Incumbent Cebu Governor Hilario “Junjun” Davide’s decision to slide down to the post of vice governor instead of seeking re-election was a shocker but did not really catch the local media and political observers off guard as the rumor that he will give way to Vice Governor Agnes Magpale had been swirling a few days before he finally showed up at the Commission on Elections to file his certificate of candidacy for the number 2 post in the province.
According to Junjun, he made the decision to save his political allies because otherwise they will be included in the “narco-list,” a supposed list up of suspected drug traffickers prepared by police authorities. The insinuation that 3rd district Rep. Gwendolyn “Gwen” Garcia who is running for governor under the One Cebu-PDP Laban banner, is behind the alleged threat was immediately dismissed by the former lady governor. She described the allegation an insult to the mayors.
That Junjun has forged alliances even among Garcia supporters is believable because he has been at the helm of Capitol for the past five years and has brought various projects to the countryside on the back of his mild temperament. A sitting governor has control of the Capitol machinery, which translates to 50% of the votes, according to a grizzled politician. But obviously being a Liberal Party stalwart dilutes these pluses for Junjun Davide.
By aligning himself with the administration party through Agnes Magpale who is a blood relative of President Duterte, Junjun has shown political astuteness that even his harshest critics grudgingly acknowledge.
I don’t believe he is scared to run against Gwen. For one thing, the Ombudsman has ordered her dismissed from service and perpetually disqualified from running for public office in connection with the purchase of the Balili property when she was still governor in 2008. Gwen, who is no stranger to epic battles, has asked the Supreme Court to review the Ombudsman order. One thing is sure, the 2019 gubernatorial contest will be a blockbuster.
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After Vice Governor Agnes Magpale filed her certificate of candidacy last week, I saw a picture of her in social media together with Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte.
I thought the photo op was in connection with Bakud sealing an alliance with Hugpong Ng Pagbabago (HNP) but in a visit here yesterday, she denied claims of an alliance with the local party of Vice Governor Magpale. Bakud is the local party founded by the Duranos, the dominant political clan of Cebu’s 5th district. Still, I think Mayor Sarah’s declaration that she is not supporting any gubernatorial line up in Cebu is a welcome development for the Magpale-Davide tandem.
Mayor Sarah heads HNP and is considered the power behind President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. To amplify this point, it was PRRD himself who publicly declared that Mayor Sarah is the force behind the ouster of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
HNP has sealed alliances with major national parties: Nacionalista Party led by Senator Cynthia Villar, National Unity Party (NUP) of Congressman Fredenil Castro and Ronaldo Puno, Nacionalist People’s Coalition (NPC) led by businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco. I wonder how these developments lend to the status of PDP-Laban as the administration party. Interestingly, the Garcias are also identified with NUP and NPC.
As for regional parties cozying up with Mayor Sarah Duterte, the list is also significant: Serbisyo Ng Bayan of Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte whose father Sonny Belmonte is identified with the Aquinos; Aggrupation of Party for Progress led by Romeo Jalosjos; Ilocano Timpuyog of Imee Marcos, Kambilan of Pampanga and Padayon Pilipino of Misamis Oriental led by former Misamis Oriental Governor Vicente Emano and Abaka in Bohol chaired by Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco.
As a regional party, HNP is mobilizing local support for national candidates belonging to PDP-Laban but Mayor Sarah is leaving a few slots for Senate bets favored by local allies. In other words, HNP maybe open to a mixed slate that could well include Liberal Party candidates.
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