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Inquirer Visayas
Bohol politics: Allies now bitter rivals

By Chito A. Fuentes
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:41:00 02/12/2010

Filed Under: Politics, Elections

A POLITICAL REALIGNMENT is shaping up in Bohol as two erstwhile allies go after each other?s scalp in the gubernatorial race in May.

Vice Gov. Julius Caesar Herrera and Rep. Edgar Chatto had been in the same team since 1986, but this alliance officially came to an end on Oct. 21, 2009. Herrera is running under the Nacionalista Party (NP) while Chatto is the official candidate of Lakas-Kampi-CMD for governor.

Actor Cesar Montano has also filed his candidacy for governor under the Liberal Party (LP), but his bid has not gained much ground. Not a single incumbent mayor from the island-province?s lone city and 47 towns has defected to him.

Although Chatto was president of the Kabataang Barangay provincial federation during the waning years of the Marcos regime, he joined the Cory Aquino bandwagon after the Edsa ?people power? Revolution by supporting the senatorial bid of then labor leader Ernesto Herrera, Julius Caesar?s older brother, in 1987.

The next year, Sen. Herrera picked then Gov. Constancio Torralba over former Assemblyman Eladio Chatto, Edgar?s father. The elder Chatto, who was the national treasurer of the Coconut Federation (Cocofed) during the Marcos years, lost to Torralba, but the younger Chatto won as mayor of Balilihan town.

In 1992, Chatto and Vice Governor Herrera began their political alliance during the latter?s failed congressional attempt, which the former supported while seeking reelection.

Alliance

Chatto won as vice governor in 1995 with the support of Herrera, who also became mayor of Calape town in the same year.

In 2001, Chatto won his first House seat vacated by then Rep. Ernesto Herrera, the same election when the younger Herrera was first elected as vice governor.

The alliance held on as Herrera and Chatto each completed their three terms as allowed by the Constitution.

This year, efforts were made to preserve the alliance. Chatto had asked Herrera to run for his seat in the first district to prevent a head-on gubernatorial race. But Herrera spurned the move, recalling that he told Chatto about his gubernatorial ambitions before the 2007 elections and got no objections.

Chatto is banking on his popularity and media savvy as he took the lead at the onset of the election season. Herrera, however, seems to have seized the momentum after filing his certificate of candidacy on Oct. 1, 2009.

The vice governor became the beneficiary of the Lakas infighting in the second district, a conflict that could affect the outcome of the election.

Big jolt

Gov. Erico Aumentado, who is seeking his old post in the second district, got the jolt of his political career when his certificate of nomination and acceptance (Cona) was unceremoniously revoked by Lakas. The certificate was instead issued to Mayor Judith Cajes of Trinidad town, wife of incumbent Rep. Roberto Cajes.

Despite their protestations of innocence, Chatto and Cajes found themselves in the eye of the storm as many Lakas originals and even nonpoliticians were dismayed by the way Aumentado was eased out.

As a result, the public disenchantment with Chatto became pronounced. Until that time, he had been relatively free from controversy throughout his career.

The Cona incident, however, brought out growing displeasure over Chatto?s unbridled devotion to President Macapagal-Arroyo, particularly during the impeachment trials and the coup ousting then Speaker Jose de Venecia.

Chatto has also increasingly come under fire for the alleged substandard road concreting projects in the first-district towns of Panglao, Dauis and Balilihan. He has not heeded the clamor from his critics to release the list of projects funded from his P630-million pork barrel.

Chinks in Chatto?s armor showed when his billboards claiming credit for the road projects mysteriously disappeared in the three towns.

The end of the Herrera-Chatto alliance somehow overshadowed other issues in the 2010 elections that reflect their contrasting priorities.

Easily among the most glaring is the dynasty issue.

The Chattos continue to lord over in Balilihan town. Vice Mayor Dominisio Chatto, a cousin, seeks to return as mayor, replacing Mayor Victoria Chatto, the lawmaker?s mother.

Efren Chatto, the congressman?s elder brother, is a late replacement for vice mayor for another cousin, Councilor Esteban Chatto. Efren beat the Dec. 10, 2009 deadline for substitution in what many perceive as a move to check a strong challenge posed by Councilor Salvio Madanguit.

In Tagbilaran City, Vice Mayor Jose Antonio Veloso is challenging reelectionist Mayor Dan Lim. Veloso is the elder brother of the congressman?s wife, Pureza Veloso-Chatto.

Herrera, on the other hand, has refused calls for the candidacy of his brother, former Sen. Herrera in the first district, or for his wife Linda and/or daughter Georgia Herrera-Klepp to run either for mayor of Calape or board member.

Calape Mayor Simplicio Yu Jr. is seeking reelection with his brother, Poblacion barangay chair Nelson Yu as running mate. An uncle, Vicente, is running for councilor.

Another issue separating Herrera and Chatto are their priority projects.

Herrera is pursuing backyard gardening, distributing vegetable seeds to nearly all villages as part of his pitch for agriculture.

Chatto, who chairs the House tourism committee, is more identified with tourism development, but he is belatedly hitching into the agriculture bandwagon.



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