“Win or lose, we go shopping after the election.” –Imelda Marcos
Dr. Perla S. Zulueta’s “surprise” entry into the Iloilo City lone district congressional race must have saddened City Councilor Joshua Alim and former City Councilor Julienne ‘Jam-Jam’ Baronda as both should be aware the latest potential candidate carries with her a nearly impeccable record and lengthy public service experience.
I covered Zulueta when she won a seat on the Iloilo Provincial Board in 1988; and between 1989 and 1992, the former IBC-12 newscaster was a runaway newsmaker as she was considered the top tormentor of then-Iloilo Governor Simplicio ‘Sim’ Griño.
Iloilo City Councilor Armand Parcon, then a capitol beat reporter for Bombo Radyo Iloilo, alongside Bombo Radyo reporter Alim (a law student at the time) and then-Bombo Radyo star reporter Francis Hinayhinay, would be present during interviews with Zulueta, who earned the moniker “The Iron Lady” following a series of jaw-dropping exposés and philippic speeches before the provincial board.
In 1992, there was a tense moment after Zulueta lost the governor’s race to Presidential Commission on Good Government commissioner, former Assemblyman Arthur ‘Art’ Defensor, Sr. We in the Iloilo Capitol press corps were tipped off on claims Griño’s “indignant” son was on capitol premises with plans to “disrupt” the provincial board’s regular session in order to prevent Zulueta from making another scathing privilege speech – this one expected to embarrass the governor.
Everyone waited anxiously, leering inside and outside the session hall as if we were watching a ping pong match.
The son eventually appeared but was boxed out by a phalanx of capitol henchmen, under the watch of former Oton Mayor Lazaro ‘Nene’ Zulueta, who stood silently by like Kevin Costner in “The Bodyguard.” The board member proceeded to sledgehammer the Griño administration anew.
Griño, a good and religious man, finished third in the said gubernatorial race, behind Defensor and Zulueta.
When the provincial board member was elected to the Iloilo City Council in 1995, she once again strapped on the opposition holster and became a headache for then-Mayor Mansueto ‘Mansing’ Malabor. With every cookie jar a Malabor minion dipped their fingers into, Zulueta was running the gauntlet and firing on all cylinders; in every anomaly she stumbled upon, the city councilor made sure the thieves received their proper comeuppance, which came as a relief to taxpayers.
In 1998, Zulueta sided with then-City Councilor Jerry Treñas, currently the incumbent Iloilo City lone district representative, in an attempt to prevent “man of the masa” Malabor from being reelected; however, the incumbent managed to complete three terms as mayor.
The city councilor also developed a political relationship with then-City Councilor Jose ‘Joe III’ Espinosa III, currently the incumbent Iloilo City mayor (the two worked closely in their opposition to the Malabor administration). When Espinosa became mayor last year, he retained Zulueta, an appointee of his predecessor, former Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog.
She reportedly accepted Espinosa’s invitation to run for congress after former City Councilor Nielex ‘Lex’ Tupas announced he would be backing away from politics.
Zulueta’s entry puts her on a collision course against Baronda (backed by Treñas) and Alim (reportedly supported by a group led by Dr. Pacita Gonzalez)./WDJ