Saturday, August 9, 2014

Bongbong endorses Antonino as Ecija gov bet

JAEN, Nueva Ecija – He says the elections are still too far away to talk about politics.

          But Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., gave himself away, endorsing a former congressman as his gubernatorial candidate in the 2016 elections.

          In a brief exchange with the media during an out-of-town sortie here Saturday, Marcos referred to former three-term Rep. Rodolfo Antonino as “governor” amid reports that the latter, father of fourth district Rep. Magnolia Antonino, is seeking the governorship.

          Antonino has not officially declared his gubernatorial bid although reports going around said his running mate is outgoing three-term second district Rep. Joseph Gilbert Violago.

          Antonino comes from a family of politicians. His father Gaudencio was sitting senator and was running for reelection when he died in a helicopter accident in 1969, a day before the elections. Gaudencio’s wife Magnolia ran as a substitute candidate and won.

          One of the former congressman’s brother Adelbert was twice elected representative of South Cotabato and twice mayor of General Santos City while Adelbert’s wife Lualhati was also once congresswoman.

Antonino’s niece is Darlene Antonino, a former three-term representative who was best remembered for defeating boxing icon Manny Pacquiao in their congressional duel in South Cotabato in his first run at local politics.  

          Antonino is hoping to dislodge the camp of outgoing three-term Gov. Aurelio Umali from the Capitol where the latter has ruled since unseating the Josons from their 48-year reign. He was best remembered for ending the decades-old reign of the Villareals in the fourth district.

          Antonino is not only counting on votes from his southern Nueva Ecija bailiwick but also from the support of the Josons and Cabanatuan Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara who is feuding with Umali, his former political ally.   

Umali’s wife, third district Rep. Czarina Umali, is already a declared gubernatorial bet.

          Marcos came here on the invitation of the elder Antonino who showed up with some of his mayoral allies, namely San Antonio Mayor Antonino Lustre, Cabiao Mayor Gloria Crespo-Congco and Jaen Mayor Santiago Austria.

          When Marcos posed for a photo-ops with newsmen, Antonino volunteered to take the shot himself, prompting the senator to tell the scribes, “See, you have a congressman for your photographer. And one who will become governor,” he said.

          Antonino took the compliment with a smile.

          Earlier, Marcos, when asked about his political plans, declined to make any specific response.

          He said he is  definitely not retiring in 2016 and will be a candidate for certain positions.    “There is too much to do. There’s little time to speak about politics. It’s not yet part of the discussions,” he said. (Manny Galvez)  

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