CATARMAN, Northern Samar– Top officials of this province are now officially members of the ruling Partido Demokratikong Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), leaving only Rep. Raul Daza as the lone non-party member in the province.
Governor Jose Ong and his nephew, Rep. Edwin Ongchuan, Vice Gov. Gary Lavin, provincial board members and 22 town mayors took their oath as new PDP-Laban members before House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez during a mass oath-taking ceremony held at the University of Eastern Philippines Gymnatorium in the capital town of Catarman on March 8.
The top officials of the province joined the more than 3,200 others as new members of the party of President Rodrigo Duterte which lost in the province during the 2016 presidential elections.
With their affiliation with the ruling party, Gov. Ong said that they are now committed to support all the programs of the Duterte administration, to include the plan towards federalism.
“I pledge to the Speaker with an assurance that we will deliver a strong Yes to federalism under a new Constitution,” the governor said.
But his elder brother, former congressman Jose Ong, did not took his oath like his former rival, Daza, who still a member of the Liberal Party.
The former solon said that while he remains to be with the National Unity Party (NUP), he still considers himself an original member of the administration party.
“When I ran for assemblyman in 1984 I ran under the PDP. Kasi nagboycott noon ang LP (Liberal Party). Ginawa ako nina Nene (Aquilino) Pimentel as charter member. Kaya hindi na ako kailangan mag take oath, nauna na ako noon,”, he said.
He added that the NUP of which he serves as its vice president has an existing coalition with PDP-Laban of which he was also one of the signatories.
Meantime, Daza said that his presence during the event was only out of courtesy to Speaker Alvarez and to show that the coalition forged by the LP and the PDD-Laban in the province still exists.
During the event, Speaker Alvarez had chided the veteran solon to jump ship and join the PDP-Laban.
“Si Manong Raul baka gusto ring mag take oath”, Alvarez said when he was giving instructions to the crowd of about 4,000 for the ceremonial oath-taking.
When Alvarez’s microphone malfunctioned, he jokingly blamed it to the LP.
“Kaingon ko taga- Liberal ni nga akong microphone”, Alvarez said which sent the crowd into laughter.
Daza took the ribbings of Alvarez lightly saying the Speaker was only joking.
“He was smiling when he was talking. So I did not take offense,” he said.
Pantaleon arrived via a private aircraft along with his partner Jennifer Vicencio, Davao first district Rep. Karlo Nograles and Maguindanao second district Rep. Zajid “Dong” Mangudadatu.
Representatives from other provinces in the region – Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, Samar first district Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, Leyte second district Rep. Henry Ong – and UEP President Dr. Rolando Delorino also attended the activity.(RACHEL V. ARNAIZ)