Albay governor drops Mar, embraces Grace
LEGAZPI CITY—“I am Governor Salceda and my President is Grace Poe.”
With this statement, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda ended all speculations on his political plans, confirming that he was withdrawing his support for administration standard-bearer Mar Roxas to push the candidacy of independent presidential candidate
Sen. Grace Poe.
In an e-mailed statement to the Inquirer on Friday, Salceda said he was supporting Poe because “she shares our values of authentic humanism, shares our goals of countryside development and national competitiveness and certainly her compassion will ensure that the impact will be shared by all.”
“Ang Presidente ko ay may malinaw na plano at may puso para sa ordinaryong Filipino. May pagkiling sa kanayunan at may paninindigan para sa bayan. Malinis ang intensyon. May galing at lakas ng loob magpatupad ng batas (My President has clear plans and has the heart for the ordinary Filipino. She listens to countryside concerns and would stand firm for the country. Her intentions are pure. She has the ability and courage to enforce the law),” said Salceda, the Bicol regional chair of the ruling Liberal Party (LP).
He believes Poe will be the best leader who will be a driving force to bring prosperity to the provinces.
“For the good of all Albayanos, and for the future of my country, it is my duty to join Gobyernong may Puso (government with a heart),” said Salceda.
He said he had informed the Commission on Elections that he would leave the LP and would run as an independent candidate.
Despite running as an independent, Salceda said he was duty-bound to support the candidacy of LP candidates in Albay like Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal, Daraga Mayor Gerry Jaucian, Camalig Mayor Carlos Irwin Baldo, Manito Mayor Caesar Daep and Rapu-rapu Mayor Ronald Galicia.
In the 2010 elections, Salceda, then an ally of outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, bolted from the administration party, which was backing Gilberto Teodoro Jr., and supported the bid of then Sen. Benigno Aquino III of the LP, who eventually won the presidency.
Salceda believes Poe is the only candidate “who embodies the right values to lift the lives of our people, and articulates the dreams of our youth and expands the national potential.”
He said Poe could command the respect of the international community and espouse change that is “fair to the poor and fair to the future.”
Reacting to Salceda’s endorsement, Poe’s spokesperson, Rex Gatchalian, thanked Salceda for pledging support for her candidacy.
Gatchalian also said Poe was excited to work with Salceda, given his economic expertise.
They would work together to ensure inclusive growth and to improve the competitiveness and investment climate in the country, he added.
“She is steadfast in fighting for those who have been left behind, those that have not felt the growth of our economy. Senator Poe is elated that she found a new ally to carry on this task,” Gatchalian said.
He said more politicians were expected to join Poe’s campaign in the coming days because of her platform.
The spokesperson of LP on Friday admitted that Salceda’s defection to Poe’s camp might hurt the ruling party’s campaign in the Bicol region but ultimately it was only the loss of “one man.”
Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez said the LP coalition remained in a position of strength, taking comfort from its big “show of strength” last week when its ally congressmen, governors and other local leaders congregated at Club Filipino in San Juan City.
“We’re not going to dismiss his influence in Bicol, but we have other allies there like Albay First District Rep. Edcel Lagman to help the LP win in the region,” he said in a phone interview.
Reacting to Salceda’s defection, Lagman and Rosal said: “The Liberal Party of the first district of Albay stands solidly behind Mar. Joey Salceda is running in the second district where Legazpi City is located. Legazpi City comprises 50 percent of the second district of Albay which fully supports Mar Roxas.”
“Joey Salceda is alone in his decision. The Liberal Party of the third district of Albay stands solidly behind Mar. Roxas will win overwhelmingly in Albay, ” said Albay Third District Rep. Nando Gonzalez.
Gutierrez said he was not privy to the party’s conversations with Salceda prior to the latter’s announcement, but that the party “respected” his decision as well as of other recent defectors, including Deputy Speaker Pangalian Balindong, who earlier moved to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s side.
He said Salceda’s defection was not a signal or indicator of a mass defection.
“As early as eight months ago, we were told there would be mass defections from the LP but that has not transpired or materialized. We remain the dominant party and we’re confident in our machinery,” Gutierrez said. With reports from Leila Salaverria and DJ Yap in Manila
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