MANILA, Philippines — It’s “open season” against non-Liberal Party (LP) governors in vote-rich provinces.
San Juan Rep. Joseph Victor Ejercito said that a “sinister pattern” was emerging from high-profile jueteng probe on Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino and the suspension of Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Gracia initiated by Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.
“The two governors are not from Liberal Party and they both come from vote-rich provinces. This is too much of a coincidence; the only question is who’s next on the hit list?” asked Ejercito in a phone interview.
Ejercito said that Roxas’ “bias” against non-LP politicians was obvious considering that he was the LP chair; he remained wishful of being the vice president (Roxas’ electoral protest against Vice President Jejomar Binay is still pending); and that he was being groomed as President Benigno Aquino III’s successor in 2016.
“Obviously, all these moves are political in nature. I have yet to see an LP member charged,” said Ejercito.
According to Ejercito, there are governors who have the same profile as those of Espino and Garcia and could be the next LP’s targets for “harassment” before the elections. “Cavite, Quezon, and Pampanga are vote-rich provinces and they have governors who are not LP members,” said Ejercito, a senatorial bet of the United Nationalist Alliance. Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda is a member of Lakas; Cavite Gov. Juanito Victor Remulla is a member of the Nacionalista Party; and Quezon Gov. David Suarez is a member of the National Unity Party.
Minority Leader Danilo Suarez agreed with Ejercito’s perception that the moves against Espino (a member of Nationalist People’s Coalition) and Garcia (Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan) were politically motivated. Considering that the investigation of Espino and the suspension of Garcia were made two months before the start of the campaign, Suarez said that the LP bets running against these incumbent governors would get a boost from Roxas. Both Espino and Garcia are heavy favorites to get re-elected in contrast to their LP rivals, Alaminos Mayor Hernani Braganza in Pangasinan and Hilario Davide III in Cebu.
Suarez’s son is the Quezon governor and he is running against LP candidate Irvin Alcala, son of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, in 2013.