Suspended governor’s silence-A A +A
Monday, March 18, 2013
I HAVE pointed this out in one of my columns before: the battleground for the elections in the province is not the Provincial Capitol but the towns and component cities. It is not even in the media, although it can influence voters’ thinking a bit.
The reach of TV and radio stations based in Metro Cebu ranges from uneven to none going to Cebu’s southern and northern tips and its western. Newspapers’ reach are more limited.
Campaign in provincial elections therefore requires actual and continued presence of the candidates, and this is truer for those running for governor and vice governor. By actual presence, I mean direct (physical presence) and indirect (organizational presence, meaning through local leaders). A candidate cannot just rely on name recall to win.
That’s why, if all things are equal, I would give the more aggressive and conscientious bet better chances of winning in the elections. In the case of a newcomer in provincial politics, the aggressiveness and conscientiousness need to be doubled.
This was why at the height of the tug-of-war over control of the Capitol following Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia’s suspension, I noted that the best option was for Garcia to leave the Capitol to Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale and bring her case directly to the voters in the province.
Circumstances eventually pushed her to do just that, especially because the Court of Appeals has refused to issue a temporary restraining order regarding her suspension.
After a few months, it looks like the governor has gone all-out in her sorties and the strengthening of her One Cebu Party as attested by her silence in the face of issues still being hurled at her through the media. She is running for the congressional post in the third district and that, together with providing help to her brother, gubernatorial bet Pablo John Garcia, must consume her daily routine now.
Interestingly Liberal Party (LP) gubernatorial candidate Hilario Davide III seems to be playing a catch-up game by increasing his presence in the province less than two months before the elections in May.
He must have realized that unlike in the 2010 polls where he rode on the coattails of Noynoy Aquino’s run for the presidency, this is now his own battle. But playing catch-up is already difficult considering his failure to strengthen the LP organization in the province immediately after Aquino became president almost three years ago.
Magpale’s taking the post of acting governor is not helping him either. The job requires her presence in the governor’s office most of the time and to jump into problems in governance that crop up. Davide can’t accompany her in activities in the towns and component cities done as part of functions or she would be accused of politicking. As a result, the only one that is benefiting from Gwen’s suspension is Magpale.
As things seem to be going now, Pablo John, with the help of his sister Gwen and the One Cebu Party machinery that has largely remained intact despite assault by the LP, together with his aggressive push around the province, is currently ahead.
It remains to be seen whether PJ’s running mate Boboy Durano can take advantage of One Cebu’s presence in the province and outpace Magpale, considering that he is a political upstart there and she is acting governor with many years of service in the province. Can he make his presence felt in the province with the elections so near?
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 19, 2013.