As had happened in 2013, a two-party slugfest is shaping up in Bohol for the mid-term polls in May 2019.
This could be between the Padayon Bol-anon Party led by Governor Edgar Chatto, Rep. Rene Relampagos of the 1st District and Rep. Art Yap of the 3rd District and the current national dominant party – the PDP-Laban led here by Vice Governor Dionisio Balite and Cabinet Secretary Leoncio “Jun” Evasco.
Balite told the Chronicle that even as the designated chairman of the party in Bohol, he is giving way in endorsing Cabinet Sec. Evasco as the party’s standard bearer for governor. It may be recalled that Balite emerged victorious in his intra-party tiff with former Panglao mayor Doloreich Dumaluan three months ago.
Balite is set to call a party confab shortly but admitted the directional hand of the president as to who would run for governor under PDP-Laban carries tremendous weight. It is known that the president had encouraged some of his close associates and cabinet members to run for national office.
It is not immediately known when and if Evasco will soon ask for the official blessings of the highest official of the land. Evasco, who has been with Duterte for decades says he serves at the pleasure of the president in any capacity the president wants.
Evasco had served full circle in government -starting out in the executive branch while in the Davao City government, three terms as elected Maribojoc mayor and now an important cabinet member holding multifarious government agencies. He started out as a rebel jailed by the government but later joining the mainstream government as democracy got back into the saddle with the departure of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
On a personal note, Balite – on the other hand-noted that he would personally like to see Bohol in the best of “peace and security and as a haven for education”. Although the NPA movement has dissipated largely- there is news of slow incursions, “partly due to the apathy of local leadership”.
With his family business linked to educational institutions- Balite said he had personally seen how just one college graduate in a family made a difference in the economic lot of the families.
RENE – PREFERRED GOV-CANDIDATE SPEAKS
Relampagos who emerged the early popular vote favorite in an informal dyRd radio survey followed by Yap, Evasco and Balite-said their party is solid and will soon assemble right after the barangay and SK elections.
He promised they will be a force to reckon with and will field a “complete slate from governor down to the councilors”. Rene said he and Art Yap have been in constant talks and one is willing to slide to back the other dependent on party consensus. “Not to run at all ” is even an option, the veteran politician former governor said.
In a statement, Relampagos said:” I thank God and the people of Bohol for the privilege given me to continue serving them as First District Representative. The people’s expression of preference for my possible consideration of running again for Governor in 2019 is deeply appreciated.”
Meanwhile, last-termer Chatto is bound to a home free as the party’s shoo-in candidate for the 1st district, a post he had earlier held in the past.
REP. YAP SETS CONDITIONS FOR RUNNING, TARGETS FOR GOVERNANCE
Last termer Yap, on the other hand, was more concrete with the factors that will influence his decision to run for governor: (a) certainty, that his experience, plan, his network will enable him to be a positive force for Bohol (b) consultation and endorsement of Bohol’s political leaders and his party and (c) after running a survey to know the people’s concerns, fears, hopes on various issues.
Given a stab at the governorship, Yap sees three target focus of his governance: (a) prices of goods and commodities to be of quality and affordability for our people and tourists (b) growing the local economy through more jobs based on “agro-tourism-food” program.
On this front, the former agriculture secretary and now chair of the Lower House ‘ economic affairs sees programs consistent with the creation of investments leading to jobs in the food economy and will put emphasis on the development of : agriculture education, health care, skills training, IT, telecoms, tec-voc, private-public partnerships, energy, protection of the environment and peace and order initiatives.
The third focus will be those consistent with the current national policy directives of the Duterte government and local provincial programs that are working.
The third district stalwart explained:” The next governor must be consultative, patient and open to all sectors with no room for grandstanding, vindictiveness and fault-finding.”
Programs working well must be sustained and what does not-discarded, he concluded.
TWO BOHOL PARTIES BUT MULTI-PARTY AFFILIATION
Though with two likely dominant provincial political parties – the individual bigwigs will continue to carry the nameplates of their original affiliations: Relampagos and Chatto are Liberals, Yap, Balite, and Evasco are PDP-Laban members.
Meanwhile, Rep Aris Aumentado, the undisputed king of second district politics, will remain an NPC member but is likely to throw his support to the PDP-Laban standard-bearer given his age-long feud with governor Chatto-dating back to the times of his late father, Rico Aumentado. He will be facing his last term come 2019 – and a bright political future ahead for the young Aumentado.
Political pundits place the two contending Bohol parties to be of at par strengths with the other.