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It hasn’t even been a week since the elections and the shift of power can already be felt. The newly elected politicians have started preparing for the Barangay Elections, placing their bets on potential alliances at the lowest level because that is where the public can be easily accessed. Being able to control the leaders, whether through respect or fear or money, is a means to secure one’s power. A high-level leader cannot do everything by himself but by centralizing the flow of command and controlling the few who can control the many, he can cling to power for a long time without exerting much effort. As of now, there are four great powers in Antipolo who, more likely than not, the Antipoleños will keep seeing for the next coming years: Ynares, Puno, Acop, and Gatlabayan.

As my father has said many times before, in politics, ‘your friends today can be your enemies tomorrow and your enemies today can be your friends tomorrow.’ The 2013 Barangay Elections will determine whether or not the great powers will remain friends. Intentions to control the city will definitely cause them to part ways later on this year. Perhaps, some will continue to be allies but others, because of ambition, will find ways to create their own groups of leaders at the barangay level.

Based on the ally-rivalry history of Antipolo, it is to be expected that some changes will occur, if not as early as the 2013 Barangay Elections, it will certainly happen in the 2016 National and Local Elections. In 1998 and 2001, the biggest tie-up was between Angelito Gatlabayan and Victor Sumulong. In 2004, following their break-up, the alliances changed into Angelito Gatlabayan and Ito Ynares versus Victor Sumulong and Ronnie Puno. At that time, Danilo Leyble was already linked to the Gatlabayan-Ynares alliance. The alliances were the same until Mayor Victor Sumulong’s death in 2009 when then Vice-Mayor Danilo Leyble had to replace him as mayor and had to cooperate with DILG Secretary Ronnie Puno. Instead of returning to Gatlabayan and Ynares in 2010, Leyble decided to ally with Ronnie Puno. In the middle of Leyble’s 2010-2013 term, he cut off ties with Ronnie Puno. Antipolo’s history of political alliances has influenced not only the present political set-up but the election results as well. Antipolo must understand that Leyble’s loss against the alliance between Gatlabayan, Acop, Puno, and Ynares, although unfortunate to many, should have been predictable.

Surely, the 2013 Barangay Elections will become an important clue on what is to come in the 2016 National and Local Elections. Considering the status of each great power’s term in his respective position, some speculations can be produced as to what each one may do in 2016.

As for Angelito Gatlabayan, his slate is clean with regard to terms in office and he may or may not pursue a local or national position. The possibilities are as follows: 1) He may remain in private life, 2) He may run for Congressman in the second district of Antipolo under the line-up of Ynares, or 3) He may run again as mayor if Mayor-elect Jun-Jun Ynares decides to run for governor instead.

Reelected Congressman Romeo Acop still has another term in the second district of Antipolo. There are three scenarios that can happen because of that fact: 1) He may go back to private life, 2) He may run again for his last term as congressman, or 3) He may run against Angelito Gatlabayan as congressman if Gatlabayan’s candidacy for the second congressional district of Antipolo is arranged by Ynares.

Reelected Congressman Robbie Puno has no remaining term in the first district of Antipolo. Three scenarios come to mind yet again: 1) He may go back to private life, 2) Chiqui Roa-Puno, his wife, or Ronnie Puno, his older brother, may replace him as a candidate for the first congressional district of Antipolo, or 3) He may run as mayor in 2016.

Mayor-elect Jun-Jun Ynares still has two remaining terms for his position. The scenarios that may arise are as follows: 1) He may go back to private life, 2) He may run again for mayor in 2016, or 3) He may give way to Angelito Gatlabayan for the mayoral seat and run as governor of Rizal instead.

These many possibilities are yet to be filtered and the 2013 Barangay Elections will be a good starting point in predicting the political set-up that may be formed in Antipolo in the next coming years. Antipoleños should not easily dismiss the new leaders of the city but cooperate with them in hopes of building and molding a better Antipolo. In order to maximize the potential of the city, issues regarding political divisions should be set aside for the time being, because the majority have spoken and what has been said should be treated with respect but with utter vigilance and a critical mind.

Mabuhay ang Antipolo!

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