EDITORIAL: Political merry-go-round
WITH the mid-term elections in sight, our local politicians will once more be giving our people a ride. And it is actually a ride where the same politicians are going around in circles but never getting us out of the orbit.
There are four familiar families that come into mind when thinking of the biggest province in Bicol, which is now composed of 5 congressional districts that originally only had two when life was less complicated. Now, we do not only have one or two political names, but four as of last count who continue to annihilate each other through betrayals and alliances to ironically ensure each one’s survival.
Whether or not one despises political dynasties, with the absence of a law prohibiting or regulating them, clans that for decades held political power in Camarines Sur are here to stay. Each one of them wants to get the biggest slice of the pie, if not the whole pie itself, in the five districts of the province which is composed of 35 towns and two cities with over a million constituents. And they are all taking us for a ride.
As everyone knows by now, the Villafuerte clan whose roots date back to Japanese-time patriarch Gov. Mariano E. Villafuerte, is no longer feuding. Worse, even their cousins – the Magtutos – have also thrown their hats into the political ring, as if their own candidates for governor and two district congressmen were not enough.
Their fierce rival, the Fuentebellas, would not let go of the Partido (4th) district, their turf for more than a century. The wife and son are running for re-election as town mayors, while the elder Noli who’s now as old as the last of the Mohicans, is not about to yield to a rival from outside the family the clan’s congressional district, considered shamelessly as one of the poorest districts in the province.
Former House Speaker Noli’s clan had for its patriarch Jose Fuentebella, a founding member of the Nacionalista Party, together with former President Manuel L. Quezon in 1907. Noli’s father Felix, the youngest brother of Jose, was governor of Camarines Sur from 1976 to 1986 when the whole country was under Martial Law.
In Rinconada district, the younger Alfelors, after the deaths of their respective fathers, had fought each other, joined together under an allied political party, but are still fighting, at least for the mayoral race in Iriga City – the family turf.
Emerging in 1972 with the election of the late Gov. Felix Alfelor, Sr. (but thrown out immediately after Martial Law was declared) the Alfelors had its ups and downs, and suffered defeats that today narrowed their political influence to Iriga City. From 1988 to 1992, Felix’s son Ciriaco (now deceased) held the Rinconada congressional district. It was later taken over by another son, Felix, Jr. until 2010. Madelaine Alfelor Gazmen, daughter of Ciriaco became mayor of iriga City, came back upon the expiration of constitutional term limit, and whose seat is being challenged once again by her cousin, Emmanuel Alfelor, Jr.
Meanwhile, in the first and second districts of the province, the sister and spouse of House Majority Speaker Rolando Andaya, Jr. will be running for congressional seats, respectively, in the two districts while Rolando Jr. himself will be gunning for governor against incumbent Migz Villafuerte.
The Andayas’ political career started in 1972 with Rolando Sr. as Camarines Sur vice governor to then Gov. Felix Alfelor. They were both soon booted out of the Capitol because Martial Law hated political adversaries. The elder Andaya came back in 1984 for the Batasang Pambansa along with then opposition partymates Villafuerte, Alfelor and former Sen. Edmundo Cea. Andaya Sr. eventually handed down his seat to son Rolando Jr. when the former was named Budget Secretary by then President Cory Aquino, a post that his son also held during the time of then Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.