in early 1998 after the Comelec ruled that Ruthie de Lara-Guingona was the rightful winner in the 1995 elections.

It would be interesting to cover when Moreno will secure his cedula in the city. Where and when? Would Carmen Barangay Captain Klarex Uy or Nazareth Kapitana Bebot Rodriguez give us a clue?

A Moreno-Emano tussle in 2013 would be a major political fight.

But Klarex, who lost by only 2,300 votes to Emano in the last election, cannot be discounted as yet. Many said Klarex was cheated and has an active election protest to boot. As I’ve said in a post-election column in May last year, I thought Dongkoy won by outflanking Klarex’s big, noisy but juvenile political machinery in the last minute.

But Klarex should be no pushover. He should be credited for giving Emano a scare in his political life. Losing by a mere 2,300 votes to an opponent used to winning by five digit margins in the city is scary for the veteran politician who breathes Machiavelli 24/7.

A little rewind however would show that his victory against former Vice Mayor Michele Tagarda in 2007 for the city’s first Congressional District was also a close shave. Cheating was not an issue then. It was an upset.

Then some would argue that his landslide victory in Carmen in the last barangay election is proof of his being a political titan.

I beg to disagree; he was never challenged seriously in Carmen. Carmen, while the biggest barangay in terms of population and voting, is not the city; it is not even district 1.

A return to Congress may be better for Klarex, if only to prove he is better than Benjo Benaldo.

But if any credit, Klarex, an erstwhile ally of Alas (as Dongkoy is referred to by his alipores), should be hailed for having the balls to fight Dongkoy toe-to-toe. But for fighting Dongkoy toe-to-toe in the same brand of politics, many see him as not really an alternative and the change many Kagayanon’s wanted in city hall.

In conclusion, this seeming resurgence of the Dongkoy-Klarex rematch is another masterful stroke of a political genius. Coming after Moreno’s announcement of his intention to run, the call for a Dongkoy-Klarex rematch would ease Moreno out of the early match-up equation.

This political stroke is so classic Machiavelli, it divides the opposition composed of Moreno, Rufus Rodriguez and Klarex.

It is simple divide-and-rule that some self-proclaimed political matchmakers are so clueless that the spin is on them.

Oh yes, 2012 is still a distant future, I now imagine sipping coffee or a couple of beers while exchanging banters somewhere in Divisoria sometime next month.

(The writer, a Kagayanon by heart, is now based in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone as a senior editor of the South Asia/Philippine Bureau of an Arabian newspaper. Comments can be sent to [email protected])