CAN ANTIQUE EVER ACHIEVE the kind of governance and leadership espoused by slain former Gov. Evelio Javier?
Antiqueños keep asking this question as they select new leaders in this year?s elections.
Again, traditional political clans are expected to dominate the polls, especially the Javier and Zaldivar families which have controlled the top provincial positions for decades.
Rep. Exequiel Javier, who is in his third and last term, is running for governor?a post he had also held for three terms. He is the younger brother of Evelio, who was also governor when he was killed during the 1986 ?snap? elections.
While Javier and incumbent last-term Gov. Salvacion Zaldivar-Perez both belong to the administration, they have been at odds since they won under the same ticket in 2001.
Exequiel?s son, Paolo Everardo, is running to replace his father as representative of the lone congressional district under the Lakas-Kampi-CMD against Zaldivar-Perez of the Nationalist People?s Coalition.
Joining the fray are retired police director Robert Delfin and former assemblyman Arturo Pacificador, who both ran and lost in previous elections, and two other candidates.
Perez is the daughter of the late former assemblyman and Supreme Court Justice Calixto Zaldivar. Her late older brother, Enrique, was a former governor and the country?s ambassador to Brunei.
Enrique?s son, Calixto III, is running for reelection as provincial board member.
Pacificador, who lorded over the province as a staunch ally of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, is again seeking a comeback. Charged as mastermind in Evelio?s killing but later acquitted, he came second to Perez in the 2007 gubernatorial race.
Perez had partnered with Vice Gov. Rhodora Cadiao, who is now running for governor under the Partido ng Masang Pilipino. Cadiao earlier broke away from the Javier camp and allied with Perez.
But in Tibiao town, brothers Walden and Joel Lim are showing that blood is not always thicker than water. They are both seeking the mayorship, with Walden running under the Lakas-Kampi-CMD and Joel as the official candidate of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan.
The rivalry has become intense with Walden filing a disqualification case against Joel for lack of residency.
But some have not given up the struggle for change in the province.
In Anini-y town, Manila-based human rights lawyer Jobert Pahilga (Bayan Muna-Nacionalista Party) is challenging incumbent Mayor Reynaldo Pollicar (Lakas-Kampi-CMD).
Pahilga, 35, said he decided to challenge the domination of Pollicar in the municipality because of the clamor of his townmates for change.
Still, the legacy of Evelio Javier now all seemed just a part of forgotten history amid all the political intramurals in Antique.
His death anniversary on Feb. 11 is a nonworking holiday on Panay Island and many landmarks and places in Antique are named after him. Beyond that, however, many Antiqueños can no longer connect with his politics.
Evelio espoused principled politics and transparent leadership and stood against the politics of ?gun, goons and gold.?
He refused to be accompanied by armed escorts even when threats to his life heightened.
His advocacy for good governance is best remembered in one of his speeches where he said: ?Ang pwesto sa gobyerno bukut burugasan, bukut paranubli-un (Public office is not a means of livelihood or is inherited).?
The former governor, a prominent opposition leader during the Marcos regime, is considered one of the icons of democracy and freedom. He was gunned down in broad daylight on Feb. 11, 1986, by heavily armed men at the public plaza during the canvassing of votes of the snap presidential elections.
His death contributed to the groundswell of protests leading to the Edsa I uprising on Feb. 22-25, 1986, which toppled the Marcos dictatorship.