By Eldie Aguirre
THE efforts of all local chief executives in Davao del Sur for the approval of Republic Act 10360 – a law creating the province of Davao Occidental out of Davao del Sur –– paid off. More than 180 thousand voted for yes in October while those who expressed their opposition to the proposal were only 50 thousand.
Gov. Claude Bautista was able to convince local chief executives known as loyal allies of his political nemesis to rally behind his “yes” campaign.
Mayor Edwin Reyes (Bansalan), Mayor Arthur Davin (Magsaysay), Mayor Franco Calida (Hagonoy), and Mayor Butch Fernandez (Matanao) joined Digos Mayor Joseph Penas, Sta. Maria Mayor Rody Mariscal, and Padada Mayor Glady’s Rasonable in a press conference held before the barangay elections, and the referendum for R.A. 10360 to support Bautista in the quest to create another province.
Now that Davao Occidental is officially added to the list of provinces in the country, the people who are still within the turf of Davao del Sur are asking each other, “Is the governor willing to give up his chances of being reelected in 2016?”
Bautista has all the options––he could land in the history books as the first elected governor of Davao Occidental, and the last governor of the undivided Davao del Sur. R.A. 10360 specifically states the new set of elected officials will be on the next election following its ratification, which means Davao Occidental will officially function in 2016.
Definitely, no one knows what’s playing in his mind, now. If he chooses to keep his post as governor of Davao del Sur, Bautista must transfer his official residence within one year prior to the 2016 presidential and local elections, otherwise he will be disqualified given the fact that he is a resident of Malita, the capital town of the new province.
His transfer of residency will become a bad signal for those who are eyeing the gubernatorial post of Davao del Sur in 2016. The way I look at it, Auding prefers to be here than become the first governor of the newly created province.
If Auding will opt to run for governor in Davao Occidental, he will viciously be driving towards a head-on-collision with his brothers who are apparently preparing to grab the gubernatorial seat. So to avoid wrecking the intimate relationship with his immediate family, he will be forced to transfer his residence and seek reelection by 2016 which is a wise move. But this would intimidate to those who think he will vacate his current post to serve his bailiwick that is now another province.
In 2016, former governor Douglas Cagas will certainly stage a return bout knowing that Bautista have lost majority of his supporters since it is already within the jurisdiction of Davao Occidental. All potential bets for the gubernatorial seat of Davao del Sur will mushroom even before the 2016 polls because the ratification of another province leveled the political playing field in the mother province.
Although Auding is the seating governor, he could not assure of a landslide victory without his known bailiwick. His chance of retaining his post is to prove his worth as the local chief executive of Davao del Sur before his first term expires.
Knowing his competence, it will not be a tough job for Auding. However, his wisdom and reliability as a public servant must go through the acid test so that the people will have full satisfaction to thrust of his administration.