President Rodrigo Duterte late on Wednesday arrived in Garcia Hernandez, Bohol to personally show support for the gubernatorial candidacy of his longtime ally, Leoncio Evasco, Jr., saying he made sure to make the trip to pay a debt of gratitude.
Duterte who was scheduled to arrive late Wednesday afternoon for the miting di avance of Evasco’s Tinuod Bol-anon coalition flew in on board a helicopter in Garcia Hernandez at around 9:30 p.m. following trips to other localities in the Visayas including Moises Padilla in Negros Occidental.
“So nia ko. Una, kay utang kabubut-on nako dako kaayo. Ika-duha, angay g’yud siya. He [Evasco] has been with me since day one sa akong pagka-mayor,” said Duterte in his speech during the miting de avance of Pundok Tinuod Bol-anon at the Garcia Hernandez municipal gymnasium.
According to Duterte, his parents instilled in him the trait of honoring a debt of gratitude which is also ingrained in the “Bisayan” culture.
“Mi-lupad g’yud ko, ingon ko na mo agto g’yud ta kay kita bayang mga Bisaya, kusog kaayo atong gitawag na utang kabubut-on. Lisud gyud na. Maoy akong natun-an sa akong mga ginikanan,” Duterte said.
Evasco has been allied with Duterte since 1988 when the latter was still starting out with his political career. Duterte however noted that while he was still a prosecutor, he had already met Evasco.
According to Duterte, he once asked members of the now-defunct Philippine Constabulary to hold off the execution of Evasco, who was then detained for his involvement in the communist-led underground movement.
“One day na tsambahan na sila [Evasco] sa scout rangers so gi-dala na sila sa kampo. Karon, gusto ihawon sa Philippine Constabulary. Ang uban gi-ihaw g’yud. Paghibaw nako—ako may inquest fiscal na-assign agtong adlawa—di mi-agto ko just to see and investigate…So kani siya nadakpan, ana-on pud unta, akong gi-angnan na ‘ayaw apila og patay ng pari, boang ka, gabaan ta ani tanan,” Duterte said.
Evasco would later become a three-term mayor of Maribojoc, Duterte’s campaign manager for the 2016 presidential elections and Cabinet secretary.
In the same speech, Duterte told the audience that they made the right decision for supporting Evasco. He said that he is not forcing anyone to vote for Evasco but noted that his longtime aide is the right man for the job.
“Ngano mangita mo’g lain nga adunay Bol-anon nga andam moserbisyo,” said Duterte.
It was the third time that Evasco was personally endorsed by a member of the Duterte family in Bohol amid the former Maribojoc mayor’s campaign which is heavily banking on the popularity of the President.
Evasco rose to become one of the possible gubernatorial contenders last year after serving as Duterte’s Cabinet secretary.
On March 20, presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio endorsed Evasco’s gubernatorial bid during a campaign caravan of her regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago in Tagbilaran City. She later returned on April 30 to do the same in another political rally.