Cely to become island’s 1st lady rep – JB Wong
posted 8-Nov-2018  ·  
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CAMPAIGN MANAGER. Jardin Brian Wong gestures as he explains to the local media the dynamics of local elections.

Surprise 2016 gubernatorial race runner-up Jardin Brian Wong disclosed last week that he will head the campaign machinery that will seek to install his mother Araceli as Catanduanes’ first lady representative in Congress next year.

In a press conference last Saturday morning at Fernando’s, JB expressed hope that they will produce at least two congressmen, referring to brother PBM Joseph Al-Randie Wong’s bid to become a partylist representative.

“Mabigat ang laban but we will rely heavily on Cely Wong’s performance as governor that speaks a lot of her accomplishments,” he said. “The potential is there. Sayang kung hindi mabibigyan ng magandang vision.”

As to earlier questions about his mother’s health and back problem, JB disclosed that she is physically fit, having fully rested during the past three years.

“Mentally, napakaganado. She draws inspiration from her first grandchild,” he bared. “We have proven that we never back down as we will fight it out to the end.”

He brushed aside observations that Cely’s 1-4 record at the polls does not augur well for her chances in the four-man 2019 congressional race.

“Nandiyan ang pagpupursigi. The will to help remains. We reach out as one family here where we started,” the young businessman shared.

Each election has a different dynamic, Wong explained, adding that they know what worked in 2013 and why they lost in 2016, and they will apply all the lessons they have learned.

“The dynamics favor us. Dati-rati, hati-hati ang Norte. Ngayon, hati naman ang Virac,” he observed. “We will utilize whatever resources we have at our disposal.”

The former governor’s son said that their machinery is more than enough so they are not considering separate alliances with municipal mayors, other town aspirants as well as candidates for governor and vice governor.

“We will talk directly to the people to ask them what projects they prefer,” JB stated, describing their strategy as part of a proactive leadership.

The Wong campaign plans to address the island’s power crisis by utilizing its wide network of potential investors.

It does not matter that her mother is not a lawyer like two of her male rivals, he countered, as they can always hire lawyers to craft bills and they would all see to it that the best interest of the people is served.

“What is good is that we don’t owe a debt of gratitude to anyone, so if we win, we will not be dictated upon,” JB stressed, adding that Cely can push through her projects for the province using her connections.

“Catanduanes’ political dynamics do not accept that one family would control both the gubernatorial and congressional posts,” he pointed out, referring to the Sarmiento brothers’ combined poll bids.

“There’s a possibility that both of them will lose or both of them will win,” Wong opined. “My mom’s running for Congress and Tiptip’s party list bid are two different things.”

Manay Cely would work for Catanduanes only while PBM Wong’s BANAT partylist has a national scope and promotes the welfare of barangays. However, he clarified, they will handle both congressional and partylist campaigns in the island.

He refused to comment on allegations of corruption leveled against past and current leaders but insisted that only former Gov. Wong made a proper turnover of power at the capitol and that she did not abuse her position.

Asked to comment on commissions demanded from government infrastructure projects, he emphasized that the Wongs are for development. “Kung ganyan (corruption) ang gagawin mo, mahihirapan ang contractor na maisaayos ang project.”

He also described the payment of Permit to Campaign (PTC) fees as a violation of law, saying that it is unfair to most candidates who do not have money. He said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) will have to guarantee the safety of the candidate during the campaign.

On his mother’s Friendship Bridge pet project, JB revealed that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has already allocated P100 million for the conduct of its feasibility study, after which the project will have to be finally approved by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

The DPWH would either undertake it on its own or find foreign partners to finance its construction. He admitted, however, that it could take a backseat to the more vital Matnog-Allen bridge link.

“It will come to fruition within our lifetime,” JB said, adding that it would be important in Catanduanes’ vision to become big in the tourism scene in the next five years.

On a more personal note, he bared that his loss in 2016 gave him the chance to prove himself in business.

“I was back to work in three days, as there is no point in making ‘tampo’,” he disclosed, saying that if ever he won, he could not have built his P2-billion office space project in the Manila Bay area.

“Nothing’s final as far as my future political undertaking is concerned,” JB stated. “If there’s a chance, puede as long as it has a purpose but my priority right now is Manay Cely.”

“Between us, Manay Cely knows the problem on the ground, which is providing livelihood. It’s important that we lay down the foundation for the province’s progress,” he added.

Admitting that Cely and Joseph Santiago earlier discussed the possibility that they would not run against each other, the young Wong said he does not know if there are any backdoor negotiations.

“If any of the other candidates feel they would not win and would prefer a common candidate, why not?” he said.

If she wins, Manay Cely will work to implement her platform of government and try to clinch the chairmanship of the House committee on agriculture to protect and develop the abaca industry.

The campaign manager, who will have former DTI provincial director Ireneo Panti Jr. as consultant and co-spokesperson, said that to avoid a repeat of her close 2010 defeat which he said they won, Manay Cely will have to win convincingly.

“Our leaders will have to be extra vigilant,” JB stated. “We will be on guard until the proclamation.”

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