Nora Soriño .
ILIGAN City — Like I said earlier, no 15-0 this time and the Regencia-Vera Cruz tandem was still the team to beat.
The team was not beaten. The Regencia, well, “cult” was still working.
I had seen the makings of this “cult” a few years ago when Mayor Celso Regencia who was elected mayor the first time in the 2013 elections was in detention in the jail facility at Tipanoy, this city. That was in 2015. The hearings on whether he can still function as mayor even when detained, was held at the Hall of Justice here at Tubod, this city.This was then presided over by Judge Arthur Abundiente. To recall, the mayor was tagged as the mastermind of the botched attempt on then Congressman Vicente Belmonte, Dec. 11, 2014, near the Laguindingan airport.
His supporters tagged it as an “ambush me” attempt. The tag stuck. Thus,the “Regencia cult” materialized. Although this was per my perception only.
This writer could see it in the hundreds of supporters flocking to the court to see what happens to their hero, the underdog. They had occupied the seats in the court. Thus, who could not be accommodated there had to make do with the spaces not only immediately outside the court but even in the stairs outside.
I saw it too one day in 2015 just when twilight was setting in, in that happening which they dubbed as “Jericho March.” First, the bicycles, then the motorcycles, then the four-wheeled vehicles and then the marchers that did not have anything to ride on. All of them were brandishing lighted torches, the riders and the marchers. They looked eerie, surreal as they lifted their torches up and down in unison to the rhythm of some mantra they were chanting. As I watched them in the sidelines marching in major city streets against the backdrop of now an orange-colored sky, cold sweat came over me. That’s when the idea of this “cult” was reinforced.
The “cultists” then cheered when the Judge decided in the mayor’s favor. That is, he could still function as mayor, citing the cases of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who still functioned as congresswoman even in detention or Antonio Trillanes IV. The latter functioned as senator, too, even while detained.
Later, another judge, Ombra Ali Bacaraman, overturned the decision. But Regencia, et al. chose to forget it in the midst of his being reelected for the second time, in the 2016 elections together with virtually the rest of his team, except for 2. (In 2013 he was elected by his lonesome, except one in his ticket, by the way.)
The Regencia magic still works. But now it’s cracking. How else can one explain the “return of the comeback.” I mean, the election and/or reelection to the Sangguniang Panlungsod of some of the opposition candidates — Atty. Providencio Abragan Jr., Michelle Sweet, Simplicio Larrzabal III and Queenie Belmonte. This I all said to my friend Linda over some coffee and sandwiches in a diner.
“This will ‘tame’ the SP,” I said to Linda. “I mean the election of the four to the SP.”
“Tame?” she replied. “That is an understatement. Sanity is the word. This will bring back sanity to the SP!”
“I thought you’re for VM Vera Cruz et al.?”
“Noong alaw. But now with the cases that he has with the Ombud together with his ‘dabarkads’… the cases which are…
“…the cases which are left, right, front, back, center…” I continued what she was saying with my own words.
“Yes,” she agreed. “Like a 3D movie, the way you describe it,” and she laughed.
“Well,” I said when she was through laughing. “There’s some report going around that the mayor is to be disqualified by the Comelec because of his ‘forgetfulness.’ Forgetting that there’s a decision reversing a decision. What did they say about ‘forgetfulness’? Hmm, ‘your forgetfulness will go home to your body.’”
I stopped talking for a moment because I thought Linda was going to fall off from her seat.
“That is an unconfirmed report though. As in fake…”
“Fake news!” she exclaimed, continuing my statement. And she straightened in her seat. That’s when it occurred to me that she too might be a member of this “cult” I was thinking about.