By ROGER M. BALANZA
Congressman Peter Ruwel Gonzaga (2nd District, Davao de Oro) was expected any time to dump President Rodrigo Duterte to join the opposition party Reporma of his political ally former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
Reporma, chaired by Alvarez (First District, Davao del Norte), is fielding Senator Ping Lacson for president and Senator Tito Sotto for vice president in the 2022 election.
Gonzaga, still a member of the ruling PDP– Laban that Alvarez previously served as secretary general, was expected to bolt out of the ruling party chaired by Duterte, in his bid to take a crack at the Davao de Oro governorship in the 2022 election.
Gonzaga would be up against reelectionist Governor Jayvee Tyron Uy, a Duterte political ally.
Alvarez last year resigned from PDP-Laban and severed ties with Duterte, after attacking the administration of his long time political ally for alleged limp-wristed approach to the Chinese intrusion in the West Philippine Sea and the government’s war on drugs, among others. Alvarez is seeking reelection in next year’s polls.
Gonzaga has filed a Certificate of Candidacy (COC) for reelection, but has given hint his new bid for a Congress seat is not yet final sparking speculations he would take a last-minute switch, with substitution being allowed by Comelec up to November 15, and challenge Governor Uy of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HnP), the regional party of presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
A Comelec ruling says, substitution of candidates maybe allowed but the candidate giving up and the substitute should belong to the same party.
If Gonzaga would run for governor, he has to resign from PDP-Laban and join Alvarez’s Reporma. He could then be a substitute candidate of former barngay captain Franco Tito, a Reporma member who has filed a COC for governor.
Speculations say that Tito was an”advance party” to the governor’s race for Gonzaga, who already had plans to run for governor by substitution. The congressman has junked a covenant with HNP, headed by its regional chair Davao de Oro Board member Arturo Chiongkee Uy, to support a united slate in the 2022 Davao de Oro polls and has instead organized a separate slate, a mix of PDP-Laban and Reporma members, against the HNP candidates.
Also Read: GONZAGA JUNKS PDP-Laban/HNP COVENANT
Provincial Government of Davao de Oro for being one of the 14 LGUs and the only provincial local government unit, as official partner-beneficiary for Alternative Learning System-Education and Skills Training (ALS-EST) of the Development Academy of the Philippines – DAP sa Mindanao.
Thru the aid of the said program, we will be able to cater 300 out-of-school youths (OSYs) all over the province to continue their academic endeavor thru alternative learning modalities
.Our deepest gratitude to DAP-Mindanao for choosing our golden province to be one of your partners.
Also, this success would never be possible without the active leadership of Governor Jayvee Tyron Uy, MPA and ardent support of DepEd Tayo Davao de Oro – ALS team, Local Youth Development Officers (LYDOs), and Youth Service Providers (YSPs).Thank you for becoming the instrument of hope and for always believing the power of the youth sector through education.
By ROGER M. BALANZA
Even as the election is seven months away in May 2022, a Catholic priest running for mayor in Mabini town in Davao de Oro may have already lost: the Catholic Church is vehemently against his bid to win an election, with the Church expected to campaign among Catholic voters to drop the controversial priest.
Fr. Emerson “Em-Em” Luego, parish priest of Sr. Sto. Niño Parish, filed on October 8 his Certificate of Candidacy (CoC) for mayor of Mabini municipality amid ugly specualtions over why the Cathollic priest would involve himself in local politics.
Fr. Em-em may not expect support from the Catholic vote: Catholics are aware that the Church is against priests dabbling in politics.
“Priests should be involved in politics but they should not be political. We are involved as priests and not as politicians. Ours is not to hold government power but to guide the people to live and choose the right leaders,” Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani Jr. said.
The retired Catholic prelate reminded church servants, including priests, who are running for public office that the Church law allows them to run only in “extreme cases” and under the guidance of their bishops.
Reports have it that Fr. Em-Em did not seek permission from the Church primarily because Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, the former president of the Catholic Bishops‘ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), did not support his plan to enter politics in the 2022 election.
“Without the permission of his bishop, there are consequences for his performance as a priest,” Bacani said.
The bishop added that as a citizen, a priest has the right to lead but as a church servant, his involvement in politics is just to guide the electorate in choosing their leaders.
Fr. Em-em is widely known to stir up controversies in parishes where he was assigned.
Years ago, as the parish priest in Santo Tomas town in Davao del Norte, Fr. Em-Em reportedly acted as consolidator of dollar-earning export Cavendish bananas, illegally sold by small contract banana growers to unlicensed banana exporters, instead of to the banana plantation which financed their production operations.
The illegal scheme known as “pole vaulting” led to huge losses to members of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) operating in the Davao Region and triggered an investigation by the De[artment of Agriculture (DA) and other government agencies.
Even his running for Mabini mayor smacks of controvesry with shades of political treachery: Fr. Em-Em filed his bid at the instance and support of Davao de Oro Second District Rep. Peter Ruwel Peter Gonzaga, Davao Region chair of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
In May this year, Gonzaga entered into a “covenant” with Davao de Oro Senior Board Member Arturo “Chiongkee” Uy (regional chair of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HnP), for a unified (PDP-Laban/HnP) slate in the 2022 election.
The unity pact involved Governor Jayvee Tyron Uy (HnP) and Gonzaga running unopposed in 2022; with the son of Chiongkee, after his third and last term, also unopposed in the 2nd District Congress run and Gonzaga for goveror, also unopposed, in the 2025 polls.
But in what is seen as open and blatant political treachery against the May covenant, Gonzaga’s PDP-Laban fielded a candidate against First District Rep. Maricar Zamora (HnP) and candidates against HnP in five municipalities including Mabini where Fr. Em-Em is running under the PDP-Laban banner.
The camp of Gonzaga according to reliable sources, including hints dished out by Gonzaga in media interviews, indicated that Gonzaga or his wife, Dorothy, would substitute in the last minute for former Diwalwal barangay captain Franco Tito (Reporma) who has filed his bid for governor, to run against Gov. Jayvee Tyron Uy.
The Catholic Church position against priests in politics is clearly stipulayed in Canon Law 285 that states that clerics are forbidden to assume public offices, which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power.
“Without the permission of their ordinary, they are not to take on the management of goods belonging to lay persons or secular offices which entail an obligation of rendering accounts. They are prohibited from giving surety even with their own goods without consultation with their proper ordinary. They also are to refrain from signing promissory notes, namely, those through which they assume an obligation to make payment on demand,” the Code of Canon Law states.
Report say that three priests are aspiring to be elected in the May 2022 polls — Fr. Granwell Pitapit of the Diocese of Libmanan, Camarines Sur, running as mayor; Fr. Emmanuel Alparce of the Diocese of Sorsogon, running as councilor in Bacacay, Albay; and Fr. Em-Em.