Former Cabinet secretary and gubernatorial candidate Leoncio Evasco, Jr. continued to defend his absence from the lone candidates’ forum in Bohol, saying that he is not on the same level as those who attended the event, Deputy Speaker Arthur Yap and comedian Roberto Reyes, popularly known as Amay Bisaya, who are also running for governor.
“Didto nako nakita na ang balor ni Art Yap pareho ra pud sa balor ni Amay Bisaya. Kinsa man diay mi estorya didto [forum]? Si Amay Bisaya ug si Art Yap, pareho ra’g ranggo, pareho ra’g lebel. Ngano man kuno mo apil ko didto,” said Evasco in an interview with the media on Thursday.
Prior to to the guberatorial forum organized by the Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) on Tuesday, Evasco begged off from joining the event due to the “limited” time allocation for candidates to answer the forum’s introductory question “why should the Boholano people vote for me.”
After the forum however, Evasco raised several other concerns including allegations of partiality from the organizers.
According to Evasco, he would have been treated unfairly at the event, as he accused the BCCI of favoring Yap and other members of the latter’s coalition.
The event which was held at the University of Bohol gymnasium in Tagbilaran City was a “trap” for him, Evasco said.
“Kadtong ilang gibuhat nila na pasudlon ko, laang to sa akoa. Katigulang na nako aning kalibutana unya malaang pa ko, boang,” he said.
“Daghana membro niana [BCCI] na di man g’yud na makahatag sa ako og usa ka makiangayon na panahon, makiangayon na hukom tungod kay sila dapig na man ni Art Yap, dapig naman ni Rene, dapig naman ni Chatto,” he added.
However, the same questions were given to all the candidates who joined the series of fora. They were also allotted exactly the same time to answer each of the questions at three minutes.
The BCCI’s gubernatorial and congressional fora—which, as organizers have repeatedly explained, are not debates—have been applying the same mechanics since 2010. Evasco was the first to have “reservations” over the rules of the event.
“Mao nana atong mechanics sukad pa sauna. Sa akong gisulti ganina sa akong welcome remarks nga ika upat na ni na naghimo kita aning candidates’ forum sa upat na ka election ug wa man yamoy issues ani bahin aning introduction,” said Albert Uy, president of the BCCI, during the congressional edition of the forum on April 16.
The event was attended by Third District congressional bets Vice Governor Dionisio Balite, retired judge Carlos Fernando and Board Member Alexie Tutor. Former Carmen mayor Cheche Toribio-Delos Reyes skipped the forum due to a prior commitment that required her presence in Manila.
The fora for First District and Second District Congressional bets which were supposedly to be held in one event was cancelled as only First District candidate Governor Edgar Chatto and Second District candidate Board Member Agapito Avenido, who both belong to Pundok Padayon Bol-anon, agreed to join the activity.
Organizers decided to cancel the forum as there was no representation from Pundok Tinuod Bol-anon as partymates Rep. Aris Aumentado and former Tagbilaran City Mayor Dan Lim who are running for Second District and First District representatives, respectively, were not available during the set date for the event.
According to Uy, the BCCI is impartial and is not favoring any candidate.
The series of fora was organized for the public to be guided on who to vote for during the midterm elections, he added.