Saturday, April 12, 2014

Vergara’s wife running for Ecija gov?

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija–Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara - whose tandem with his former ally, Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali  - unseated the almost half-century reign of the Josons in 2007 and whose victory over Umali’s younger brother Anthony in their own mayoral duel in 2013 dealt the Umalis their first election loss in over a decade – has raised the possibility that his businesswoman-wife might run for governor in the 2016 elections.
Speaking to reporters at the sidelines of the closing ceremony and the symbolic awarding of firearms to 118 news soldiers who finished a three-month training course at the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation covered court here Friday where he was guest of honor and speaker, Vergara said his wife Rosanna will run if there is a popular clamor for her to do so and if this is the consensus of local leaders in the political opposition in the province.

          “If they choose Ria (Rosanna’s nickname) to be the standard-bearer for governor, then I cannot do anything about it,” he said.

          Vergara issued the statement after his wife’s name was floated as a prospective candidate for governor even as Umali is on his third and last term as governor. Rosanna, president of the First Cabanatuan Ventures Corp., is reportedly a dual citizen and a known cancer survivor. 

Several months ago, Umali declared his wife, outgoing three-term third district Rep. Czarina, is running to succeed him in the Capitol. The congresswoman has been making the rounds of the province to feel the pulse of Novo Ecijanos on her Capitol bid.

The lady lawmaker is chasing history as the province has yet to have a lady governor.

So far, three women run for the governorship but all lost by landslides : Virginia Custodio-Perez, former two-term fourth district congresswoman Julita Lorenzo-Villareal and former four-time first district Rep. Josie Manuel-Joson.

Custodio-Perez, wife of late Cabanatuan mayor Honorato Perez Sr. lost to Eduardo Nonato Joson in a battle of substitute candidates in 1995, Villareal to four-time governor Tomas Joson III in 2004 and Joson’s sister-in-law Manuel-Joson to Umali in 2013.

Political analysts have been giving Czarina a more than fair chance of winning because it will mark the first time that a lady gubernatorial aspirant has the backing of a sitting governor.

Should Rosanna decide to run for governor, it will mark the first time in history that two women will face off for the Capitol post.

The Vergaras and the Umalis used to be staunch allies but their partnership soured when the mayor started pushing for the conversion of the city  into a highly urbanized city, which the governor has opposed. This resulted in a bitter parting of ways with Vergara reuniting with the Josons.        

          Vergara said at present, there are ongoing talks within the ranks of the opposition and the consensus is to put up a common candidate. He said his wife is not yet officially in the mix as those leading in the list of gubernatorial candidates are outgoing second district Rep. Joseph Gilbert Violago and former three-term fourth district Rodolfo Antonino, father of incumbent Rep. Magnolia.

          Vergara, who has criticized the Umalis for establishing a political dynasty of their own which he said, was the reason why he opposed the Josons, said his stand against dynasties remain the same.

          “My stand against political dynasties won’t change. But if the opportunity is there and if Ria is convinced to run, it’s the right of everybody,” he said.

          He said his position has been that he and the others did not unseat a political dynasty just to be replaced by another dynasty, apparently referring to the Josons and the Umalis. 

Cuevas denies eyeing Congress in 2016

PALAYAN CITY, Nueva Ecija–Neophyte Mayor Adrianne Mae Cuevas on Friday denied reports she is eyeing Congress in 2016 which could put her in a possible collision course with her ally, outgoing Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali.

          Speaking to reporters at city hall here, Cuevas dismissed as baseless and absurd reports she will seek the third district congressional seat when she is just on her first term as mayor of this provincial capital.

          “Honestly, I have been preoccupied with solving and fixing the many problems left behind by the previous administration in Palayan. I think with the myriad problems I have to attend to, even one term, two terms or even a third term would not be enough to set the house in order,” said Cuevas who defeated former Light Rail Transit administrator Pacifico Fajardo – a former three-term congressman and three-term mayor – in the May 2013 elections.

          Cuevas stressed that her mission in running for mayor was to help alleviate poverty in the city by providing jobs and empowering the people, settle land and housing problems and make the city an emerging urban center in the future.     

          “It bears emphasizing that my main goal is to make Palayan City one of the most efficient local government units so aiming for another position would be veering away from that vision,” she said.

          She said that to be honest, she is not even sure if she would seek a second term. “That is, if my children would allow me to,” she said.

          Speculations over Cuevas’ supposed congressional bid have been spreading like wildfire in this city and in the third congressional district which also covers Cabanatuan City and the municipalities of Bongabon, Gen. Natividad, Laur, Gabaldon and Sta. Rosa, the hometown of Umali and his wife, outgoing three-term Rep. Czarina.

          With Czarina eyeing the governorship in 2016, there are reports that the governor is either running for vice governor to be his running mate or return to reclaim his wife’s post, which he held in 2001 and 2004.

          Cuevas said the issue about her supposed congressional bid is clearly a black propaganda campaign that could be intended to drive a wedge between her and the governor and his camp. She said this would not detract her from doing her job as local chief executive in keeping with the overwhelming mandate given her by the electorate in last year’s polls.  

          Cuevas said that she was happy to announce that barely eight months into her term, the city government was able to save around P80 million in funds through fiscal prudence by undertaking road-concreting projects by administration instead of by contracts.

          She said barangay roads have been paved through the bayanihan program where people in the barangays provide the labor force, a participatory program of governance first popularized by the Umali administration.

          She said that by the end of this year, she is hopeful that the city government would be able to pay loans incurred in the past to Pag-Ibig.

          “So as one can see, there is a lot of work to do here in Palayan that even my successor, supposing I have served out three terms of nine years in all, will have to deal with,” she said. 


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