The recent vindication of Mayor Lucilo Bayron from an Ombudsman case that nearly cost his career was a pyrrhic victory. It came at the cost of losing an ally and gaining an enemy. Before this week drew to a close, his vice mayor and estranged ally, Luis Marcaida III, had formally declared plans to contest the mayoralty in the next local elections.
The events that have unfolded during the last couple of weeks show how bitterly divided City Hall politics has become. On one end is Mayor Bayron, unforgiving and vowing revenge upon his enemies whom he felt had abandoned him during his hour of need.
High on this list is Marcaida, who appears to have allied with Bayron’s erstwhile bitter rival and former mayor Edward Hagedorn upon his ascendancy to the position. Now at the receiving end of brickbats, seemingly isolated, he is the accidental opposition figure.
According to Marcaida’s narrative, their split happened because he relented to the DILG’s order to fill in the mayor’s post after it was vacated, while the rest of his “kuridas team” tried to defy the Ombudsman’s ruling and slammed its implementation by the DILG.
He claimed he had no choice but to assume as mayor, lest he gets sanctioned by the DILG for refusing to follow the established rule of succession. He vowed to reach out to Bayron to offer the olive branch but added he will promptly walk away at the first sign of rejection.
When “kuridas” was a monolithic group, Marcaida was a mere second fiddle to Bayron. He wasn’t the default anointed to the throne, other than the fact that he is vice mayor and the official spare tire. The “kuridas” political road map did not show him being prepped for the mayoralty. Not at all.
These turn of events had willy nilly thrust Marcaida into the main leagues of Palawan’s murky politics. He is now playing the part of an aggrieved party, the question of his sincerity notwithstanding, which has further heightened the polarization of the city’s body politic. His supporters claim they have the support of a significant number of barangay leaders.
The reality is that Marcaida has become a legitimate political contender, and he did not even ask for it, or plan to achieve it this way. When everyone thought that Puerto politics was mainly defined as the Hagedorns versus the Bayrons, suddenly there is an emerging third force that will make things more complicated in the next elections.a