IFUGAO governor Dennis Habawel has declared his full support to Vice President Jejomar Binay's bid to presidency in the upcoming national elections on May.

Habawel is among the latest to throw their support to Binay's candidacy after a press conference at the Baguio Country Club Tuesday morning.

“It was not difficult for me to make the decision to help Vice President Binay capture Malacañang because he is one of our own. He will be the first President, God willing, who will come from the ranks of the indigenous People’s (IP’s) group,” the governor pointed out who is running under the banner of Nacionalista Party.

The incumbent governor will be challenged by six other candidates that include Liberal Party's Pedro Mayam-o and former governor Eugene Balitang.

United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) secretary general lawyer JV Bautista thanked Habawel for making the early decision of joining Binay and the Ifugao governor will be adopted as official UNA candidate and will be entitled to the rights and privileges of the official candidates of UNA, which is expecting to get the accreditation as the dominant minority party.

Habawel also stressed that among the presidential candidates only Binay has the heart to listen to the concerns of ordinary citizens.

“Additionally, this is also our way of expressing our deepest gratitude to the Binay family as his grandmother served for a long time as public school teacher in a far-flung Barangay Magulon in Mayoyao town,” he added.

Cicero Lumauig, UNA Provincial Coordinator for Ifugao, said that eight out of 11 incumbent mayors are with Habawel. They are Mayoyao mayors Ronnie Lumayna, Gerry Dalipog of Banawe, Gaspar Chilagan of Aguinaldo, Marcelino Catalino of Tinoc, Martin Habawel,Jr. from Lagawe, Mariano Buyagawon of Lamut, Gerry Luglug of Hingyon, and Hilario Bumangabang of Hungduan.

Both Habawel and Bautista have revealed that another governor from the Cordillera is expected to join UNA in the next few days and will also be announced in Baguio City.

"Clearly, there is now a snowballing trend from the ranks of incumbent local officials that is developing into a surge of support for Binay. First to stand up and face media in Cebu City to declare support for Binay and UNA was Southern Leyte Vice Gov. Sheffered Tan and No. 1 Board Member Albert Esclamado. Both are now UNA candidates for governor and vice governor, respectively," Bautista said.

He added that UNA is set to make a big announcement next week in Cebu City that will complete the dominance of UNA in the top three vote-rich provinces of the country. More announcements will be made during the campaign period as incumbents from the Liberal Party, NPC, NUP and others shifting loyalty to UNA and support for Binay. (RO)