CABANATUAN CITY?An intense political battle between Governor Aurelio Umali and Vice Governor Edward Thomas Joson is seen as each has a lot of personal and official stakes in their fight for leadership in the province.
Umali, 43, the official Lakas-Kampi-CMD bet, will also try to take the lead in bringing to victory other local candidates running under the Unang Sigaw, Partido ng Pagbabago party which he formed recently.
Joson, 33, is carrying the brunt for the fight of the Bagong Lakas ng Nueva Ecija (Balane) party and the Joson political legend.
Both candidates have been at loggerheads as they have filed at least 10 suits and countersuits before the Sandiganbayan for what they claimed were serious antigraft and corruption cases committed by each of them.
Umali has accused Joson of leading the Balane-dominated provincial board in sabotaging his administration by not passing ordinances needed for the progress and development of the province.
He also claimed that several items in his proposed budgets had been slashed by Joson and his allies in the last two years.
But Joson, in his weekly radio program and public talks, said his actions and those of his colleagues were meant to protect the interest of the province.
He said Umali?s request for funding suffered legal infirmities. He also claimed that Umali had prevented his chiefs of offices from giving official reports before the provincial board regarding the operations of their offices.
Umali, whose first political appearance in the province was in 2003 when he won as representative of the third district against Joson, defeated then Vice Governor Mariano Cristino Joson, uncle of Edward, in the fight for governor in 2007. Umali?s win as governor ended a four-decade rule of the Josons in the province.
His win was made sweeter when his wife, Czarina, was elected representative of the third district.
The Balane party, which was formed by the Joson patriarch, former Gov. Eduardo Joson, believes that Edward, who is teamed up with Senior Board Member Rommel Padilla, brother of actors Robin Padilla and BB Gandanghari, can topple Umali.
?Our family and the party members agreed to field the Joson-Padilla tandem after a series of consultations. This is a strong tandem,? said Edward?s father Tomas III, the former governor and the party chair.
Four other Josons were fielded by Balane. Eduardo IV and former Representative Josefina Manuel-Joson, wife of Mariano Cristino, are running for the congressional seats in the first and third districts, respectively.
Mariano Cristino is running for mayor of Quezon town, while Rey, a son of Representative Eduardo Nonato, is running for board member in the first district.
Eduardo Nonato and Tomas III are not seeking any post but both vowed to help bring their party to victory in 2010.
Umali has fielded his wife for reelection, and his younger brother, Emmanuel Antonio, for a provincial board member?s seat.