For the nth time, Liberal Party president and presidential hopeful Sen. Mar Roxas visited Cebu City over the weekend in an apparent bid to emerge as the candidate of the Visayas and Mindanao.
How is he faring particularly in Cebu?
One, his past visits though covered by media hardly ever hit the front pages of local dailies. This time, the issues he discussed became banner stories of the two leading English language papers — Sun.Star Cebu and The Freeman. His photos also appeared on the front pages of both Bisaya-language papers — Superbalita and Banat News. Maybe it was because the weekend was the culmination of Press Freedom Week and the staff of Cebu newspapers had earlier deadlines to beat because they all don’t want to miss the San Miguel-sponsored party at Holiday Plaza Hotel that evening. Or maybe the goodwill he had forged through months of visits finally bore fruit.
Two, he has the support of the political organization of Mayor Tomas Osmena in Cebu City. In the province, though Gov. Gwen Garcia has not categorically expressed support, she has not supported others also. While Senate President Manny Villar may have forged some kind of a relationship with the Garcia-owned Sun.Star Publications with his co-sponsorship of this year’s Super 9-Ball, Roxas supporters within the Liberal Party Sen. Franklin Drilon and Rep. Erin Tanada had quietly been strengthening their ties with Rep. Pablo Garcia and Pablo John Garcia. Pablo Garcia had the all-out support by the Liberal Party when in his failed bid for the House Speakership against then Speaker Jose de Venecia.
As of the moment, Sen. Roxas has steered clear of the mine-filled conflict between the Garcias and Osmena.
Will Roxas win over Cebu like what President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo achieved in 2004 when all warring local leaders supported her? That still remains to be seen.