The Padayon-Bol-anon coalition, led by the provincial administration, and opposition coalition Tinuod Bol-anon have gone back and forth over the past weeks with tirades against each other which were culminated by Provincial Administrator Alfonso Damalerio II’s threat to hang gubernatorial candidate Leoncio Evasco, Jr. on February 28 if Evasco could not substantiate drug allegations hurled against him.
But on the supposed day of hanging, the threats and allegations have been unraveled and seen for what they truly are—political mudslinging and bellicose rhetoric.
Damalerio did not show up to hang Evasco from a flagpole while Evasco’s drug allegations against Damalerio remained unsubstantiated.
Both however did not miss the opportunity to take a swipe at each other on the “day of hanging.”
Evasco, during a campaign sortie at the Maribojoc Municipal Gymnasium, placed a noose around his neck with the rope’s other end held by vice-gubernatorial bet Board Member Tomas Abapo, Jr., apparently mocking Damalerio.
Earlier this month, Damalerio challenged Evasco to prove drug allegations against him before February 28. Damalerio said that he would reinstall the flagpole flying the Bohol flag at the Maribojoc town hall, which was previously ordered removed by Evasco, and hang the former Cabinet secretary there if he failed to prove the accusations before the deadline.
Evasco on Thursday also poked fun at Damalerio through social media as he posted a photo of the Maribojoc town hall on Facebook with the caption “We are waiting for you Chatto and Ae Damalerio. Wer na u?”
Damalerio and Governor Edgar Chatto led the Provincial Peace and Order Council meeting at the Governor’s Mansion in Tagbilaran City on the same day.
For his part, Damalerio brushed off Evasco’s drug allegations anew, calling the gubernatorial bet “a biased desperate candidate.”
Damalerio asked the public to divert their attention from the “hanging” and instead focus on Evasco’s “lie.”
“Let’s not focus on the ‘hanging’ being only clearly creating a statement about demanding proof. Let’s focus on Evasco’s propensity to lie and malign those who cross his way,” said Damalerio in a statement posted online.
Damalerio had earlier claimed that he has been cleared by law enforcement agencies including the Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency of any involvement in the drug trade.
“Evasco acted from his failure to produce evidence of his accusation against me and Gov. Chatto. The message of my statement was very clear. If he fails to produce evidence, then it only means he just capitalized on his political propaganda,” he said.
Damalerio and Evasco’s verbal tussle stemmed from a statement of Evasco reportedly blaming the Chatto administration for the alleged proliferation of illegal drugs in Bohol.
“Beside him [Chatto] is the provincial administrator who is behind drugs in Bohol,” Evasco reportedly said while visiting Boholano overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong early in February.
While the opposition has long been alluding that incumbent officials in the province are included in President Duterte’s so-called “narco-list,” none have so far been named to be part of the infamous drug list.
Evasco is running for governor against Third District Representative and Deputy Speaker Arthur Yap, who is supported by Chatto through the Padayon Bol-anon coalition. (with a report from A. Doydora)