By MORTZ C. ORTIGOZA
Many political observers and pundits look at the 2016 grand battle royal’s gubernatorial election between former Congressman Mark Cojuangco (5th District, Pangasinan) and Provincial Liga ng Barangay President and Board Member Amado Espino III as the most expensive electoral contest the 2.8 million populated gargantuan province of Pangasinan could witness.
Although consigned in the local level, this contest will be likened to the hype generated by the forthcoming marquee tussle between Manny Pacquiao versus Floyd Mayweather .
The Cojuangco-Espino tiff generates so much furor because of the wherewithal both camps possess.
Cojuangco’s supporters reasoned out that the deep financial campaign chest of his father business mogul Danding Cojuangco would be his edge to catapult the younger Cojuangco to the top post of the capitol in Lingayen.
A mayor cited an example of the tremendous wealth of the Cojuangcos: The numbers of their Lear jets!
“Isang Lear jet lang costs U.S $18 million (P8 billion), e kung ibenta nila iyong isa, ilang bilyon ang halaga niyan sa peso?” he posed.
Mark Cojuangco rides too on a political juggernaut Nationalist People’s Coalition - founded by his father in 1992 when he ran for the presidency. It had on its behest 41 Pangasinan mayors out of the 47 city and town mayors that exclude the component city of Dagupan City.
NPC could show boat to the Espino’s camp the five congressmen out of the six solons of the mammoth province that had pledged their support to Cojuangco’s bid
This not to mention Abono Party-List Representative Conrad Estrella who, together with the province’s King Maker and Abono Party chairman Rosendo So have their hands full with Mark in barnstorming the urban and rural areas of Pangasinan two years before the May 2016 polls.
This seldom happen in the political history of Pangasinan where the incumbent governor saw himself with a dearth of mayors on his side.
“Tangapin niyo lang ang perang ibinibigay sa inyo," Governor Espino was heard by media man (on- leave already for ten years, teh-heh!) Harold Barcelona exhorted the village chiefs on the Christmas Party he and his namesake board member son tendered last December 20 at the Narciso Ramos Gymnasium in Lingayen. A day before that shindig almost all 33 village chiefs of Binmaley town (the biggest in terms of voters in the 2nd Congressional District) led by its mayor Sam Rosario pledged their support to Cojuangco and Calasiao Mayor Mark Roy Macanlalay’s gubernatorial and vice gubernatorial aspiration at the residential compound of Macanlalay in the bustling Calasiao town.
Espino supporters would argue with a Cojuangco’s supporter that the governor, a last term top honcho of the province, is astute in a power play like the gubernatorial race.
“He did not want to see his son caught with his pants down rammed by Cojuangco financially awash behemoth train. That’s why the governor and almost all of his allies in the provincial board borrowed for the province one billion pesos at the Land Bank of the Philippines for project streaks all over Pangasinan to make his legacy looks good”.
The amount, the supporter argued, rides on the crest of Espino’s national and regional awards.
Not to be content with the one billion pesos loan approved by LBP-Lingayen last August 2014, Espino sharpens again his political sword by requesting with the cooperative members of the provincial board, another round of undetermined loans, that I surmised would run for tens if not hundreds of millions of pesos.
"We are not yet talking about the personal monies the Espinos have at their disposal," a supporter quipped.
Although these huge amount borrowed would be shouldered by the Pangasinenses through amortization, it could not be denied that these could buttress the armor of his son against an impending war with Cojuangco who have been on expensive TV commercial streaks to shore up his name recall among the voters.
The provincial government has a P2.77 billion approved budget for 2015 where almost P1 billion of it is allocated for the health sector to ensure the continuation of the modernization of all the province’s hospitals.
The last time Pangasinenses saw monies ‘flood” a congressional district was in the 2007 election where former 4th District Congressman and Dagupan City Mayor Benjamin S. Lim, a mall czar, wanted to spurn the chance of his pet-peeve come backing former House Speaker Jose de Venecia who wanted to reclaim his old seat at the 4th Congressional District.
"I was running scared," de Venecia, my favorite source of international politics, told me about his clash with Benjie.
In that election monies allegedly from the Central Intelligence Agency and the Chinese government help the hundreds of millions of pesos both camps used to buy votes, according to my source.
(CIA and the Chinese government and investors? Son of a gun, nagulat kayo ha! You asked media men Harold Barcelona, Ronel de Vera who are the local moles of the CIA and the Chinese in Pangasinan ha ha ha, and former Mayor Lim).
If monies during the Lim versus de Venecia’s congressional contest flood the highways, the boondocks, the prairie, the fishermen on their boats in Pantal River, and the mountains of San Fabian town thru vans hired by the duo and each household in Dagupan City became recipient of a staggering P5000 thrown to them like heap, would the Cojuangco versus Espino drown Pangasinanenses with monies through elf trucks if not dump trucks?
He he he please forgive my malikot (naughty) thinking, probably it was the result of a wayward defective baby rocket exploding some inches above my head last New Year’s revel. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE!
(You can read my selected columns at http://mortzortigoza.blogspot.com and articles at Pangasinan News Aro. You can send comments too at firstname.lastname@example.org).