2016 Newsmakers and Noisemakers
FROM start to finish, many of this year’s biggest news stories, newsmakers and noisemakers centered around the 2016 national elections, the war on drugs and extrajudicial killings, and a foreboding sense of change in many aspects — local and national governance, health, flooding, even the wicked weather.
We look back at the year’s events and the people that made them so memorable — across Western Visayas and around the country.
PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE
No doubt he’s the most talked about person and topic in 2016. From his foul mouth to his war on drugs, from his verbal attacks on the United States to his proclaimed admiration of communist China, from extrajudicial killings to his nonstop tirades on Sen. Leila de Lima, he is the most headline- grabbing Filipino this year.
This former Davao City mayor’s rise to the presidency is in itself historic — he’s the only local chief executive to become the country’s highest leader. With the exception of Corazon
Aquino ( a plain housewife), the country’s previous presidents held national positions (either as vice president, senator or Cabinet official) before becoming the highest elected official of the land.
He is also the first president to come from Mindanao.
He was the biggest loser in the 2016 presidential elections. He had the backing of then incumbent President Benigno Aquino III, the machinery of the party then in power (Liberal Party) and the support of almost all local officials across the country, but these were not enough to bag the presidency.
Though he handily won the Visayas votes, he lost the Luzon and Mindanao votes. And he always trailed in the surveys.
MELVIN “BOYET” ODICTA SR.
Past midnight on Aug. 29, 2016 gunmen at the jetty port i n Barangay Caticlan, Malay, Aklan shot to death this Iloilo City businessman whom Police Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa tagged as the drug lord “Dragon” operating in Western Visayas.
The assassins also killed Odicta’s wife Meriam while the couple were at the walkway of the port terminal. They had just alighted from a roll- on, roll- off (ro-ro) vessel from Batangas.
The Odictas, residents of Barangay Tanza Esperanza, Iloilo City, were gunned down nearly three days after Dela Rosa visited Western Visayas and four days after the husband and wife met Interior and Local Government secretary Ismael Sueno in Camp Crame in Quezon City to deny their involvement in illegal drugs.
MAYOR JED PATRICK MABILOG
President Rodrigo Duterte named him a drug coddler during a speech on Aug. 7, 2016. Of course, he denied this.
“These are trying times,” said Mabilog as he tried to steady his voice while reading a prepared statement hours after the President spoke. “I can categorically say that I am not involved in the protection, trade and use of illegal drugs.”
In a hastily organized press conference at city hall, he opened his statement by saying he supports the President’s campaign against illegal drugs.
“I f ull y understand his determination to defeat the menace. It is very unfortunate and disconcerting that my name is linked and included in the list,” said Mabilog.
The mayor said he was “willing to open myself for any investigation, cooperate and submit myself to any court of law.”
ILOILO CITY / PROVINCE
“Most shabu- l i zed” was how President Rodrigo Duterte described Iloilo as he linked four mayors, including Iloilo City’s Jed Patrick Mabilog and several police officers to drug trafficking.
The three other Iloilo mayors he named on Aug. 7, 2016 were Alex Centena of Calinog town, Siegfredo Betita of Carles and Mariano Malones of Maasin.
“Iloilo grabe talaga,” said President Duterte as he ordered the Philippine National Police to remove from these mayors the power to supervise their police units.
The President also ordered the cancellation of all firearms licensed to the mayors.
The former Western Visayas police director and four other police generals were linked to illegal drugs by no less than the country’s Commander-in-Chief.
At the Philippine Air Force’s 69th anniversary celebration at Clark Air Base, Pampanga on Aug. 5, 2016 President Rodrigo Duterte ordered Diaz to report to the Philippine National Police (PNP) director general for investigation.
PNP Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa sacked Diaz from the Police Regional Office 6 on July 1, 2016.
Diaz attracted controversy weeks before the May 9 elections. He was one of f our police generals in active service seen in the company of men identified with then Liberal Party standard- bearer Mar Roxas at the Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City.
SEN. MIRIAM DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO
A known graft-buster “eating death threats for breakfast,” this feisty Ilongga l ost her nearly three-year battle with cancer on Sept. 29, 2016 at age 71.
She was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in June 2014 and made a public announcement about it the following month.
But for the last time in May this year, she joined the election for the country’s top post. She finished last among five aspirants with only 1,415,876 votes.
I n the 1992 presidential election, Santiago nearly won, losing by only 870,000 votes to Fidel Ramos.
She ran again in 1998 but placed seventh out of 10 presidential wannabes. Joseph Estrada won the poll.
CONG. JERRY TREÑAS
He surprised friends and supporters when he announced just this Dec. 3, 2016 that he’s quitting politics by 2019 when his third consecutive and final term as congressman ends.
Only a few believe him. A three- termer congressman barred from seeking a fourth consecutive term, he previously announced he would be running for mayor again in 2019.
But Treñas insisted, “I don’t know what can change my mind.” He denied trying to deceive his ally Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog as what the political opposition was trying to paint. “I am straightforward,” he told
Panay News and stressed he did not have “political training” in laying traps.
Treñas served as Iloilo City mayor for three terms ( 2001- 2004, 2004-2007, 2007-2010). He surprised everyone in 2010 when he ran for congressman against his then political ally Cong. Raul Gonzalez Jr.
Ranked No. 2 in Police Station 1’s list of suspected drug personalities in Iloilo City Proper, this barangay
kagawad of Monica Blumentritt, City Proper surrendered on July 18, 2016.
In a prepared affidavit, he denied being a drug pusher or user.
On Oct. 2, 2016 policemen raided his four-storey house. They failed to arrest him but managed to confiscate shabu, guns and ammunition.
On Oct. 4 Espinosa turned himself in to Branch 31 of the Regional Trial Court at the Chief Justice Ramon Q. Avanceña Hall of Justice. He, however, clarified his surrender had nothing to do with the raid. He said this was in connection with his frustrated murder case.
2016 NATIONAL ELECTION
This was probably the most exciting even if divisive election in the country’s recent history.
Social media became a new campaign tool and was evidently effective most especially in the presidential candidacy of then Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
The election was held on May 9, 2016. This was the 16th presidential election in the Philippines since 1935 and the sixth sextennial presidential election since 1986.
The continuation of outgoing President Benigno Aquino III’s policies was the main theme for the election. Former Interior secretary Mar Roxas promised the continuation of the “Daang Matuwid” anticorruption drive, which was appealing among the elites. Vice President Jejomar Binay’s policies were seen to be opposite of Aquino’s, such as the former’s opposition to the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, and on how to approach China concerning the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, while presenting himself as a man of the people, and fighting out allegations of corruption while serving as mayor of Makati.
Sen. Grace Poe’s campaign was seen to be an alternative to Roxas and Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte; her image as untarnished by corruption was liked by the elite, while she sent messages that were pro-poor.
Duterte was banking on a law and order platform, which included the proposals concerning federalism in the Philippines.
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who almost won the presidency in 1992, insisted that she had recovered from cancer.
Duterte’s policies were heavily favored by older working- class who were mostly poor and have nationalistic/ethnocentric views.
This Dinagyang 2016 champion from Jaro National High School pulled a stunning upset.
Perennial Dinagyang Festival champion Tribu Panayanon of Iloilo City National High School was completely shut out of major awards in this year’s Dinagyang Festival ati-ati tribes competition.
Tribu Salognon bagged three other awards: Best in Performance, Best in Choreography and Best Choreographer ( Errol J ave Villalobos).
TribuPa nayanon, the Dinagyang champion for three straight years ( 2013, 2014 and 2015) failed to get even any of the four runner-up honors though it bagged three minor awards (Best in Music, Best in Costume and Best in Street-Dancing) and three special awards (Best Costume Designer, Best Headdress and Best Musical Director).
It was later learned that the riser that Tribu Panayanon used during the competition caused its downfall.
The riser – a theater platform used to provide varying levels to make a show more visually i nteresting – exceeded t he dimensions t hat t he I l oilo Dinagyang Foundation, Inc. set in the criteria.
ILOILO CITY COUNCILORS PLARIDEL NAVA AND JOSHUA ALIM
These two fierce critics of Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog in the Sangguniang Panlungsod frustrated the local Liberal Party (LP) from repeating i ts 2013 elections’ landslide win.
While re-electionists Mabilog and partymates Vice Mayor Jose Espinosa III and Cong. Jerry Treñas left their challengers biting the dust in the May elections, opposition councilors Nava and Alim made a strong showing in the polls and were re-elected.
Mabilog would have wanted a victorious clean sweep for his group down to his 12 LP candidates for the city council.
Weeks before the elections, barangay captains were rumored to have been promised huge sums of money as reward should their turfs achieve a clean sweep for the LP candidates.
ANTIQUE’S EX-GOV. EXEQUIEL JAVIER
His defeat in the May 2016 election was deemed “bound to happen.” The people have waited too long for him to perform. He was perceived to be a mediocre governor and, previously, congressman.
He lost to Rhodora Cadiao, who won with an insurmountable 134,693 votes against his 102,686 votes – a lead of 32,007 votes.
J avier had been running undefeated, either for governor or congressman, for 30 straight years since 1986. So this was the first time he encountered his waterloo in the hands of a “lady David.”
ILOILO VICE GOV. CHRISTINE GARIN
Guimbal, Iloilo mayor Christine “Tingting” Garin defeated Cong. Niel “Jun-jun” Tupas Jr. for Iloilo vice governor.
She is the first woman vice governor in the province’s history.
The Garin clan had hoped she would be endorsed by the Liberal Party (LP) as its bet for the vice gubernatorial post. However, they were surprised when Tupas filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for Iloilo vice governor, claiming that he was nominated by the administration party to be its official bet for the said position.
This led to Garin filing her COC under the National Unity Party – an affiliate of LP.
Garin dominated the race in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th districts of Iloilo. Tupas was strong only in the 5th District.
FLOODING IN ILOILO CITY
This city always get flooded when it rains. No thanks to its poorly maintained drainage system.
Early this month, the Department of Public Works and Highways announced Ap 100- million drainage project to solve once and for all the constant downtown flooding.
But citing previous DPWH projects, Councilor Joshua Alim observed ,“Sig el an gkutkot, wala man direction. Resulta:
baha gyapon. Their drainage plan, I’m telling you, will not solve the flooding.”
NEGROS ISLAND REGION
Will this newly created region carved out of Western Visayas and Central Visayas be abolished? Citing the lack of budget, President Rodrigo Duterte said he may do so.
Negrenses took to social media their protest. On Facebook, several users shared a profile of Negros Island with the text, “Let’s hope the progress in Negros Island will stay and continue to flourish.”
A description accompanying the graphic stated, “The 20-year dream deserves reality! Negros Island Region deserves to stay!”
A 45-year-old married woman from Iloilo City tested positive for the Zika virus, making her the sixth laboratory-confirmed case in the Philippines since 2012. She was found positive through blood and urine tests in September.
The Zika virus is transmitted by the day- biting Aedes egypti mosquitoes that live and breed in clear, stagnant water. It is prompting worldwide concern because of its connection to a neurological birth disorder – microcephaly – and its rapid spread across the globe.
This is the first case of local transmission in the country.
BARANGAY MARIA CLARA FIRE
Late night of March 28, 2016 fire gutted 78 houses in Barangay Maria Clara, Iloilo City – one of the biggest conflagrations in the city this year.
It was a case of arson, according to the Bureau of Fire Protection and a suspect was charged – Barangay Maria Clara resident Rodolfo “Boy” Supremo from whose house the fire started around 10:30 p.m.
One vocal resident, Elsa Billon, told Panay News she previously heard Supremo threatening to set their barangay on fire.
The City Social Welfare and Development Office listed 54 totally damaged houses and 15 partially damaged ones in Barangay Maria Clara.
In the adjacent Barangay Rizal Ibarra, the social welfare office listed five totally damaged houses and four partially damaged ones.
SEN. LEILA DE LIMA
From her alleged involved in illegal drugs to her amorous relationship with her driver- bodyguard, Senator de Lima is a fodder for tabloids.
On Aug. 17, 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte alleged that de Lima had been having an affair with her driver, Ronnie Dayan, who Duterte also alleged functioned as de Lima’s collector for drug protection money when she was the Justice secretary.
The President later announced that he had in his possession wiretaps and ATM r ecords confirming his allegations. He explained that he had received them from an unnamed foreign country.
I n September 2016, de Lima was removed from her position as chairperson of a Senate committee investigating extrajudicial killings.
She l ater admitted her relationship with Dayan.
Despite the controversies and serious allegations about her, early this month de Lima received praise from international human rights advocates and journalists for her criticism of Duterte’s drug war.
FORMER PRESIDENT FERDINAND MARCOS
Even in death, the dictator still makes the headlines. He was surreptitiously buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani to the chagrin of martial law victims and their families. A human rights violator and plunderer of the country’s coffers could never be a hero, they say.
President Rodrigo Duterte, however, stuck to his guns and allowed a hero’s burial for Marcos – it was his promise to the dictator’s daughter, Ilocos Norte’s Gov. Imee Marcos, who supported his presidential bid.
This active volcano in the Negros Island Region spewed ash once more on March 29, 2016.
The ash eruption lasted for 12 minutes, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs). The volcano emitted plumes of ash some 1,500 meters high in its southeastern portion, resulting in thin ash falling on Sitio Guintubdan, Barangay Ara-al, La Carlota City, Negros Occidental.
Prior to the eruption, Phivolcs recorded three volcanic earthquakes.
With the volcano’s period of unrest, the institute ordered the public not to venture beyond the 4- kilometer permanent danger zone of Kanlaon. Aircraft pilots were also advised to avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit; sudden phreatic eruptions are hazardous to aircrafts.
Kanlaon Volcano remained under Alert Level 1 status since Nov. 23, 2015.
SEN. GRACE POE
MANY thought she would win the presidency. She had been leading the election surveys since 2014. She had the name and popularity after all (her adoptive parents were movie king Fernando Poe Jr. and movie queen Susan Roces).
She caught the imagination of the Ilonggos, too. As a baby, she was found on Sept. 3, 1968 in Iloilo City by a woman in the holy water font of the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral. She was christened by Jaime Sin, the archbishop of Jaro, who would later become archbishop of Manila and a cardinal.
Controversy surrounds the identity of her birth parents, with a persistent urban legend stating Poe to be the daughter of former president Ferdinand Marcos f rom an affair with Rosemarie Sonora, Roces’ sister and a former movie star.
During the May elections, she faced tough questions about her citizenship and competence and these issues sidetracked her from her election campaign.
VICE PRESIDENT LENI ROBREDO
Her winning the vice presidency is still being challenged by rival, former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. She won by less than a million votes and Marcos claimed he was cheated.
President Rodrigo Duterte reluctantly gave her a Cabinet post as the country’s housing czar but she resigned – some say she was fired – after only some four months. The President did not want her to attend Cabinet meetings anymore./