House Deputy Speaker Arthur Yap on Wednesday filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for his gubernatorial bid, marking the start of his long expected battle with fellow administration ally resigned Cabinet secretary Leoncio Evasco, Jr. for the province’s top government post.
Yap filed his COC at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) provincial office in Tagbilaran City with local coalition allies Representative Rene Relampagos and Governor Edgar Chatto, who are running for vice governor and first district congressman, respectively.
He was accompanied by his family and supporters who, like him, Chatto and Relampagos, were all clad in blue clothing.
Yap, the official gubernatorial candidate of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), teamed up with Chatto and Relampagos to form the “Padayon Bol-anon” alliance for the “continuing development” of Bohol while Evasco promises to bring a new brand of leadership.
In an interview with media, Yap downplayed doubts casted on his Bohol roots after Evasco took a swipe at him, saying he is a true Boholano unlike Yap.
“I’m a three-term congressman. Pila ka higayon na ko gi-balik-balik sa katungdanan sa mga ka-igsuonan nato sa third district. Mao akong pangutana, ‘nasayop ba ang atong mga kaigsuonan sa third district?’ For three terms, I have been a congressman, now I am deputy speaker. Pag-himo nakong deputy speaker, I was done so as congressman of Bohol. So kang kinsa ang garbo? Kanatong tanan,” Yap said.
According to Yap, insinuations against his being a Boholano will have no effect on his candidacy.
“I am not really affected by such a statement,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, that has no bearing this coming election.”
Yap is a Manila native who married Carolyne Gow-Yap of Loboc town where they share a house.
Meanwhile, it remained unclear on who the Duterte administration will be supporting during the province’s gubernatorial race in 2019.
Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go, Duterte’s most trusted aide, earlier said that it was still “too early” to tell whether the administration will support Evasco or Yap.
“It’s still too early for me to tell or to speculate. I am not authorized to speak in behalf of the President. So let’s just wait for the proper time kung kinsa iyang i-endorso. I am sure ang iyang buhaton para sa kaayuhan sa tanan sa Bohol,” said Go.
While Yap is running under Duterte’s party, PDP-Laban, Evasco who filed his COC for Bohol governor under the Nationalist People’s Coalition on Tuesday is a longtime ally of the President.
Evasco was tapped by Duterte to be his Cabinet secretary in 2016. He first worked for Duterte in 1989 in Davao City before he became a mayor of Maribojoc for three terms starting 2007.