A most interesting 45-day circus
posted 10-Apr-2019  ·  
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Less than a week into the 45-day campaign period allotted for local candidates, the 195,000 voters of Catanduanes are once again in the midst of a political circus.L

All three major political groups made their opening salvos within the first three days, with the camp of Governor Joseph Cua, Vice Governor Shirley Abundo, congressional candidate Hector Sanchez, and allies of former Vice Gov,. Jose Teves Jr. joined by former governor and congressman Leandro Verceles Jr. as Sanchez’s campaign manager.

Politics is indeed the art of the possible. Otherwise, who would have thought that Teves and Verceles, who once masterminded Cua’s gubernatorial defeat in 2013, would be campaigning together six years later?

The new allies formally proclaimed their candidates in the municipal and provincial levels in a well-attended event at the Cua family-owned Virac Town Center.

The brother tandem of Congressman Cesar Sarmiento, now running for governor, and Atty. Jorge Sarmiento followed suit the next day with the motorcade from Bato to Virac, with a proclamation rally held on Sunday at the town plaza.

Former Gov. Araceli Wong, now aiming for the congressional seat that has eluded her for three frustrating elections in the past, contended herself with a motorcade from Bato to Virac and San Andres before gathering her supporters at her Moonwalk residence.

It was only former Congressman Joseph Santiago, who recently insisted before local media that he would not withdraw from the race for his old seat, who was missing. His house is unremarkably absent of the blazing lights at night, the open gate and the hive of activity that used to be seen when he was still active in politics.

There remains three serious candidates in the congressional race and two in the gubernatorial contest (the other two are deemed by voters to be mere distractions), Vice Gov. Abundo being considered a shoo-in for reelection.

In the battle for CS’ seat, Atty. Jorge is the most eminently qualified, having served as presidential appointee in all administrations from Cory Aquino to Rodrigo Duterte. But he will have to contend with the considerable local support and wealth of Wong, as well as the healthy finances of former Gov. Sanchez backed by the Cua’s machinery.

It will be the battle for the capitol that is most interesting. Voters are no longer concerned with the unfortunate suspension of Gov. Cua, seen widely as politically motivated. What they see is a contrast between one who they feel is always there whenever they need help and one who would rather concentrate on infrastructure project and leave the matter of assistance to concerned government agencies.

     To be candid about it, the difference between the gubernatorial post and the congressional seat is that the latter gives the occupant much more funding (the current Congress reportedly appropriated themselves P200 million each in pork barrel funds) aside from his or her power to dole out DPWH projects (current budget for 2019 for Catanduanes projects is more than P3 billion).

     It makes you wonder how then Cong. Jose “Lesman” Alberto was able to implement long-lasting projects, buy his wife a yacht, and regularly dole out money to his constituents while doing enough to bankroll local athletes to successive championships in the Bicol Meet.

     When every candidate has money to go along with his or her qualifications and accomplishments, the playing field is more or less leveled and the choice becomes personal for the individual voter.

     This early many have already made their choices. The rest of the electorate probably need more time to think, especially if they feel that regardless of whom they elect, they still need to get up in the morning and go to work.


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