Cabinet Secretary Leoncio “Tuloy” Evasco, seething with sarcasm and appalled by the widespread corruption inflicted by what he labelled as Bohol’s “ruling corrupt triad” – rejected the prospect of a unity ticket that would include last termers Representatives Arthur Yap and Rene Relampagos of the 3rd and 1st districts respectively.
In a 45-minute freewheeling interview that covered wide-ranging national and local issues over DYRD “Inyong Alagad” last Thursday, Evasco torpedoed a floating scenario advanced by political pundits over a unity ticket involving either Evasco or Yap as the administration’s official candidate for governor in the May 2018 mid-term elections.
Evasco unleashed a barrage of criticisms against Yap, his potential rival for official administration candidate for governor in Bohol not sparing Yap’s close allies – Governor Edgar Chatto and Relampagos.
Mincing no words, Evasco singled out Yap as a “butt licker” having flitted from one party to another to suit his vested political interests and blasted his progeny as a “non-boholano”
Evasco also identified Governor Edgar Chatto, Relampagos, and Yap as members of the “corrupt triad”, denouncing them for stunting the development of Bohol.
This latest episode in the long-running feud between Evasco and the three officials has again brought to the public eye the apparent contrasting approach in advancing the development agenda of the province.
Yap and Evasco were both party mates of the National People’s Coalition (NPC) with Yap as Chairman together with 2nd district Congressman Aris Aumentado.
Yap during the 2010 elections run unopposed under the Lakas-Kampi while in the 2013 and 2016 congressional elections moved to the NPC and secured the provincial chairmanship and just recently took his oath as Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) member, the present ruling political party of the country.
Unlike the three political figures which he slammed for corruption, Evasco bore down on the evils of shifting political loyalties in exchange for patronage under the guise of securing assistance for their bailiwicks.
Evasco recalled that as Maribojoc mayor he worked within the bounds of the existing bureaucracy and did not parlay the development needs of his municipality for political expediency.
The former priest and New People’s Army rebel declared that he will “die as a member of the NPC.”
Chatto and Relampagos remain as Liberal Party members.
FOR THE BOHOLANOS
Yap who is abroad when requested to respond to Evasco’s tirades hurled against him texted the Chronicle “With the leadership of President Duterte and his slogan of Pagbabago which I strongly adhere to, I prefer not to engage in character assassination, negativity, and name-calling.”
The former Department of Agriculture Secretary during the term of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo also stressed that “I would rather place more emphasis on achievements and talk about my plans for the province and people of Bohol which mainly centers on the upliftment of the lives of the Boholanos.”
A Boholano by affinity, Yap is married to Carol whose mother, Annie Varquez Gow who hails from Loboc. On May 13, 2010, the Commission on Elections 2nd Division declared Yap as a resident of Loboc.
Just recently, Yap and Evasco figured in a heated down the wire battle for the hearts and minds of the Boholanos waged by their sympathizers in an informal call and text survey conducted by “Inyong Alagad” on, July 16, 2018.
Evasco eked out a slim margin as the people’s choice as administration candidate for governor despite his huge lead during the first part of the program that slowly vanished after a barrage of calls from Yap’s supporters flooded the station at the second half of the two-hour program.
DEAD ON THE WATER
An emerging script surfaced after Yap expressed a strong desire to run as governor while Evasco dithered on his political plans for the coming elections maintaining that all will depend on the intervention of President Rodrigo Duterte.
But even if Duterte will give his blessings for Evasco to run for governor, the former Maribojoc mayor said that he still has to weigh his options considering his age, now 74 and the huge financial burden that will fuel his political campaign as ranged against the political war chest of Yap, Chatto, and Relampagos.
Evasco believes the three will gang up on him if he runs for governor because if he wins true change will come to Bohol.
GOVERNOR OR NOTHING
Asked if he would slide down to run as congressman of the 1st district of which he is qualified, to avoid possible disunity within the party, Evasco retorted “I am not interested in getting percentages” (dili ko interesado ma-morsiyento) apparently referring to alleged practice of congressmen of exacting a certain percentage from the budget of projects in their districts from the contractors.
As the situation has evolved, if Evasco will run for governor, his possible vice governor will either be Congressman Aris Aumentado, the 2nd district top political heavyweight or Vice Governor Dionisio Balite who commands a considerable constituency in the 3rd district, now considered Yap’s bailiwick.
Aumentado intimated to the media that he would finish his 3rd term as 2nd district congressman while Balite preferred to run as the 3rd district representative which will be left vacant next year after Yap completes his nine years of service.
To pursue his dream to run for governor, will Yap go head to head against Evasco with Relampagos as his running mate or accept a cabinet position which according to Yap should be of his choice.
In effect, Evasco, if consulted by Duterte about a possible political configuration that will involve the Liberal Party in Bohol will be immediately rebuffed leaving the administration groping for a tandem that will fit the ideal model of Evasco.
On the other hand, Relampagos remained guarded in his public pronouncements on his future plans disclosing to the Chronicle that he is leaving his options open for what “destiny will bring in his political journey.”
During the interview, Evasco also expressed doubts that elections will be held next year, as scheduled, with the uncertainty of ironing out the myriad of contentious issues surrounding the manner proposed charter change will be conducted.
Evasco feared that unresolved issues will reach the Supreme Court even as the Senate and the House of Representatives have widened their gap on the issues of joint or separate voting on charter change and other hosts of issues that have threatened to delay the approval of the Federal form of government.
CALL OF DUTY
According to Evasco, “when Duterte won I thought I fulfilled my duty as his national campaign manager and eventually quietly retreating from public service.”
But to his astonishment, Duterte recalled him back to public service appointing him as Cabinet Secretary with 12 government agencies including the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council formerly headed by Vice President Leny Robredo, all under his wings.
Both Evasco and Yap has been making the rounds in the municipalities and barangays during the weekends apparently to advance their respective agendas – political or under the guise of public service.
A gaping political void caused by the end of the nine-year term of Governor Edgar Chatto next year remains wide-open as Evasco balked at the prospect of teaming up with candidates perceived to take a ride on the administration’s popularity to suit their interests. (Chito M. Visarra)