By Jun Ledesma

IT’S  intriguing how Sen. Ping Lacson and Senate Pres. Tito Sotto arrived at a decision of latching at the moribund Partido Para sa Demokratikong Reporma, or Partido Reporma. Renato de Villa founded Partido Reporma in 1998 after he failed to get nominated as Presidential bet of Lakas-NUCD. He then ran but lost miserably in his bid along with Oscar Orbos his running mate. Since its inception, it only won a single seat in the Lower House - in 2004. After a series of electoral debacle, the party disappeared in thin air. De Villa’s indecisive “teka teka” is better remembered than his Partido Reporma which was buried in the catacombs of forgetfulness. 

Well, what do you know? Ex-Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez resurrected the party after leaving PDP-Laban. Earlier, he staged a number of forums ostensibly for voters' education but bannered as “In Search of a Leader -2022”. In his initial salvo, he mounted the stage and poured out verbiage of attacks against his erstwhile friend, Pres.  Rodrigo Duterte with snide remarks aimed at Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte.  The father and daughter disregarded him anyway. 

Bebot was on his way for a series of forums on “In Search for a Leader” but Covid -19 caught up with him. He disappeared from the political scenery for a long time only to surface two weeks ago in Quezon City, this time in a huddle with Ping Lacson, Tito Sotto, and Jejomar Binay. Bebot, who now chairs Partido Reporma peddled the party to the duo and appeared to have sealed an agreement to use the party for their presidential and vice-presidential bids.  

Sotto, in his remarks, said that Partido Reporma is the ruling party in Davao Region. Of course, that sounds funny but maybe he thought that Davao del Norte, where Alvarez PDP-Laban ruled in the 2019 midterm elections, is likewise dominant in the region. Which is farcical. The Region has about 3 million registered voters and more or less only 600,000 of these are from Davao del Norte.  

But the political landscape in the province has radically changed. 

The will and sentiments of the electorate in Davao del Norte had been altered with the tide of political fortunes. Talks are rife that Rep. Allan Dujali (District 2) is breaking ties with Alvarez and Gov. Edwin Jubahib, on account of irreconcilable differences. In Panabo, the vote-rich city in the district, it is rumored that incumbent Mayor Joe Relampagos, who is allied with Jubahib and Alvarez, will field his son Jig for Congress against Dujali come 2022. The Mayor is also rumored to draft again Emeterio Blase as his running mate who lost to Biboy Gavina. This triggered animosity. The talk of the town now is that Gavina will run for Mayor with Bandiong Dujali, the city council Majority Floor Leader, as his vice mayor. Bandiong is the nephew of Allan. 

In the capital town of Tagum, radical changes are also in the offing. Incumbent City Mayor Allan Rellon, who is on his last term, is said to be mending fences with Vice Gov. Rey Uy and his family. Rellon’s political fortune started with former Gov. Rodolfo del Rosario. Allan has nowhere else to go but to run for Vice Mayor and team up with either VG Uy if he opts to run for Mayor instead. If he chooses to seek reelection as Vice Governor his son Oyo, a charming manager of the Uys business conglomerate, will make a formidable Uy-Rellon team. That will rob Alvarez of the Tagum votes. But things are still fluid.

In the melee, we now see Team Alverez cracking right in the middle. It is now a matter of who will Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HnP) field against Bebot in the 1st District and against Jubahib for Governor. 

Factor in the extremely popular Hugpong ng Pagbabago Chairman Mayor Inday Sara who tops in all surveys conducted by Pulse Asia, Social Weather Station, and Publicus Asia and you have a situation where political leaders, especially in Davao del Norte, have to think what are their best options. 

Partido Reporma dominant in Davao Region? The Lacson-Sotto Team might live up to its name - LacSot which means ‘of no value’ to Visayans and Ilokanos. Sotto for one seemed to be oblivious over the obviously apparent fact that on the investment aspects the founder of the Nationalist Party Coalition, Danding Cojuangco and San Miguel Corporation President Ramon Ang are deliriously happy with the healthy business atmosphere under the Duterte administration. This means Sotto can go-ahead run but don’t expect the bank vaults of the business empire will open for the LacSot adventurism.  

In the 2019 polls, Alvarez and Jubahib successfully represented and identified themselves as the champions of the poor against the rich Del Rosario-Floirendo clan. But what happened was the latter was outspent on all fronts. Incredible but true. Alvarez and Jubahib are now perceived to be wealthy duo.  

Come 2022, the ‘poor man’ pretenses will no longer work. The promise of better government service failed. There were a few projects done but the Commission on Audit has come across some serious findings which will not augur well for a party that had just risen from a sickbed.

About the Columnist

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Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan.