Pangasinan in messy political transition for 2016
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Pangasinan in messy political transition for 2016

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Age-old logic in Philippine politics – at least in the last 4 national elections – points out that what we see on the national level is a universe away from what happens on the local level.

Let’s take Pangasinan – the vaunted vote rich province in Region I – that has produced at least five senators (Aquilino Calvo, Pedro Ma. Sison, Bernabe De Guzman, Teofilo Sison and Cipriano Primicias) and one president (Fidel Ramos).

Present-day political positioning and manoeuvring in Pangasinan will attest that local politics is much more murkier than national alliances and trade-offs.

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Former Rep. Mark Cojuangco has in February 2014 declared his “intent to run for governor of Pangasinan.” This rendered the political accommodation and re-arrangement plans of the local Espino dynasty led by Governor Amado Espino, Jr. in a state of complete disarray.

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This prompted the mass resignation of the Espino family from the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) that was founded by Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, Mark’s Dad. Those who resigned were Governor Espino, Board Member Amado Espino III, Bugallon Mayor Jumel Espino and Bautista Mayor Amadeo Espino. That ends the Espino clan’s romance with the NPC after being staunch Lakas-NUCD provincial officials during the Macapagal-Arroyo administration.

There’s more. According to political operators in the province, staunch Espino allies also tendered their resignation from the NPC. These are Provincial Board Members Raul Sison and Nestor Reyes of the province’s second district, Angel Baniqued (third district), Danilo Uy (fifth district) and Alfonso Bince Jr. (sixth district).

The Espinos had a complete majority of 90 percent of all the mayors in the 2010 and 2013 elections, so they say.  But next polls will be a different background with the possible power shift that the Cojuangcos – that’s former Rep. Mark and current Rep. Kimi – will definitely attempt to do in 2016.

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Cong. Bataoil is biding his time

But contrary to these operator’s assertions to politics.com.ph, Pangasinan Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil (Second District) has not resigned from the NPC, though he is very close to the Espinos.

Rep. Bataoil’s district staff, who requested not to be named for having no authority to speak to the media, confirmed that “the congressman has not resigned from the NPC and is just ‘cooling’ off. He intends to attempt and opening communication lines with Cojuangco as he has not opposed his moves to run for governor.”

Well said. If Bataoil wants to survive, he has to build bridges and mend fences. No hard feelings to Gov. Espino. Political worklang po ito. Things political are indeed getting weirder in Pangasinan.

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This probably explains why Rep. Bataoil and Gov. Espino were seen in a press conference with Nacionalista Party Senator Allan Peter Cayetano. They were also reportedly seen with the recent visit of Vice President Jejomar Binay of the United Nationalist Alliance (Nag-paparty searching lang po siguro).

Resigned from NPC, sticking to Binay

The Pangasinan politicians who left the NPC were seen with  and in fact, some Liberal Party (LP) stalwarts have in fact welcomed Binay at every opportunity he visits the province.

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Binay was among the first national officials to visit the wake of slain Urbiztondo Mayor Ernesto Balolong Jr., a Pangasinan LP member.

Let us look at what the political pundits have so far seen.

In the province’s first district, incumbent Anda Mayor Aldrin Cerdan has declared support for Cojuangco. So has Bani town Mayor Gwen Yamamoto. Both are NPC members.

In the second district, incumbent Binmaley Mayor Sam Rosario of the LP has thrown his support to Cojuangco.  The Balolong family of LP Urbiztondo will support Cojuangco for governor and Binay for president. Wow.

Murkier and weirder it is in Pangasinan come 2016 as the NPC and local LP chapter will apparently support Mark Cojuangco for governor.  This is because local politicians will do anything for their own interests first and that of national politicians later, if not much, much later.

The only thing yet to be determined is who the local Pangasinan politicians will actually support for the country’s top two posts in 2016.

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