By Franz Jonathan de la Fuente and Nephele Fabiola Kirong
For a city dubbed “The City of Stars” not just for being home to movie stars, but also to their political careers, Quezon City has now finally its first mayor from the glittery industry that it has been associated with for a long time.
In the last May 11 Quezon City mayoral election, Vice Mayor Herbert M. “Bistek” Bautista (Liberal Party) defeated former presidential chief of staff Michael Defensor (Nacionalista Party), former Mayor Ismael Mathay, Jr. (Independent), and 2nd district Rep. Annie Rosa Susano (Nationalist People’s Coalition).
Bautista takes his oath as the 10th mayor of Quezon City, which was once the country’s capital from 1948 to 1976.
Bautista, 42, was a film and television actor in his youth. His siblings Hero and Harlene Bautista are also actors themselves. Bautista is best known for starring in comedy roles in films such as Bagets, Jack and Jill, and Shake, Rattle, and Roll. The roles he starred as an actor usually portrayed him as a comedic, cowardly and weak protagonist who ended up acquiring the typical qualities of a centerpiece hero.
Like many actors of the time, Bautista threw his hat in the political ring by running for Quezon City Kabataang Barangay councilor in 1988. From 1988 to 1992, Bautista simultaneously served as Kabataang Barangay National Federation president, and was an ex-officio city councilor, a youth sector representative in the city council.
In 1992, Bautista was elected to the city council on his own right, serving as 3rd district councilor from 1992 to 1995. As councilor, he chaired the committee on cultural and tourism affairs. He then made history in 1995 by becoming the city’s youngest vice mayor at 27.
Bautista first ran for Quezon City Mayor in 1998, albeit unsuccessfully, losing to then-Mayor Mathay. Pres. Joseph Estrada appointed him National Youth Commissioner (at-large) in 1999, serving until 2001, when he made a successful comeback as vice mayor.
As vice mayor since 2001, Bautista presides over the city council, and also serves as National Capital Region President of the Vice Mayors League of the Philippines. He was recently elected president of the National Movement of Young Legislators, a 6,000-member organization composed of vice governors, board members, vice mayors and councilor.
Bautista is the first elected vice mayor to directly succeed to the office of mayor (Mathay, who served as mayor from 1992 to 2001, was vice mayor from 1967 to 1972). The vice mayoral position, for one, was once held by television hosts Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and Connie Angeles from 1988 to 1992, and 1998 to 2001, respectively.
Sotto went on to serve as Senator from 1992 to 2004.
Bautista’s mayoral victory parallels this year’s dominance of actors in Philippine politics. In the Senate alone, former actors Sens. Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr., Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Manuel “Lito” Lapid, and Sotto scored decisive wins.
Bautista’s main opponent, Defensor, 40, is also another young politician who holds experience comparable to Bautista’s (ex-3rd district representative, cabinet portfolios, presidential chief of staff).
It can be said that Bautista belongs to a different breed of actor-politicians. In addition to the years of political experience (a total of 15 years in elective positions), Bautista boasts of an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and Letters from San Beda College of Manila, and a masters degree in national security administration from the National Defense College of the Philippines, and a second one in public administration from the University of the Philippines (UP). Bautista also founded the Association of Graduate Students Alumni of the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance, and is also a member of a number civic organizations.
Bautista’s mayoral bid was also endorsed by Mayor Belmonte, who returned as 4th district representative in a landslide 78 percent of the vote.
Both Bautista and Mayor Belmonte were once members of Lakas-KAMPI-CMD and supporters of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. They switched to the opposition Liberal Party months before the election. Defensor remained closely identified with Arroyo despite not securing the Lakas-KAMPI-CMD nomination.
As early as now the mayor-elect would have to face corruption and plunder charges filed against him during the campaign.
Last month, Defensor accused Bautista of spending over 300 million pesos on “ghost projects” undertaken by the Office of the Vice Mayor.
Defensor boldly declared, “[Now] if you could find a single project he (Bautista) did, I will withdraw my candidacy.”
A complaint was also filed pertaining to Bautista’s alleged food purchases amounting to 106 million pesos without appropriate public bidding.
Post-election, Defensor filed an election fraud case anew, citing alleged widespread cheating and anomalies by the Bautista camp in all of the city’s 1,281 clustered precincts.
“The results in the protested precincts are not reflective of the actual votes cast therein due to frauds, anomalies and/or irregularities in the protested precincts,” said Defensor in his petition.
Nevertheless, Bautista managed to win election by a landslide, winning 68 percent of the vote. He also carried his Liberal party-mates to victory in the House in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th congressional districts.
Notable is Councilor Jorge Banal’s (LP) defeat of Rep. Matias Defensor, Jr. (Lakas-KAMPI-CMD) in the 3rd district House race. Matias is Michael’s father.
Belmonte’s daughter, Quezon City Ladies Foundation chairperson Ma. Josefina “Joy” Belmonte, was elected Bautista’s vice mayor with 70 percent, defeating Councilors Janet Malaya (NPC) and Aiko Melendez (NP-PMP).
“The city government will be more action oriented than making laws. Of course I will be continuing our outgoing mayor’s projects and new ones as well which will be outlined in our first 100 days,” Bautista said.