Nantes-Rodriguez Tandem First Political Salvo in Quezon by JOHN BELLO (BUSINESS MIRROR)

LUCENA CITY – The first political salvo in Quezon province has been fired last Thursday with the open and formal declaration of a political team-up between Quezon 1st District Rep. Rafael Nantes and former Quezon Gov. Eduardo Rodriguez to run as provincial governor and vice governor in the forthcoming May elections this year.

The declaration coincided with the 50th grand birthday celebration of Nantes at the Queen Margarette Restaurant in Bgy. Domoit here which was attended by several of his colleagues in the Lower House and an estimated 5 thousand people from the province 4 districts many of them clad in red, indicating Nantes supporters, and green for that of Rodriguez.

Former 4th district board member, lawyer Sonny Pulgar of Sentro ng Gabay Legal sa Quezon and who attended the occasion, told Business Mirror that the Nantes-Rodriguez tandem is a strong combination, a proper mix of experience, talent and intelligence that could propel Quezon province to development and unequalled local governance.

Pulgar’s view is shared by various sectors in the province who consider the political tandem of Nantes and Rodriguez as formidable and most likely unbeatable in the coming May 14 elections.

Incumbent Gov. Wilfrido Enverga is on his 3rd and last term and most likely to run again as Quezon 1st district congressman, the post he had previously held for 3 terms.

Nantes, national treasurer of the Liberal party and its Quezon provincial chairman, has been elected for 3 consecutive terms as congressman while Rodriguez, a Lakas party member, has been an undefeated governor since mid-80s up to mid 90s and responsible for the establishment of the 2 Quezon coal-fired power plants located in Pagbilao and Mauban.

Among those who expressed support at the Queen Margarette for the Nantes-Rodriguez tandem included mayors Victor Reyes of San Narciso, Dingdong Llamas of Mauban, Connie Doromal of Sariaya, Viring Nadres of Tayabas, Samson Delgado of Sampaloc, among others along with several vice mayors such as Roderick Alcala of Lucena city and Bong Maliwanag of Candelaria, and hundreds of municipal and barangay officials of the province.

LP Quezon congressmen Proceso Alcala (2nd District), Lorenzo Tañada III (4th District) and fellow congressmen Benjie Agarao of Laguna, Gener Tulagan of Pangasinan, Francis Escudero of Sorsogon and Benigno Aquino III of Tarlac, Rodriguez, Reyes, and Nantes’ wife, Betty, and their only son, Sammy, were seated from left to right of the birthday celebrant at the presidential table which was enlivened by 2 live bands and dance numbers during the entire celebration that started around 5 pm and lasted up to 2 am the following day.

Nantes’ colleagues, along with the mayors and other Quezon officials and friends who greeted him called him “Gob”, short for governor.

The Nantes-Rodriguez tandem virtually ended the previous team-up of Nantes and Catanauan Mayor Sebastian Serrano – hatched since early last year – who allegedly agreed to run for vice mayor in his town after his 3 terms as mayor.

The Nantes and Rodriguez tandem is up against the tandem of Vice Gov. David “Jay-Jay” Suarez and provincial board member Carlos “Kelly” Portes.

Suarez and Portes stand to get the absolute support of the young Suarez’s father, Quezon 3rd District Rep. Danilo Suarez and possibly Enverga since Portes has been the protégé and alleged “pointman” of the governor in the Sangguniang Panglalawigan.

Quezon 2nd district board member Vicente “Kulit” Alcala disclosed however that the young Suarez has been approaching him to run as his vice governor because Portes has been allegedly abandoned by Enverga whose son, Mark, will be running as vice governor alongside Lucena city mayor Ramon Talaga Jr.

Talaga is supposedly running for governor instead of gunning for reelection as city mayor owing to his alleged disqualification to run again for the same post. He has been city mayor since 1995 but was defeated in 1998 by Bernard Tagarao. Talaga however beat Tagarao in the recall election in 2000.

Another gubernatorial wannabe is Candelaria mayor David Emralino who, along with Talaga, are both allegedly seeking financial backing from former Manila Rep. Mark Jimenez for their electoral campaign.

Both will supposedly firm up their plan to run for governor up to Jan. 15.

Emralino, currently Quezon mayors league president, is taking a fresh stab at the gubernatorial fight since making his first try for the post in 1998.

The 4-way gubernatorial fight in Quezon in the coming May polls is considered to cost a lot of campaign money for the 4 well-endowed candidates especially Nantes and Suarez who are widely known to have long earned headway in their political drives since both have started 2 years ago as against Talaga and Emralino who have only expressed their intention to run for the same post very much later.

With Talaga out of the city mayoralty race, he is supposedly planning to field his son, former city councilor Romano Talaga against the incumbent city vice mayor Roderick “Dondon” Alcala for the post he is going to vacate.

The young Talaga has been defeated in his bid for congressional seat in the 2nd district by Cong. Alcala in the 2004 polls. The neophyte solon is the incumbent city vice mayor’s uncle.

Jimenez’ lawyer, former Phil Coconut Authority administrator Eduardo Escueta is allegedly planning to run as congressman in the province 2nd district against the 1st termer Alcala.

In the 4th district, the incumbent Tañada is facing a challenge from former Board Member Butch Rabaya who has gained headway in view of the long absence and lack of projects of Tañada. (JOHN BELLO )

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