By: Manuel “Boy” Mejorada
FRANKLY, I wasn’t so optimistic about the winning chances of Tobias-Fornier SB member Julius Cezar Tajalangit in his re-election bid for the presidency of the Philippine Councilors League-Antique Chapter held last Friday, Sept. 20.
With his rival, former Tobias-Fornier municipal mayor and incumbent SB member Orchid Fornier enjoying the full support of the “Tres Marias” of Antique politics, calling the encounter an “uphill climb” was an understatement. It was more like climbing a 100-meter cliff wall with no equipment, just with his bare hands and feet.
That’s because the “Tres Marias” – incumbent Congresswoman and former Senator Loren Legarda, incumbent Governor Rhodora Cadiao and former Governor Sally Zaldivar-Perez – wield tremendous power, what with the government resources at their disposal.
Just a few days before election day, Cadiao convened a meeting of councilors from 17 out of 18 municipalities. The SB members of Tobias-Fornier were not invited. That was to prevent Tajanlangit from listening to what was on the agenda. Cadiao virtually offered the sun and the moon to the councilors in exchange for their votes in favor of the 70-year old Fornier.
But then, political power is no match to God’s intervention. Tajanlangit acknowledged that the odds were stacked overwhelmingly in favor of his opponent. Knowing how politicians work in situations like this, I am certain the “Tres Marias” exerted every possible means to secure the votes of the councilors. This is the reason why Cadiao boasted two days before the elections that her group was assured of 146 votes. Only 91 votes were needed to claim victory.
The “Tres Marias” underestimated the power of faith. Tajanlangit knew that no amount of money was going to swing votes in his favor. He had to win the confidence of his colleagues. And his performance during the last three years that he was PCL president and ex-oficio board member was sterling, to say the least.
Tajanlangit prayed hard that this would become the deciding factor among his colleagues.
Indeed, the PCL members already saw his leadership qualities, and quietly, they just sat through the caucuses, never giving a hint on what was on their minds. They wore poker faces after that meeting last Monday, giving the “Tres Marias” no reason to suspect that their so-called might and power was no match to principle.
On Friday, when the canvassing of ballots started, Fornier watched in horror as the votes kept piling up in favor of Tajanlangit. The landslide victory that had been promised by the “Tres Marias” didn’t materialize. The name “Tajanlangit” was on the ballot for President. Midway into the canvassing, Tajanlangit had already amassed a huge lead that his supporters already declared victory.
A total of 177 PCL members were present. When the last ballot was read, Tajanlangit had obtained 117 votes. Fornier had only 60.
It was a sledgehammer blow to the pride of the “Tres Marias.” Tajanlangit had zero political backing. The entire political leadership of Antique was thrown against him.
In their arrogance, the “Tres Marias” forgot the Biblical battle between David and Goliath. They represented Goliath. In this age of political prostitution, they never reckoned that SB members of Antique still valued their principles. This is a moment of pride for the PCL of Antique.
Congratulations, PCL President Nonoy!