ROUGH CUTS| How the 3rd could be won

WE’VE told you long before, and we are telling you again that the Congressional contest in Davao City’s third district is the only exciting and probably “hot” election event in this coming May 9 national and local polls in this part of the country. This is because there are two real opposing candidates who have the names, the money, organizations, named endorsers and down-to-earth styles of campaigning. The candidates who are offering themselves to serve the district’s constituents are Engr. Alberto Ungab, younger brother of incumbent congressman Isidro “Roy” Ungab, and young lawyer but third termer councilor Kaloy Bello, son of former Justice Secretary and 1BAP Partylist congressman Silvestre Bello III.

Kaloy Bello is also a grandson of the late revered mayor Luis Toribio Santos.

     If only to take a look into the chances of winning by any of the two in the coming polls and to help guide third district voters to make their choice between the two we are putting forward our personal evaluation of the pluses and minuses of both.

     Let us take first the chances of candidate Abet Ungab. First and foremost, Abet is riding on the unarguably high performance record of his brother Sid. The latter has made a name in the Halls of Congress having chaired for the longest time one of, if not the most influential committees of the Lower House, the Congressional Appropriations Committee. That body is in charge of allocating the now more than one trillion pesos national budget into the various programs and project of government. And as the chief handler of the country’s “money bag” all congressmen cannot help but form some kind of a bee line towards Ungab’s committee lobbying for allocation of budget for their favorite projects. So it would not be surprising if right in the sanctum of that committee there will be some “horse trading” or favor exchanges deals.

     And how does that rub on in Abet’s chances of trouncing the younger Bello? Well, as the incumbent’s chief of staff Abet is the face of his congressman brother in the community where the infrastructure and other social projects are put in place.

     Yes, the engineer, by the nature of his job, was already “campaigning” since he started representing his brother in the many activities and consultative meetings that were attendant to the incumbent’s job as lawmaker for the city’s third congressional district.

     As a consequence Abet has become so familiar not only with the constituents of Sid but also with the nitty-gritty of the work of a congressman. He may not have actual exposure in legislation making but sure he has helped provide Songressman Sid with ideas what projects he could provide support legislation not only for his district but for other parts of the country as well.

     Does Abet have the organization to possibly carry him to victory? Of course he has one and that is inherited from his brother. Remember the gathering of almost all barangay captains of the third district at the Freedom Park pleading to mayor Duterte to allow them a free hand in supporting congressman Ungab’s anointed candidate for his post? It was a clear signal that the incumbent has laid a very strong organizational infrastructure not only for himself but for his younger brother.

     And who are the barangay officials who will not feel beholden to Ungab with all the projects sprouting in their respective areas? New multi-storey school buildings, barangay halls, water projects in areas not reached by the mainstream water utility, concreted roads even in the remotest of areas in his district, day care centers, covered courts, name it and you see it.

     While Engineer Ungab got some initial setback of his congressional run by the endorsement of Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod Party founding chair now Presidential Candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of the younger Bello, of late the brother of the incumbent Ungab is also riding high with the open endorsement of the Mayor’s daughter and mayoralty candidate Inday Sara Duterte Carpio. If all these are not built-in advantages of Engineer Ungab then what else? And if he cannot make use of all those pluses then he must be gloating with over-confidence.

     But there are people who are claiming that Ungab can be derailed with one important personal trait that he seems not to have gotten from his brother. And they are referring to Sid’s always ready grin wherever you meet him at any time of the day. It is this Sid’s limitless happy disposition despite the rigors of his job that endeared him to the third district constituency.

     Now let’s take a look at Kaloy Bello’s qualifications. As we said earlier in this piece Kaloy is a son of a former Justice Secretary who was also a former Davao City Administrator. His grandfather the late former mayor Luis T. Santos was also a former Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG) during the time of the Cory Aquino administration.

     Old timers in the city who are still around can attest with certainty that the years of his grandfather’s administration was largely responsible for the laying of the foundation of what Davao City is now today.

And it was also an era of peace in the city even as when Martial Law was declared he was initially jailed.

His late grandfather was also a leading figure in the fight against the dictatorship especially after the death of Ninoy Aquino. Kaloy’s own father was also among the “Yellow” lawyers in the city who represented suspected activists arrested by the military and the police during the dictatorship.

     Kaloy Bello may not have generated as many projects as Sid Ungab has now that he is Congressman. However, he could probably match Sid’s performance while the latter was also a member of the city council.

     Bello can count of his grandfather’s remaining loyal supporters in the third district. And he too can take advantage of his youth in dealing with the grueling campaign in the rough terrain of the third district. His happy disposition could also be a major magnet to the substantially huge number of first time voters come May 9 elections.

     Now, how will both candidates do their individual pitch for voters’ support could also be a factor that can be counted for them to attain their goal of winning the election.

     To quote the late Sen. Landring Almendras, “Let us to see.”

Posted in Opinion