Sunday, December 05, 2021

Nalzaro: Pandemic response a key election issue?


It has been confirmed that former Tourism Secretary and fifth district representative Joseph “Ace” Durano will challenge the reelection bid of Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia in next year’s elections. And his runningmate is Vice Governor Hilario “Junjun” Davide III. This scenario is like the 2019 elections when Davide was the incumbent governor with one more term to seek reelection but opted not to clash with Gwen and instead hid under the “skirt” of former Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale. Now, Davide is again hiding under Durano’s “pants.” Why doesn’t he run for governor instead?

Where has he been all these years since he became the vice governor? It’s only recently that I heard from him, when he encouraged people to get vaccinated. I even almost forgot that we have a vice governor. He should have played the role of a fiscalizer.

Ace said he decided to run because of Capitol’s “wrong handling” of the Covid-19 pandemic. Who said the present Capitol leadership has failed to handle the Covid-19 situation of the province? I don’t think the pandemic response is a key issue in the 2022 elections. If this is the only issue Ace will capitalize on against Gwen, I think he has a wrong platform. First, he should be prepared with data and figures to support his claim. And If he doesn’t have figures and data to back up his claim, he should shift to another issue.

Ace should also offer solutions to eliminate the Covid-19 crisis once he gets elected. He should not only criticize Gwen for not wearing a face mask in public. Or that Gwen did not appropriate a budget for the vaccine, did not equip the various provincial hospitals for Covid-19 patients, did not purchase medicines, etc. These are flimsy issues. Are the national government and even the richest and most powerful nations prepared for this health crisis?

And being the incumbent vice governor, Davide cannot also wash his hands on his responsibility in the Capitol’s alleged failure in its Covid-19 response. Whether he likes it or not, he is a part of the provincial government. What were his contributions? Did he recommend something that Gwen did not implement? Pursuing the issue on the “mishandling” of the pandemic against Gwen will boomerang on Davide. Pangita na lang mo’g laing isyu batok ni Gwen kay masupalpal mo ana.

Being an outsider looking in, I can say that Gwen’s Covid-19 response was not a failure. Yes, there were times when the Covid-19 cases in the province surged but they also went down. The same situation is happening in other local government units in Metro Cebu and even in Metro Manila where the so-called experts are based. If there were times Gwen made moves which contradicted the policies and guidelines of the national government especially the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, she did it because she wanted to balance her stand between protecting public health and reviving the economy.

The people in the province have a different orientation from those in the urban areas. The people there mostly rely on their small businesses and livelihood. That’s why when Gwen opened the economy in the province by reviving the tourism industry, they welcomed it. The relatives of overseas Filipino workers and returning overseas Filipinos who benefitted from Gwen’s maverick policies like the swab-upon-arrival policy and shortening of the quarantine period were happy with her move. Gwen could be a ‘kontrabida’ (villain) in the eyes of the national government but she is well-loved and appreciated by the Cebuanos.

Can Ace offer solutions to effectively fight Covid-19? If he can, then we will elect him not only as governor of Cebu but as president of this country. Let’s see the scattered (makitang katag).


I got a copy of the tentative list of candidates running for both the administration’s Barug, Kusug and Panaghiusa coalition and the opposition’s Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK). But this is not yet final as there might be last-minute changes.

For the Barug, Kusug and Panaghiusa coalition, the candidates are composed of newcomer and “recycled” politicians. Recycled means those who ran and lost in the previous elections. Vice Mayor Mike Rama is the mayoral candidate with Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia as his runningmate. Their councilorial slate in the north district includes incumbent councilors Joel Garganera and Jerry Guardo, Cebu’s topnotch physician, Dr. Peter Mancao, Atty. Mervin Legaspi (son of former councilor Maning Legaspi), vendors’ sector leader Maria Pino Buanghug, Jaypee Labella (Mayor Ed Labella’s son), former councilor Noel Wenceslao and Pastor Alcover. Councilor Niña Mabatid is their congressional candidate.

In the south district are reelectionists Dondon Hontiveros, James Cuenco, Junjun Osmeña, Philip Zafra, former councilor Joy Pesquera, City Attorney Rey Gealon, Cogon Pardo Barangay Captain Harry Eran and Quiot Barangay Captain Francis “Pangkoy” Esparis. Edu Rama is Barug’s congressional candidate.

In the BOPK side, outgoing south district Rep. Rodrigo “Bebot” Abellanosa is the mayoral candidate and his runningmate is Association of Barangay Council President Franklyn Ong. BOPK’s councilorial slate in the north district are reelectionists Lea Japson, Joy Young, Alvin Dizon and Nestor Archival, former councilors Alvin Arcilla, Sisinio “Bebs” Andales, Mary Ann Delos Santos and ALU-TUCP information officer Art Barrit. Cutie Del Mar, the late Rep. Raul Del Mar’s unica ija, is the congressional candidate.

For the south district, the lineup includes reelectionist Yayoy Alcoseba, Bob Cabarubias, Jose Abellanosa (son of Rep. Bebot Abellanosa), Cogon, Pardo Barangay Councilor Omar Kintanar, Retired MTCC Judge Cornelio Jaca, Pie Abella, Buhisan Barangay Captain Gremar Barete and Pahina San Nicolas Barangay Captain Clifford Niñal. Former Cebu City mayor and BOPK’s titular head, Tomas Osmeña is the group’s congressional candidate.

With this lineup, at least the Cebuanos have so many choices.


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