LETTERS FROM DAVAO

By Jun Ledesma

IF you think you have seen the height of political oddities in Isko Moreno - Sara Duterte tandem, then think of another strange political weirdness when a couple both heads opposing political parties. 

In Davao de Oro, the 4th richest province in the Philippines, 2nd District Rep. Ruwel Peter Gonzaga, or “RPG”, is PDP-Laban Chairman while his wife, Dorothy “Dotdot” Gonzaga is Partido Reporma’s gubernatorial bet and the provincial highest official of the party.  Because of selfish agenda, this political mongrel breeds a similar variant in municipalities of this gold-rich province. 

In the previous years, elections in Davao de Oro were lackluster. The political pillars in the province would enter into a covenant wherein they agreed to just have common candidates in various positions. The main signatories to the covenant were Arturo “Chiongkee” Uy,  Manuel “Way Kurat” Zamora and Ruwel “RPG” Gonzaga.  

In anticipation of the 2022 regular elections, the same political players met earlier to renew their covenant. Like before, the event was witnessed by religious, civic, police, and military leaders in the province. As usual, after the signing of the covenant, the group dispersed after the handshakes. There was really no reason for any conflict for after all  former Governor Chiongkee is the convenor of Hugpong ng Pagbabago while Congressman RPG is the Chairman of PDP-Laban Cusi wing. In brief, they are pro-Duterte.

Hardly two months had elapsed, however, in the wake of the former mayor of Monkayo Rizal Gentugaya, father of the incumbent Mayor Ramil Gentugaya, a rumor, fueled by alcohol,  was heard. Ramil’s wife, Joanna, who is also the incumbent mayor of the town, is being groomed to run for congress in the 1st District of Davao de Oro. 

Chiongkee who had earlier announced his retirement from politics and had earned him the moniker ‘Papa Gov’ smelled a dead rat. 

Since the  Gentugaya couple is with PDP-Laban, Papa Gov confronted Congressman Gonzaga.    

RPG argued that it was not him who wanted Joanna to run for Congress but the national directorate of PDP-Laban.  

The more that Papa Gov became suspicious. Later, he confirmed that RPG had surreptitiously fielded candidates in contravention to what they agreed in the covenant. As the saying goes: “Walls have ears”.  Papa Gov learned that RPG was talking with Partido Reporma President Bebot Alvarez. He also monitored that RPG was talking with Partido Reporma gubernatorial bet Tito Franco.  He sensed something was brewing between Bebot and RPG. 

As Papa Gov had suspected, Congressman Gonzaga entered into a secret alliance with Alvarez. RPG’s wife Dorothy substituted Franco Tito who was running for governor under Partido Reporma ticket. Tito in turn was to substitute for Alexander P. Agustin for vice-governor. Dorothy-Franco substitution materialized. Franco’s bid as VG moreover failed as Agustin stood his ground. 

As a result of the barefaced betrayal, Papa Gov reconsidered his planned retirement from active politics. Incumbent Congressman ‘Way Kurat’ Zamora (Davao de Oro), who like Chiongkee also announced his retirement from politics made a u-turn. His daughter Maricar will stay on to run for congress in his stead.

The Hugpong ng Ppagbabago (HnP) quickly mapped new battle plans.

Chiongkee substituted for his son, the incumbent Gov. Tyron Uy who is up for re-election and slid down as vice-governor. Way Kurat decided to run for mayor in Monkayo against Ramil Gentugaya.  WK also drafted another political heavyweight in Monkayo, Jun Jun Brillantes as his running mate. 

In District 2 former governor Jose Caballero was pulled out by Papa Gov from hibernation to run against RPG. 

Thus, we see a scenario where HnP is facing a  combined phalanx of PDP-Laban Cusi wing and   Partido Reporma the arch critic of President Duterte. 

Such are the vagaries in Davao de Oro politics. Political ethics and decency are drowned in the sea of immorality and betrayal.

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.