Rep. Arthur Yap, last termer solon of Bohol’s third district captured the national limelight when he, together with former Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, was formally sworn to President Duterte’s Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) last Wednesday.
The taking in of both political leaders to the administration party was viewed by many as a prelude for other elected officials to follow suit in time for the 2019 elections.
For Yap, he told the Chronicle his taking oath to PDP Laban is “nothing special nor positioning for the 2019 elections.”
Aside from Yap and Arroyo, Camiguin Rep. Xavier Jesus Romualdo, former Agrarian Reform Sec. Nasser Pangandaman and lawyer Raul Lambino likewise took their oath to PDP-Laban in which Duterte is the party chairman.
They took oath on October 11 before House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, secretary-general of PDP-Laban.
Their oath-taking ceremony was witnessed by House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas.
Yap’s joining the administration party is expected to change the political scenario for the 2019 elections especially that Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, Jr. is visibly seen as a possible gubernatorial bet under the Duterte administration. Evasco, who already met all town mayors in the province some three weeks ago, has not issued any reaction on Yap’s joining the admin party.
Reports reaching the Chronicle revealed that House Speaker Alvarez was supposed to come to the province to administer the oath of several town mayors who were eagerly wanting to jump to the admin party. However, this was aborted in a way after Gov. Edgar Chatto made a loyalty check of the mayors’ political affiliation.
During that meeting in a resort in Baclayon town, some 32 mayors out of 47 were present.
It was agreed that they remain with the “Padayon Bol-anon” group under Gov. Chatto.
On the event that Yap and Evasco will run in the 2019 polls, a “rainbow coalition” is seen as the most logical arrangement that would be acceptable to the mayors.
Cabinet Sec. Evasco has repeatedly said that his frequent coming to Bohol is part of his job to bring development in the countryside.
“My running for governor, if ever, will depend if the President will tell me so,” Evasco’s consistent statement when asked whether he is interested to run for governor.
The political destiny of Gov. Chatto and Rep. Rene Relampagos is closely being, monitored by the mayors. Both leaders belong to the Liberal Party while Rep. Relampagos belongs to the so-called “super majority” which is in some way now connected to the administration party.
What makes it more exciting in the 2019 polls is because Gov. Chatto, Rep. Relampagos and Rep. Yap are all last termers, leaving their posts very attractive to those interested to run. What seems to happen is the perceived “exchange of posts” by Gov. Chatto and Rep. Relampagos as governor and congressman of the first district.
YAP’S POLITICAL FUTURE
Yap belonged to the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) before joining PDP-Laban.
Arroyo used to chair Lakas-Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-KAMPI-CMD) when she was president.
Yap said Speaker Alvarez has been a close friend to him since they had been cabinet members during Arroyo’s presidency where Yap was agriculture secretary and Alvarez was acting Secretary of Transportation and Communications.
Pangandaman was Arroyo’s Agrarian Reform secretary.
Yap said the invitation to join PDP-Laban was already there from the start, coming from Alvarez.
“Sugod pa sa sinugdanan naa nay imbitasyon—from the very start. If you remember, Bebot Alvarez is a very close friend namo. Former member naman namo sa cabinet ni former President Arroyo. Mao nga from the very start, naa nay imbitasyon that we shift to the PDP-Laban,” Yap said.
But two months ago, Alvarez told him that it was right time to show support to the President by joining his party.
“At that time, we set that maybe we should give it a little more time, because there were many negotiations ongoing. But in the last two months, Speaker Alvarez already said maybe it was already time tungod kay it’s a good time to show support to the President by joining his party,” Yap added.
Yap then consulted Arroyo, and Arroyo said she was also invited but it would be better for them to do it together. At that time, their schedules could not meet because of the bulk of work in Congress that they had to finish first.
They finally managed to align their respective schedules and set it on October 11.
Yap said that there was nothing special about the timing and that they just had to finish their projects before they found time to attend to the invitation to join PDP-Laban.
“Mao nga nakigkonsulta ko ni former President Arroyo and she also said ‘they were also inviting us already’, so former President Arroyo said ‘let’s just do it together’. So, we just waited for all our schedules to align. That’s the very simple reason. There was no special reason ngano man karon. We just took a little time to finish our projects and to do more things together and then at the right time, naturally, nag-align among schedules and then we took our oath together. There was nothing special about the timing,” Yap explained.
He added that for his part, he joined the administration party to show support to the President, while he also attends to his work as the chairman of the House Committee on Economic Affairs.
He also said there was no political positioning and that for him, he just wanted to assure that he continued his work as chairman of the House Committee on Economic Affairs.
“I talked to Speaker Alvarez that there is no problem to move to show support to President Digong, For me, I just want to make sure ang chairmanship ko sa Economic Affairs is not affected tungod kay there’s so much work. There are so many bills we are running after right now. There are many bills that I filed. So much work is going on right now. He said ‘that’s alright’. With that, I consulted former President Arroyo and former President Arroyo said that ‘yeah, hwag ka muna, Art ha, because we have other matters that we’d like to fix’. So,naghuwat ra ko niya. Patiently, just waiting. Nothing special. No pressure. Until lately, Arroyo said ‘Ok, I’ll take it this time’. So that’s the time we joined,” Yap said.
Yap added that he already invested so much time in his work as chair of the House Committee on Economic Affairs, and he cannot just lose his chairmanship.
As to speculations that his shift to PDP-Laban is a positioning at vantage point for the 2019 gubernatorial race, Yap said the support of the President might be significant, but he does not want to speculate what his advice would be.
As of now, he focuses on his work since campaign positioning for 2019 still has two years to work on and it is not yet time for it.
All he is up to is to unify Bohol and not to insist on his plans if it would only divide Bohol that might affect the support for the President.