Southern Luzon BureauMarlon Ramos
TRECE MARTIRES CITY, Philippines -- Barely two weeks after their bickering, the once-feuding political heavyweights of Cavite province forged a “unity ticket” for the coming local elections.
In an unexpected declaration that baffled even his closest political supporters and kin, Vice Governor Juanito Victor Remulla declared Monday that he was dropping his plans to run for the province’s top post and would subsequently retire from politics.
During the weekly flag ceremony at the capitol grounds here, Remulla also said he would not oppose the reelection bid of suspended Governor Erineo “Ayong” Maliksi.
Remulla, who is acting governor, filed the case that led to Maliksis’s suspension.
In front of hundreds of capitol employees, the acting governor declared: “I’m making the supreme sacrifice. I’m setting aside my political ambitions. For the sake of unity, I’m not running for governor in the 2007 elections.”
“I believe that being part of the problem, I should also be part of the solution,” he added.
The 39-year-old Remulla also recalled his 12-year stay at the capitol, which included a three-year term as board member and nine-year stint as vice governor.
His 10-minute speech was well-applauded by the employees, many of them Maliksi sympathizers.
Remulla said he was optimistic that his decision would pave the way for the unification of Cavite politicians, especially the local Magdalo Party, which had been divided into the Remulla and Maliksi factions.
Sought for comment, Representative Jesus Crispin Remulla, the vice governor’s older brother, said he respected his brother’s decision.
“Life is not all politics. There’s life after politics. It’s not the end all, be all of life,” the older Remulla said in a mobile phone interview.
He said he believed his brother’s choice of letting Maliksi run unopposed only showed their family’s true character and that are were not a political dynasty as others perceive them to be.
In an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Vice Governor Remulla disclosed that his decision not to run against Maliksi was spurred by the success of the reconciliatory talks between the suspended governor and administration Senator. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.
He denied that his decision was prompted by the intercession of the influential religious group Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ).
He said Maliksi and Revilla had resolved their differences and decided to support an administration-backed slate for the province’s elective seats in a meeting last Thursday.
The row between Revilla and Maliksi started after the governor accused the senator of influencing the Ombudman’s decision to suspend him for six months based on the graft case filed by Remulla.
Maliksi said his suspension was enforced after he turned down the senator’s appeal to accommodate his actress-wife Lani Mercado as his (Maliksi’s) running mate in the local elections.
Revilla, a former Cavite governor, denied the accusations and called Maliksi a political turncoat.
Remulla said although he was not present at the meeting, Revilla informed him about what transpired.
In a separate meeting they had over the weekend, Remulla, who once told the Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net, that being governor was his biggest ambition, said he promised Revilla he would “take the lead” in their efforts to unite the province.
“I just told Senator Bong that if they’re sincere, then I’ll take the lead. Let me be the example for everyone,” he said. “After all, politicians should not be self-centered.”
Asked how he felt after announcing his decision publicly, he said: “For me, this only showed my political maturity. It’s the tipping point of my career. It’s cathartic for me not to run for governor.”
He said his father, former Cavite governor Johnny Remulla, also understood his decision to let go of their family’s hold on the provincial leadership.
When asked if he was 100 percent sure of retiring from politics, he said: “There’s [a] 10 to 15 percent possibility that I will change my mind.”
Remulla said 17 of the 23 mayors of Cavite were also discouraging him from quitting his gubernatorial bid.
He said among the concessions made in the Revilla-Maliksi meeting was the dropping of Lani Mercado’s plan to run for vice governor.
He said Revilla likewise agreed to stop his brother, Strike Revilla, from running for mayor of Bacoor town against Maliksi’s prominent supporter, Vice Mayor Edwin Malvar.
In turn, Maliksi allegedly agreed to stop his son, Imus Vice Mayor Manny Maliksi, from running against Remulla’s ally, Mayor Homer Saquilayan.
Reached on his cellular phone, Maliksi admitted that he had indeed met with Revilla and decided to iron out their differences.
Maliksi said no one brokered the reconciliatory meeting. “Senator Bong and I felt that we should settle our problems for the benefit of the province.”
He said he was happy to hear that Remulla had decided not to challenge him in the coming elections. He said it only showed the vice governor’s sincerity.
Maliksi, however, denied that he had agreed to stop his son, Manny, from running for mayor in Imus.
He said his son’s situation was among the gray areas that he was still negotiating with Revilla.
The Inquirer tried to talk with Revilla but his aide said the senator was busy attending formal functions.
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|Legarda, Loren (GO)||1,445,355|
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|Pangilinan, Francis (IND)||1,270,851|
|Villar, Manuel Jr (GO)||1,267,929|
|Cayetano, Alan Peter (GO)||1,097,065|
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|Angara, Edgardo (TU)||999,396|
|Trillanes, Antonio IV (GO)||980,643|
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|Zubiri, Juan Miguel (TU)||957,930|
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|Aquino, Benigno Simeon III (GO)||11,107,999|
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|Cayetano, Alan Peter (GO)||9,030,748|
|Honasan, Gregorio (IND)||9,013,231|
|Arroyo, Joker (TU)||8,977,075|
|Trillanes, Antonio IV (GO)||8,710,648|
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|Legarda, Loren (GO)||18,352,290|
|Escudero, Francis Joseph (GO)||18,095,757|
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|Honasan, Gregorio (IND)||11,487,784|
|Trillanes, Antonio IV (GO)||11,138,067|
|Pimentel, Aquilino III (GO)||10,865,397|