MAGANES: Cojuangco and Espino’s SOPA
Last February 10, Governor Amado T. Espino Jr. delivered his State of the Province Address (SOPA) at the Capitol grounds in Lingayen town, which was referred to as his “valedictory address” since he will bow as Pangasinan’s governor on June 30, 2016, being on his last term. SOPAs usually contain the accomplishments of a governor during his administration particularly on the various programs and projects and their effects on the lives of the constituents.
According to those who attended Espino’s SOPA, the atmosphere at the Capitol was gloomy- words of Espino were full of emotions as he was saying “goodbyes” to the more or less 5,000 provincial employees. It was a far cry from the previous SOPAs where majority of municipal mayors and officials including congressmen, attended. A media colleague who was there intimated to me that Espino was not as he was before- happy and bubbly, as he might be missing his former allies who were supportive of him during the quest for the governorship.
Of the 44 municipal mayors and three city mayors, only nine attended. No congressman of the six districts was visible. Attendees were mostly provincial employees, school administrators and village officials who were earlier invited to attend the event. Does the scarcity of attendees show that Espino’s popularity has waned as compared to his early years as governor when his SOPAs were well attended by government officials from the province?
Notwithstanding that he will be pitted against Espino’s son for the gubernatorial post on May 9, 2016, gubernatorial aspirant Mark O. Cojuangco ” stubbornly” attended the SOPA. I described it as a “stubborn move” from him because last year when he attended the SOPA, media men close to the Espinos feasted on his action claiming him to be a “gate crasher” and eliciting attention from the media and the Pangasinenses.
But Cojuangco has reasons of attending the SOPA. He said ever since Espino became governor, he was following the development of Pangasinan. He attended the last three SOPAs to know where to start should he will be elected by the Pangasinenses in May 2016. He did not attempt to steal the limelight from Espino during those occasions but media men followed him to get his reactions and statements.
It will be recalled that Cojuangco declared his gubernatorial aspiration on February 10, 2014 right after the SOPA of Governor Espino. It was on that occasion that Espino’s camp started to lambast him, and five members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan belonging to the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) bolted from the said party. Governor Espino, his sons and brother followed suit. Since then, the once solid alliance of Cojuangco-Espino cracked. The political ties were severed and they subsequently became political foes. The sweet relationship of Cojuangcos and Espinos became so “sour” to the taste of both camps- all because of politics.
Going back to the last SOPA of Espino, Cojuangco was seen with his running mate Calasiao Mayor Mark Roy Macanlalay and NPC allies Malasiqui Mayor Armando Domantay Sr. and Tayug Mayor Tyrone Agabas. My mole at the Capitol said they did not occupy the front seats reserved for local officials but sat among the other guests at the back rows. After the SOPA, Cojuangco slipped out from the scene (he never attempted to go near Espino) to escape the prying eyes of the media men close to Espino. But then, media men followed him and he gave briefly his reactions and comments about the SOPA.
Cojuangco said he heard nothing new as the contents of the SOPA were a rehash of what was said two years ago. The programs, according to him, were presented in their macro forms and he was waiting for “specifics” that are more or less beneficial to the Pangasinenses. He scored Espino for rehabilitating provincial roads that are not within the standards of width, and just asphalting the roads instead of cementing them. He said these practices are very costly as yearly, the asphalts have to be replaced. (Is is because he has an asphalt batching plant?)
Should he become a governor, would he resort to availing loans for the province of Pangasinan? Cojuangco said it will depend on the necessity after looking into the financial capability of the province and the type of projects to be implemented. He said if the intention of getting loans is to “make up” for neglected services to the people, then loans are necessary.
Well, Cojuangco’s attendance to the SOPA did not escape his critics. He was the center again of their tirades both radio broadcasts and prints. Calling him unsavory names such as Tarlakenyo, gate crasher, makapal ang mukha ( thick-faced) and what have you, Cojuangco remains steadfast in his quest for the governorship. He’s not affected at all on these tirades as according to him, as he is more focused on what to do should Pangasinenses give him the opportunity to serve them.
And wait fellas! While Espino was delivering his SOPA, Bayambangueños and Bugallonons were staging a rally in Bayambang where they articulated their dismay over the Espino administration. For details, read the editorial of this paper in this issue.
Would there be changes in the next administration? Will the issues raised be solved for the good of Pangasinenses? Oh, well let’s elect a leader who could commiserate with our situations and who have the ready hands and heart to hear our needs and sentiments. And you know who I am referring to.
( For comments, email me at email@example.com. Visit my blog The Roving Pen at http://www.virgilmaganes.wordpress.com. Listen to my radio programs ” Ang Bagong Bayan Po(e)” aired over DZRD Sonshine Radyo Dagupan City, Mondays to Fridays at 8:00-9:00 AM and ” On Your Marks,2nd Edition” over DWPR Radyo Asenso,- Mondays to Fridays at 10:15-11:15 AM)
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