In the early part of 2008, I wrote a paper for the Institute for Popular Democracy (which I also presented in the PPSA) on the decline of the Imperials of Albay Province. The paper concludes that if the clan will not reinvent itself and if the members of the clan’s later generation will not step their foot in politics, the clan will eventually lost its hold on local power.
Indeed, on April 11 this year, the clan’s political patriarch died and it signaled the death of the clan in local politics. He is Carlos “Papay” Imperial, the son of Domingo. Papay served as the Congressman of the Second District of Albay from 1965-1972; an Assemblyman from 1978-1984; and a Congressman again from 1987-2004. His wife, Norma, substituted for him to fill-in his term limits from 1998-2001.
For the nth time, people are asking me: How did Noynoy Aquino bag the Bicol vote? For the nth time my reply was: He just hit the right strategy for the region, got Joey Salceda on his camp, and he won.
But more than that, Noynoy changed the course of Bicolano voting behavior. Since 1992, the region has been voting for opposition candidates who never won. First was Jovito Salonga, then Raul Roco for the 1998 and 2004 elections. If Noynoy did not roll out the correct strategy, Joseph Estrada could have won in this popularly known as opposition country. Manny Villar might bag a significant number of votes but he will still fall short as discussed below.
The recently concluded elections brought a double whammy to the Alfelor Clan, one of the major political forces in Camarines Sur. Felix “Nancing” Alfelor, Jr., lost his bid for provincial governor while his brother, and Emmanuel “Manny” Alfelor Sr., failed to catch the congressional seat by a very narrow margin. Hence the question: Where did the clan go wrong?
When Luis Villafuerte bolted from Palaka (Partido Lakas-Kampi) last year, a single whammy for the Alfelors was already written, at the least, on the sand. It should be noted that in 2007, the political stalwarts of the province — Alfelor, Andaya, and Villafuerte — formed a grand alliance similar to the “Alyansa kan Apat na Aguila” during the Marcos period. The 2007 alliance was intended to catapult the candidacy of Datu Arroyo and at the same time minimize election costs by not engaging in a political derby. The alliance was expected to go beyond the midterm elections that in 2008, political arrangements were already ironed out. However, when the Villafuertes expressed intent to join the Nationalist People’s Coalition and Partido Nacionalista of Villar, the well pressed political cloth got torned. Logically, this means the Villafuertes will be banging their heads against their former allies. And they did.