CEBU CITY, January 8, 2004 (STAR) Alliances and splits are forming among the gubernatorial candidates here that could diffuse, confuse or reduce the three-way fight in the province.

Talk was thick that Sen. John Henry "Sonny" Osmeña and his estranged brother, the former governor Emilio Osmeña, have put their ill-feelings behind and have reportedly formed tactical alliances to shore up John Gregory "John-John" Osmeña, the senator’s son, to be the governor of Cebu.

Gov. Pablo Garcia claimed that the Osmeñas are concocting a political game plan to dislodge Gwendolyn Garcia, his daughter, out of the race by neutralizing her running mate, Julian Daan.

But Sen. Osmeña, in an interview with the ANC News Channel the other night, said there are underhanded moves that the Martinezes are the ones out to foul up John-John’s bid for governor.

The senator believes the Martinezes are behind the filing of the candidacy of Jose Marie Osmeña as governor under the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL).

The senator said Jose Marie is a cousin who is a sugar planter in the north.

He said he reached out to Agriculture Undersecretary Celestino Martinez Jr. for a possible tactical alliance.

But he said Martinez snubbed the overtures as he filed his candidacy for governor with provincial board member Gregorio Sanchez as running mate.

Now being looked at in the flurry of new ties and splits are dark horse Adelino Sitoy, who is running as John-John’s vice gubernatorial running mate, and the curious entry of Fernando Celeste, who is running for vice governor.

Among the bets, Celeste is the only one running for vice governor under the Probinsya Muna Development Initiative (Promdi), but without a gubernatorial running mate.

Political observers believe a political strategy to dislodge Sitoy and eventually replace him with Celeste could be in the offing to field a John-John-Celeste tandem.

Sources claimed that Sitoy is only a "decoy," and that what is being groomed is a John-John-Celeste tandem. They believe this is the reason why Celeste was deliberately fielded without a gubernatorial running mate.

Gov. Garcia, however, is confident that despite the political game plan of the Osmeñas, Gwendolyn has the support of 70 percent of the barangay captains and at least 22 of 30 Lakas mayors.

But there is more to alliances and splits. In the south, Talisay City Mayor Eduardo Gullas said he is keeping his ties with Gov. Garcia after Daan left him in the cold in Talisay City.

Daan earlier signified to join Gullas’ slate for a provincial board seat but on the 11th hour, Daan backed out and joined Garcia’s camp as Gwendolyn’s running mate.

As a gesture of keeping their alliances, Garcia said, "Gullas is my candidate irrespective of his political affiliation because I believe he is competent." – Freeman News Service

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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