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Inquirer Southern Luzon
Aguinaldo heirs creep into Cavite politics

By Marlon Ramos
Inquirer
First Posted 00:50:00 06/14/2007

Filed Under: Regional authorities

KAWIT, Cavite -- More than a century after Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo first unfurled the Philippine flag from the balcony of his house in Kawit to mark the country?s independence and his reign as the country?s first president, his heirs have been silently building what could be the next most influential political clan in the historic province of Cavite.

During the May 14 elections, four descendants of Aguinaldo won in their election bids, including the mayoral and vice mayoral races in Kawit.

But Rep. Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya, a great grandson of the legendary general, was quick to assert that the clan had no plan of starting a dynasty.

Abaya, who handily won in his reelection bid in the first district, likewise said the family did not chart the political careers of any of their relatives.

?No. We did not talk about our political plans. We did not plan about our candidacies. It just happened that some of us ran [for public office],? he told the Inquirer after the commemoration rites of the 109th Independence Day at the Aguinaldo Shrine on Tuesday.

Abaya is the son of Consuelo Aguinaldo, the daughter of Emilio Aguinaldo Jr.?the third of the general?s five children.

Abaya said the election was actually the first time that the clan had more than three Aguinaldos winning public posts.

Other Aguinaldo heirs who were proclaimed winners in the elections were incoming Kawit Mayor Reynaldo ?Tik? Aguinaldo, a son of Emilio Jr; and his Vice Mayor-elect Emilio ?Orange? Aguinaldo IV, a son of Reynaldo?s brother.

Emilio Aguinaldo V, the grandson of Miguel Aguinaldo?the general?s eldest son?won as municipal councilor in Imus town.

Emilio V?s father Lito was a former councilor of Imus.

On the other hand, Peter Aguinaldo Abaya, the congressman?s older brother, is the president of Alternative Fuels Corp., an attached agency of the Philippine National Oil Corp.

Controversy

The Aguinaldo clan actually figured in a controversy after Reynaldo, the incumbent vice mayor, ran against his first cousin, reelectionist Mayor Federico ?Hit? Poblete.

Federico is the son of Maria Aguinaldo, the youngest of General Aguinaldo?s children.

Reynaldo, 60, who served as vice mayor for three consecutive terms, admitted that his decision to go against his first cousin had the blessings of older family members.

He said there was no bad blood between him and Federico, who tried to win his third and last term.

Before he won his first term in 2001 as mayor, Federico had been mayor of Kawit for at least 15 years up to 1998, making him the longest serving mayor of the town.

?When I ran for mayor, I consulted my relatives. Even Mayor Hit knew that I just wanted to give an alternative choice for our townmates in Kawit,? he said.

He added: ?The people really wanted change in our town that?s why I ran. Mayor Hit has served our town for several years.?

Reynaldo, who ran under the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi), said he intended to focus on livelihood and job-generation to spur economic progress in Kawit, a second-class municipality.

He said he would also solve the garbage problem of the town, which, he said, has hampered the influx of new investments.

?We admit that Kawit lags behind other Cavite towns in terms of economic development. But how can we invite investors when our town is dirty?? he said.

Name recall

Abaya said the entry of their family in politics was not an easy one.

He recalled that even his late great grandfather lost in his presidential bid in 1935 against another respected nationalist, the late Manuel L. Quezon.

?After my grandfather lost in the presidency, none of us entered politics until my uncle, Cesar Virata, became the country?s only prime minister,? he said.

Virata, who now heads the Cavite Historical Society, is the son of revolutionary Baldomero Aguinaldo, General Aguinaldo?s first cousin.

In a separate interview, Emilio IV told the Inquirer that his being an Aguinaldo was very instrumental in their win.

Emilio IV, 33, who twice won as councilor before he succeeded his uncle Reynaldo as vice mayor, said although the name recall was ?definitely a plus factor for us,? it also had its drawbacks.

?The name also brings much pressure for me because I have a name to take care of. I have to live up to my name and try my best to avoid controversies,? he said, adding: ?I guess I just have to double or even triple my efforts.?

Abaya said he looked at the pressure of carrying his great grandfather?s name as a challenge.

?People just tend to [expect more] from us. But I don?t see it as a burden or a disadvantage. It?s just an added responsibility,? he said.

Abaya, who succeeded his father Del Abaya as congressman, said the filing of the bill making Cavite the ?Historical Capital of the Philippines? would be among his top legislative agenda in the 14th Congress.

He had filed the bill in the last Congress but it did not pass first reading.

He said he would also focus more on providing free basic education and health care for the constituents in his district, which includes Kawit, Bacoor, Rosario, Noveleta and Cavite City.

Abaya, a known ally of the administration, said he would block another presidential proclamation declaring June 12 a working holiday.

He admitted that family members were ?very disappointed and frustrated? by the decision of the President to have regular offices on Independence Day.

Abaya said the presidential proclamation only caused confusion and conveyed a wrong message to the youth.

Because of the proclamation, students were absent from the commemoration rites, he said.

?This is really very disappointing because we are sending the wrong message to the youth. The real meaning of the Independence Day is lost because of that,? he said.

Abaya said that although he supported the so-called holiday economics that the President was pushing, ?it was wrong to cancel the celebrations just to have another day at the beach or at the mall.?

?We have to understand that the youth stand to gain the most from this. It?s frustrating to see that they?re not here because they are the primary targets of this celebration,? he said.



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