It’s not Gwen; it’s her mother


Several weeks ago, I wrote about Cebu’s most influential political rivals, the Garcias and the Martinezes, wrestling to take control of AM radio El Nuevo Bantay Radyo in preparation for the 2016 elections.

Former governor now 3rd District Representative Gwendolyn Garcia promptly reacted to my column, denying negotiations with Cagayan de Oro-based Sarraga Integration and Management (SIAM) Broadcasting Corp., the franchise holder operating the radio station. She said Bantay Radyo does not interest her.

There is a sudden twist in the story. Starting August 1, CFI will be running the radio station. But here’s the catch: the chairperson and founder of CFI, retired judge Esperanza Garcia, is the mother of Gwen. But yes, I was wrong. It was neither Gwen nor Mariquita Salimbangon who was negotiating to get Bantay Radyo. It was her mother! Believe me, I couldn’t stop grinning when I heard the news.

Anyway, CFI spokesman Atty. Lito Astillero was quoted by the Cebu media as saying that the radio station will be used for the education of their members and would-be members. He further said: “First, the pre-membership, so that they will know what a cooperative really is. Another example is that if we issue bulletins, the radio station can be made as a venue for information.”

Today, TV, internet and social media have taken over radio. In fact, some people say radio is a dying medium. As a part-owner of a radio station, I can attest to that. Radio stations have to compete over minimal number of advertisements, with the advertisers shifting to TV and the digital platforms. In Cebu alone, 13 AM radio stations have to compete for a small chunk of advertisers, not to mention AM stations competing with a tougher competitor for radio advertisers – the FM group. It is therefore surprising, if not eyebrow-raising, for a cooperative to venture into the radio business considering the monthly overhead requirement.

So, what is the real agenda behind the takeover of Bantay Radyo by CFI? Politics? Preparation for 2016 elections?

The battle for the Cebu gubernatorial post will be interesting. A 3-corner fight is looming among incumbent Governor Hilario Davide 3rd, Gwen Garcia, and former governor Emilio “Lito” Osmeña.

Gwen served three terms — from 2004 to 2013 while Osmeña served as Cebu governor from 1988 to 1992. Both have impressive achievements during their tenure.

Osmeña was responsible for the commercial and industrial boom in Cebu.

Gwen, the first lady governor of Cebu, ushered tourism growth to include the far-flung areas of Cebu, where tourism used to be unheard of. Tourism is a major economic driver of growth in Cebu in recent years. In fact, a report from NEDA shows Cebu accounts for 76 percent of the three million tourist arrival statistics in the Central Visayas. Besides tourism, it was also during Gwen’s term that BPOs started to move in. Today, fifty-six percent of Metro Cebu’s total economic output is due to industry. Indeed, the BPO industry has contributed tremendously not only to Cebu’s economy but to the entire country as well.

Davide, on the other hand, though perceived as a weak leader and has yet to prove himself, has the support of 32 out of 50 mayors in Cebu. Davide, being an ally of President Aquino, has the machinery of the administration and LP, too.

So, who will be the next governor of Cebu? Note that Cebu leadership is a matter of interest among other provinces in the region, too, because its economy has an impact on its neighboring provinces— Bohol, Negros Oriental.

Will Cebu be able to maintain its lead on economic growth? It depends on the Cebuano voters. Oh well, Cebuanos are intelligent voters, so, yes. But then, I could be wrong again. Haha!

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