BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental Occidental, Philippines – It was a day that marked a lot of occasions.
To Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, it was the 75th day before Christmas, a Yuletide season that will be celebrated amid the El Niño that is expected to bring a long, dry spell for the sugar-producing capital of the Philippines, and to other provinces.
Among the mayors of the 32 localities here, only two town mayors came – one from Calatrava, known for its monkeys asking for food, and Valladolid, known for its roadside eateries selling seafood – both celebrating significant life events.
On the day of the news conference at the Capitol’s Social Hall on 10 October 2023, Calatrava Mayor Marilyn Era was celebrating her birthday.
“But she is with us today and that is proof of her commitment to the ELCAC,” provincial governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said as he announced Era’s birthday.
The other, Enrique “Bebot” Miravalles, also marked his birtbday the other day.
The neophyte executive, reputed to be dynamic and hands on, was frank about attempts to topple government.
“I was once a rebel having supported at least seven coup d’etats” but nothing happened, Miravalles told this reporter, referring to his being once a member of the putschist Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabansa that started as the Reform the Armed Forces Movement under President Ferdinand Marcos Sr whose son and namesake is now the country’s chief executive.
Another mayor, former soldier Benjie Miranda of Kabankalan City came to the news conference.
The others, more than 20 of them, were absent and did not send any representatives.
“Of you just shout and shout in the streets against the government then you become a rebel,” Miravalles told DNX in a mix of Hiligaynon and English as he pointed out that those who really want to implement reforms are better off joining the government.
(In Part 2: The dwindling Reds)