Solid North collapse feared as Pangasinan Gov. Espino snubs pro-Duterte manifesto

Published August 31, 2021, 1:24 PM

by Ben Rosario

The much-vaunted Solid North may have started to crumble on President Rodrigo Duterte who declared his intent to run for vice president in the 2022 elections.

Gov. Amado Espino III Pangasinan

Speculations of a collapse of the usual united political stance of Regions I, II and the Cordilleras were triggered by the alleged decision of Gov. Amado Espino III, head of vote-rich Pangasinan, not to join 41 other governors in the country in signing a “collective statement” supporting the nomination of Duterte as the official PDP-Laban vice presidential bet next year.

Backing Espino is former Transportation Undersecretary Thomas “Tim” Orbos, another party leader who belongs to the respected Orbos clan.

Orbos is the lead convenor of Ikaw Muna Pilipinas, a political movement that has been pushing for Manila Mayor Isko Moreno to run for president in the 2022 elections.

Based on numerous poll surveys conducted by highly reliable survey firms, Moreno is the only top political figure in the country who could win against either Duterte or his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

Political pundits believe that Moreno teaming up with Filipino boxing icon and Senator Manny Pacquiao could spell disaster to the campaign of current administration’s candidates for the highest post for next year.

“It was really surprising and unusual that Espino, who is the sitting PDP-Laban governor in Pangasinan, did not sign the ‘collective statement’ supporting the decision of President Duterte to run for vice president in next year’s polls,” said an influential political leader in Region 1 who requested anonymity.

PDP-Laban stalwarts were taken by surprise by Espino’s failure to sign the collective statement for Duterte’s vice presidential nomination considering that his father, former Rep.Amado Espino Jr. is the incumbent chairman of PDP-Laban in Pangasinan.

In the 2016 presidential elections, Pangasinan registered the third biggest number of votes among the country’s 81 provinces. The highest was Cebu, followed by Laguna.

In neighboring Cagayan Valley, political leaders of the Ikaw Muna Pilipinas movement said they believe Moreno is the right leader to lead the country, given his stellar performance as local chief executive of Manila. They endorsed Moreno for presidency in next year’s polls, saying he is “the most suitable for the position.

In addressing the more than 200 Cagayan Valley leaders during the series of consultations, Orbos underscored how Moreno was both effective and efficient in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A leader must possess qualities like compassion toward the people. A leader must be one who fulfills his promises not just through words but also action, among others. What he did and is still doing in Manila is from his heart, from his desire to help the people of Manila. I hope that he can do the same for the nation,” Orbos said, in his virtual message.

“It’s not about believing in him, although I believe in him. It’s more of how he made us believe in ourselves, how he made Manileños believe in themselves that they can overcome. That’s very important especially at this time when we do not know where the road will lead us,” he added.