The political pot started to sizzle last week when separate gatherings of two major opposing political quarters, the “Padayon Bol-anon” and “Ang Bag-ong Bolanon” gathered their leaders in what was perceived as a “loyalty check” among their respective leaders.
For now, four names surfaced as possible candidates for governor as Gov. Edgar Chatto will end his three-year term leaving the position vacant.
They are Rep. Rene Relampagos, Rep. Art Yap, Vice Gov. Dionisio Balite and Rep. Aris Aumentado.
Former Gov. Relampagos who is serving his last term as congressman of the first district met his town mayors and three board members in the first district during a meeting at the Belian Hotel last Friday.
During an interview with the Chronicle, he categorically stated that as far as a “Padayon Bolanon” is concerned, it’s either he or last termer Rep. Arthur Yap who would be running for governor. Rep. Relampagos was firm enough to say that there will never be a gubernatorial clash between him and Rep. Yap.
“It’s one of us who will run for governor,” he said without elaborating on the options left for the one who will not run for governor.
Political observers noted that a Relampagos-Yap or Yap-Relampagos tandem could be possible in the gubernatorial and vice gubernortial fight in 2019.
The day before the meeting called by Relampagos, Rep. Aris Aumentado hosted a huge gathering of his leaders and friends during the book launching of “Erico Aumentado: A Great Boholano Leader” held at the Fortridge Pavilion in Dauis town.
Cabinet Secretary Leoncio “Jun” Evasco made an open declaration saying that “Aris could be another Aumentado to be a potential leader of Bohol.”
In his speech during the book launching of the solon’s late father, former Gov. Erico Aumentado, the Duterte official said “We will see in the near future of another Aumemtado to lead Bohol.”
Mayors of the second district viewed the statement of Sec. Evasco as an “endorsement” for Aumentado to run for governor.
The recent endorsement came as a welcome note to the drumbeaters of Aumentado who want the young solon run for governor in 2019 even as Aumentado himself denied any ambition to run for governor in 2019.
“I want to complete my last term as congressman during the 2019 polls,” Aumentado stressed.
The fourth gubernatorial timber is suspended Vice Gov. Dionisio Balite.
If elections will be done today, Balite is the most visible bet for governor considering his massive visibility down in the baragays in all corners of the province.
Balite is observed to be attending in all events in the municipalities making himself visible in almost all activities in the city and province.
Rep. Yap who is also serving his last term as congressman of the 3rd district is perceived to be a close contender for governor considering his massive visitations in the countrysides down to the barangay level.
His second term as solon in the third district brought him to almost all the remote barangays under his district.
In fact, some sources from the Aumentado camp noticed Yap to have been seen in the second congressional district.
The other option left for Yap if he gives the gubernatorial bid to Relampagos is a Cabinet position under the Duterte administration. He has been appointed as House chair on economic affairs, In fact, Yap has been going along with Pres. Rodrigo Duterte in his trips abroad, especially to China.
It may be recalled that Yap held a top position in the Arroyo Cabinet as secretary of the Department of Agriculture.
Last termer Rep. Relampagos said he can take “whatever position” will be left for him.
He did not deny the possibility of running as Yap’s running mate if the latter will run for governor.
Relampagos, however, denied reports that he is interested to run for city mayor against Mayor Baba Yap in 2019.
The young solon even said he can “take a temporary rest” after his last term as congressman. He has served nine years as congressman of the first district and two terms as provincial governor.
The informal endorsement of CabSec Evasco on the young Aumentado’s gubernatorial bid came as a surprise to the Boholanos.
But Aris quickly dispelled the mayors’ observation over Evasco’s statement, saying “sunod niya,” meaning he may be the next governor after Evasco without explanation.
Evasco’s ‘endorsement’ of Aris further supported the speculation that he (Aris) is for governor following plan for consolidation of forces of Particokratiko Pilipino-lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), Nacionalista Party (NP) and Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).
PDP-Laban sources said that House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez was supposed to induct new converts of PDP-Laban but there’s still need to follow procedures under party rules.
Evasco, earlier, told media that he’s not inclined to gun for governor in Bohol but rather stay as ordinary citizen in his hometown, Maribojoc, where he was the former mayor for three terms (2007-2016).
Aris also unequivocally said earlier that he’s not running for the highest post of the province but to finish his term after 2019.
After the book launching, a meeting of the party stalwarts ensued and tackled the next moves to strengthen the group, formerly the Bohol United Opposition (BUO) headed by Aris and Vice-Governor Dioning Balite, who was not around but only his son, Victor, 3rd district provincial board member.
Evasco told the said meeting that Alvarez and Senate President Koko Pimentel, party’s president, wanted those who want to switch to PDP-Laban to undergo one day seminar.
Among those who attended the book launching were former Vice Gov. Julius Herrera, Danao Mayor Natty Gonzaga, and several mayors from the second district.
Yap was unopposed in 2010 and 2013 and he’s to complete his last term (2019) after defeating former Carmen Mayor Conchita “Che” Toribio delos Reyes in one-on-one congressional race on May 2016 polls.
LPs first district Congressman Rene Relampagos, whose last term will end in 2019, could probably try to regain his old post after he was trounced twice by the late Governor Erico Aumentado in 2001 and in 2004.
It will be recalled that Relampagos transferred his registration in Loay, the hometown of his wife, Imee Adiong, and ran for congressman in 2007. He was defeated by neophyte Rep. Adam Relson Jala, who was then a new lawyer and son of former Cong. Eladio Jala, by a slim margin. The younger Jala is an incumbent city councilor.