LILIA â€˜Babyâ€™ Pineda is on her second term as provincial board member of Pampanga. She was mayor of Lubao for nine years, and before that she was a town councilor for five years. Yet when many look to her husband as the real political power, they are not being chauvinistic. Itâ€™s just that Rodolfo â€˜Bongâ€™ Pineda is an acknowledged political kingmaker who is said to have helped many local and national politicians, among them former President Joseph â€˜Erapâ€™ Estrada and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, as well as Senator Manuel â€˜Litoâ€™ Lapid and his son Pampanga Governor Mark Lapid.
Bong Pineda is not even into politics himself. What he has been alleged of being for the last two decades or so is a major jueteng operator. But as the latest piece in i Reportâ€™s current series on local bosses notes, that has given him formidable political clout. Many observers even say he can make and unmake political careers — including those of action stars-turned-politicians like the Lapids. According to business and political leaders in Pampanga, if the Lapids arenâ€™t shaking in their tooled leather boots yet, they could very well be doing so soon. Thatâ€™s because Pineda has declared war on them publicly, and is even pitting Lilia against Governor Lapid in the gubernatorial contest this May.
Arroyo seems to be still on the side of the Lapids, of course, even if she failed to endorse the young governorâ€™s reelection bid when she visited her home province last week. But out of Pampangaâ€™s 22 mayors, 18 are now standing by the Pinedas. If news coming out of Pampanga are to be believed, the four still left with Governor Lapid may be changing camps soon.
Read on at pcij.org.