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Davao City, Philippines

Rooting for Digong’s team

May 14, 2019 - Tuesday 4:05 AM by Jimmy Laking

Like President Digong, I was hoping that Dong Mangudadatu would make it to the Magic 12 of winning senatorial candidates.

It has been sometime, 20 years at most, since a Muslim Senator in Santina Rasul occupied a seat in Senate.

If it were basketball, I am including Mangudadatu in the First Five, to include Koko Pimentel as team captain and rebounder, Bong Go as court general, General Bato and Mangudadatu as guards and Villar as forward.

If it were basketball, I was also hoping Dr. Willie Ong, the heir apparent to the late Senator Juan Flavier to make it to the “team.”  The Philippine Senate methinks needs his professional expertise.

Believe me when I say that as in basketball, the ball is also round even in politics. In the words of Baguio City’s Peter Rey Bautista, there are really good politicians, but there are also the lucky ones who can do the equivalent of three-point shots in basketball.

In politics, as well as in basketball or in golf, there are bad breaks. Why, Tiger Woods played the Augusta a hundred times but won it only four or five times in his numerous tries.

Bautisa said controversies are bound to haunt one’s political chances whether or not there is truth in them or not. In Tiger’ case, he said, it was mostly his fault as the controversies occurred out of the golf course.

“Public perception is like the crowd jeering or cheering you on,” Bautista said.

The lucky ones may refer to those who have inherited family names that are known to most households due to cinema. Despite no proven track records as legislators, they still continue to tantalize voters.

The results of the May 13 election will prove if they are still relevant.

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It’s a do-or-die contest between deposed House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez against Governor Anthony del Rosario for the right to represent the second district of Davao del Norte.

Alvarez is fighting to stay alive. Del Rosario, whose family has been undefeated in politics for the past 30 years, wanted exactly to deny that. Del Rosario accused the former of denying the province congressional allotment when he was Speaker and of imposing a P4-billion flyover in Tagum City bereft of consultation and National Economic Development Authority approval.

Their differences are as day is to night. Alvarez is aligned with his own wing of the PDP-Laban. Del Rosario is the regional Hugpong ng Pagbabago bet, a party that Davao City’s Mayor Sara and regional officials formed to distance themselves from Alvarez.

On family matters, Alvarez has filed a bill to dissolve marriage as well as a divorce law. Del Rosario prefers an intact family.

Alvarez backs death penalty while del Rosario says he is pro-life. Del Rosario is careful about his language and has not been linked to corruption.

If successful, Alvarez has made no secret his desire to seek the post of House Speaker anew. Del Rosario’s uncle, first district Rep. Antonio Floirendo, has categorically declared he would aspire as House Speaker to ensure a stable Duterte administration in its three remaining years.

Ironically, it was Floirendo who helped revived Alvarez’ sagging career after he was turned down several times by the Commission on Appointments as Transportation Secretary under then President Arroyo. According to del Rosario, Floirendo provided Alvarez the funds to campaign and to win in 2016.

But as House speaker, Alvarez initiated house investigations in a bid to prove that Floirendo committed an irregularity when the family-owned Tagum Development Corporation entered into a joint venture agreement with the Bureau of Prisons.

He also adverted to the Floirendos as landgrabbers in a presscon with reporters in Manila. Floirendo countered with a libel sought that the Quezon City prosecutor’s office recommended for filing.

Davao del Norte’s first district is composed of Tagum City the capital and the towns of Asuncion, Kapalong, New Corella, Talaingod, and San Isidro with a population of 504,000 as of the 2015 census. Alvarez is backed by Tagum City Mayor Alan Rellon and various religious groups. Del Rosario is backed by village-based organizations identified with the Roman Catholic Church. He has Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio campaigning for him.  

The local media community is also split in the middle. Vote-buying is not discounted. Public opinion says Alvarez is now awash with funds but no one is discounting the del Rosarios’ proven resources.

President Duterte is not talking but he summoned del Rosario to Villamor Air Base in April to raise his hand and to endorse his candidacy. That may yet gave the edge, but no one knows for sure.

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