Challenging Gov. Gwen a very high mountain to climb

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty Josephus Jimenez - The Freeman

The opposition's biggest problem in Cebu is who will run for governor against the mighty incumbent? After her greatest victory in the last polls, she appears invincible. Any challenger better have ?1 billion at the very least. He must have a superior message and a dynamic organization. Challenging the well-entrenched incumbent is like climbing Mount Manunggal barefoot.

One year before the 2022 elections, I asked: How could any challenger defeat Gwen? And when Ace Durano accepted the challenge, I predicted that running against the iron butterfly from Dumanjug (the home of the governors) was like climbing Mount Everest with a temperature of 100 degrees below zero. This time, the temperature becomes 1,000 degrees due to the results of the last polls.

I am one of those who believe that Governor Gwen should look for other mountains to climb, like the Senate, for multiple reasons. First, Cebu, with more than five million Cebuanos, has zero representation there. Tiny Taguig has two, a brother and sister, Alan Peter and Pia. The small fiefdom of Las Piñas has two, mom and son, Cynthia and Mark, and soon, Mark and Camille (didn't you see all the posters along the highway?). The microscopic city of San Juan, with a population smaller than Mactan or even smaller than Barangay Guadalupe in Cebu City, has two half-brothers, Erap's lookalike son, Jinggoy, and the good one, JV. But Cebu, the richest and most populated province, has none.

Second, only Gwen has the organization, funds, and guts to run a national campaign by now, aside from beleaguered Mike Rama who is climbing a different mountain nowadays. Only Gwen can stand up to Chiz, Migz, or even Loren, Risa, or Grace. So Gwen should leave the Capitol to her daughter Christina, or son-in-law Duke Frasco, or to Willy Caminero, Peter John Calderon, Estong Rama, the son of the late governor Osmundo Rama, or to Erik Espina, the son of another governor, Rene Espina. Gwen should allow others to shine too and she should be in the national arena to prepare to run for vice president in 2028. A good leader also allows others to climb the mountain she has already conquered several times.

Third, Gwen already established many records, the first female governor, the first to be returned to the Capitol, and the first governor to garner more than a million votes. She should stop while she is on top. Those who will challenge Gwen should review the records of the 2022 poll results. I don’t have the space for all towns but I shall focus on the component cities and some big towns. In Mandaue, Gwen got a whopping 139,932 over Durano's 39,380. In Bogo, it was 38,819 for Gwen and only 4,023 for Ace, despite the Martinez alliance. In Carcar, Gwen got 54,788 while Ace only got 14,066. In Naga she got 60,052 while Durano only got 5,896.

In Talisay she got 105,283 while Ace only 14,579. In Toledo, Garcia garnered 81,152 while Durano only 12,638. In Argao, Gwen got 36,339 while Durano only 5,933. Barili gave Gwen 36,547 and only 7,524 to Ace. Balamban gave Gwen 32,638 and only 8,077 to Ace. Dumanjug also delivered her 29,515 votes and only gave Ace 1,345 votes. In my tiny town of Ronda, Gwen was credited with 11,759 while Durano had only 846. And so, given these trends in 2022, where in the world shall the opponent of Garcia in 2025 hope to get his or her votes?

The only way to take Gwen out of the Capitol is to elect her senator in 2025 and vice president in 2028. Governor Gwen should hitch her wagon to the stars. Governor Gwen has grown too big for the Capitol. Her guts, glitz, and gumption make her our excellent voice in the Upper Chamber of Congress. She can give Imee and Cynthia Villar a good run for their money. She can also give Robinhood, Lito Lapid, and Bong Revilla a piece of her sharp mind. And that is a day I have always looked forward to.

I hope that the formidable dragon lady allows other Cebuanos to lead the province. She has nothing more to prove. Her records are unbeatable. And Cebu is too small for such a huge lady of grit, guts, and gumption. She has to hitch her wagon to higher stars. We deserve representation in the Upper Chamber, and no other can do it for now.

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