DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines—Former Pangasinan representative and now Board Member Ranjit Shahani on Saturday announced that he was withdrawing his support for the gubernatorial bid of his second cousin, Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza, and has endorsed reelectionist Gov. Amado Espino Jr. in next year’s elections.
“I would like the whole province of Pangasinan to know that I am supporting the reelectionist ticket of Gov. Amado Espino Jr. for governor and [Jose] Ferdinand Calimlim for vice governor,” Shahani said in a phone-patch interview over Aksyon Radyo Pangasinan here.
Shahani’s mother, former Sen. Leticia Ramos-Shahani, and Braganza’s mother, the late Purita Agsalud Braganza, are cousins. The young Shahani is also former President Fidel Ramos’ nephew.
Shahani and Braganza belong to the administration Liberal Party (LP) while Espino and Calimlim belong to the Nationalist People’s Coalition.
Shahani questioned the local LP’s selection process for different local candidates in the province for the May 2013 elections.
“I do not like the process of selecting candidates under the LP. It was not transparent. It’s like backsliding in the old days of the backroom, smoke-filled rooms for politicians … throwing the dice in deciding the fate of the Filipino people,” he said.
Shahani had reportedly wanted to run for vice governor but he did not get the LP nomination.
Arturo Lomibao, former Philippine National Police director general, was instead named as Braganza’s running mate.
Shahani also challenged Braganza to a debate “for me to prove that Governor Espino is far more qualified than Hernani Ramos Agsalud Braganza to be father of the great province of Pangasinan.”
He said he was supporting Espino because in his two terms as governor, he had done a lot for the province, such as improving health services, establishing a better working environment for provincial employees and putting in place basic infrastructure projects.
Shahani first served as the province’s vice governor in 1992.