Alluring Antique

"Once a politician, you’d be thinking of nothing else but to aspire for public office."


Antique province lies in the western section of Panay Island, and borders Aklan, Capiz and Iloilo to the east, and faces the Sulu Sea to the west. It has 18 municipalities and 590 barangays, and as of 2015, its population stood at 582,012. It has rich mineral deposits, with its mountains yielding copper, marble, silica, coal and clay, but poverty incidence in the province is around 26 percent. Two killer typhoons devastated Antique in recent years, Typhoon “Frank” in 2008 and Super Typhoon “Yolanda” in 2013.

It comes as a surprise to many that Senator Loren Legarda traces her roots to the province and considers Antiqueños as kababayan. In fact, she wants to represent the province in the Lower House after sitting for 18 years in the Senate.

It seems that once a politician, you’d be thinking of nothing else but to aspire for public office. In this sense, Legarda shares the same boat with her fellow senator, Chiz Escudero, who wants to run for governor of Sorsogon as his term also ends this year.

Legarda has always called Malabon City home, because that’s her mother’s hometown. Even then, coming from national position is no assurance to win in a local election. Take, for instance, the late Blas Ople who held various key national positions but did not win a local position in Bulacan, his home province. Former Senator Lito Lapid lost the mayoralty race in 2016 in his hometown in Pampanga and now wants to return to the Senate.

Legarda is currently the chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance. But if Antique’s economic development leaves much to be desired compared to its neighbors, that means she has judiciously allocated taxpayers’ money without any favoritism, unlike a predecessor who held the position during the previous administration who made sure his province would get enough funds for vital socioeconomic projects.

Aside from running for a congressional seat, Legarda appears to be covering all her political bases. The scuttlebutt is that she has her own party-list group, Luntiang Pilipinas, also running in May, apart from two other party-list groups that’s allied with her camp. If these party-list groups would really help in protecting the environment, why not?

Given all this, observers are wondering whether Legarda wants to become the next House Speaker, using Antique as her stepping stone. Or perhaps even Prime Minister if the shift to a federal-parliamentary system of government takes off?

Better times ahead for Okada Manila?

Our monitoring of the intra-corporate dispute involving casino mogul Kazuo Okada and his ownership of Okada Manila yielded this bit of information: its parent company, Tiger Resort Asia Limited recently completed acquisition of the majority shares of Philippine Stock Exchange listed company, Asiabest Group International Inc. 

The Hong Kong-based TRAL, the parent company of Tiger Resort, Leisure, and Entertainment Inc. acquired 66.6 percent of  ABG’s listed shares, paving the away for the eventual public listing of TRLEI which operates Okada Manila.

Following these developments, Okada Manila is likely to change its brand name to focus on streamlining its operations and starting anew on a clean slate. The brand name change is seen as a TRLEI move to make a clean break with former chairman Kazuo Okada who was ousted in 2017 from the TRLEI and UEC Group.

Okada Manila, the largest luxury integrated resort in the Philippines, is a fully owned subsidiary of Universal Entertainment Corp., a publicly listed company in the Tokyo bourse.

As we reported recently, the Tokyo District Court decision in Jan. 25 affirmed the validity of a 2017 trust agreement between Okada scions Tomohiro and Hiromi that caused the ouster of the elder Okada from the Hong Kong firm Okada Holdings Ltd. which owns 67.9 percent of UEC.

The Tokyo court ruling is considered a turning point in the dispute between the 77-year-old Okada and the current management of the UEC group. 

One source said “the Tokyo ruling effectively confirms the legality of the removal of Mr. Okada and makes it almost impossible for him to regain control of OHL, UEC and its subsidiaries, including Okada Manila.”

In July 30 last year, Okada was nabbed in Hong Kong and subjected to a 10-hour intense interrogation over suspicion of multiple bribery by the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption. ICAC also ordered Okada to stay in Hong Kong once a month each year—or be hunted down like a fugitive from justice everywhere he goes.

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Topics: Ernesto Hilario , Antique province , Panay Island
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