Garins unwelcome, say LP Iloilo leaders

From the day President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III assumed office, a political clan in Iloilo province has kept busy trying to build bridges to get themselves admitted into the new ruling party, the Liberal Party.

This “never-say-die” effort by the family of Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) administrator Oscar C. Garin Sr. was witnessed on national TV last July 26 when President Aquino delivered his first State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) before the joint session of Congress. The entire nation saw 1st district Rep. Janette L. Garin, who was part of the reception party that accompanied President Aquino from his holding area, literally stuck to him like a leech as he made his way to the podium.  She monopolized the President’s ears as the party walked across the hall, and it’s easy to surmise what it was Rep. Garin was trying to tell him.

Acceptance to the party in power has always been a goal relentlessly pursued by the Garins. Shifting party affiliations is so easy for them as changing clothes every day.

But local LP leaders have asserted their right to first-refusal and appealed to the national leadership to reject any proposal to admit the Garins, particularly PCA head Oscar Sr. and Rep. Janette, as members. In a manifesto signed by the LP provincial directorate headed by former Gov. Niel Tupas Sr., the local LP leaders made it clear they consider the Garins unwelcome to the party because it would go against the grain of its own core values and ideals.

The Garins, local LP leaders said, are not trustworthy allies who jump from one party to another, depending on who is in power. They rejected the “politics of money” to which PCA head Oscar Garin Sr. has become known for and his involvement in alleged cheating as demonstrated by the “flat zero” result obtained by the President’s own mother, the late President Corazon C. Aquino, in Guimbal town during the February 1986 snap presidential elections. At the time, San Joaquin mayor Ninfa S. Garin, wife of the PCA administrator, was mayor of Guimbal.

Presently, the elder Garin is clinging to his position as PCA administrator despite his having been named to the position by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Party sources say his daughter-in-law is pursuing every avenue to ingratiate themselves to the new administration that won on the battlecry, “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” This core value would be violated once the party allows the Garins to join, the Iloilo LP leaders complained.

During the last elections, the Garin clan openly supported the candidacy of Lakas-Kampi standard bearer Gilberto Teodoro while running a shadow organization to support Manny Villar of the Nacionalista Party. Three days before the elections, when it became clear that then Liberal Party presidential bet Noynoy Aquino was headed for a landslide victory, the Garins put up his name as their candidate of choice.

The treachery of patriach Oscar Garin Sr. is also a major reason the local LP is against his family’s admission into the party. Garin had persuaded the Tupases not to put up a congressional candidate in the 1st district with the promise that he will not support Lakas candidate Arthur Defensor Sr., who got Oscar Richard Garin Jr. as vice gubernatorial candidate. “You have to believe me,” Oscar Garin Sr. told a family gathering of the Tupases. “I will not break my word.” Several times during the campaign, Garin phoned LP gubernatorial candidate Raul “Boboy” Tupas to reassure the latter about his “word of honor”. The younger Tupas was certain to win in his district, Garin said. Jjust 10 days before the elections, Garin even told Boboy Tupas that “it’s just a matter of days, and you’ll be Governor of Iloilo.”

However, on election day, Garin gave marching orders to his machinery to defeat Boboy Tupas in the first district. Tupas lost by more than 20,000 in the 1st district, a job made easier for Garin because his daughter-in-law was unopposed. It was a political double-cross of the highest order. Because of this, the admission of the Garins to the LP will only reopen the wounds he inflicted on Boboy Tupas and family. It  will  be a personal insult to a family that fought hard for President Aquino’s victory in Iloilo province.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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