BY how things are going in Camarines Sur, the clash of political titans in the province is about to cross lines as election comes nearer. After announcing his intention to run for governor in the premier Bicol province and dropping hints of the issues he will use as weapons against the Villafuertes, Camarines Sur first district Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. has started going around the towns via medical missions outside of his district. The medical missions, by its nature, benefit the cross section of society who can’t afford medical consultation and attention. At first glance, medical missions look apolitical. But looking closer, a medical mission can actually be political when names of politicians as sponsors are more highlighted than the medical mission itself.
Conducting medical missions may be a wise move for Andaya to touch base and reach out to voters outside of his district while his political adversaries, the Villafuertes, have gone a long way since 2004, penetrating all the 1,063 barangays in Camarines Sur. Should Andaya start going around the barangays only during the 45-day campaign period, it would be impossible for him to visit 24 barangays in a day if only to saturate his visit within the prescribed period. Going around the province with the intention of visiting all the barangays starting April this year, would entail Andaya at least two barangays every day before the actual May 2019 local elections to make his presence felt and seen.
One consideration in the local elections, aside from resources in which both Andaya and the Villafuertes fairly have enough, is the political machinery. While Andaya has to combine with the political machinery of the Fuentebellas, the father and son (Migz and LRay) Villafuertes have consolidated their political machinery with the old patriarch Luis R. Villafuerte, who had once been estranged from his son LRay. The Villafuertes have in time reconciled and vowed to support each other, even as the older Villafuerte has also announced his unchanged plan to make another run for Congress in the third district of Camarines Sur. It must be noted that in the past two elections, when Luis openly clashed with his son LRay, the latter still emerged victorious even with Andaya and the Fuentebellas joining forces to try to topple LRay’s political power.
To make the incoming political battle more exciting and entertaining, the camps of the political titans in Camarines Sur are floating the enlistment of celebrities whose careers had been taken over by the younger generation of entertainers. Photos of Imelda Papin, who hails from the once isolated and remote town of Presentacion and made a name with her songs about a one-week old love affair and cheating partners, appears on the posters of incumbent Camarines Sur Gov. Miguel “Migz” Villafuerte LRay and Luis Sr. Papin, a perennial candidate not only in Camarines Sur, had once won as vice governor when Luis R. Villafuerte was the governor. In the 2016 Presidential elections, Papin lost to Arnulfo Fuentebella for the congressional seat in the fourth district. And now, she is being groomed to run as vice governor of Gov. Migz, while incumbent Vice Gov. Fortunato Peña, a loyal ally of LRay, serves his last term.
While Papin is being floated to run as vice governor in tandem with last termer Gov. Migz, Andaya’s camp is toying with the name of Aga Muhlach as his candidate for vice governor. If the enlistment of Papin does not anymore surprise or excite anyone, the name of Muhlach surfacing as tandem of Andaya in the midterm elections speaks volume. It must be remembered that Muhlach ran and lost with slim margin against Camarines Sur fourth district Rep. Arnulfor Fuentebella in 2013 midterm elections at the behest of LRay. Should the Andaya-Muhlach tandem happens, it will only prove once again that there is nothing permanent in politics but the interests of candidates to obtain or perpetuate themselves in power. However, it is more important to note that despite the rhetoric of democracy for the people, by the people and of the people, elections are exclusive battles of the political titans.