Ilagan, Isabela—A former Labor Department director thinks it’s about time this city had a homegrown lawmaker.
“I think it is about time for Ilagan to elect a congressman that it can call its own,” said Dr. Jun Cruz in confirming rumors that he will run for Congress in the May 2019 elections.
A close associate of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Cruz recently resigned as a Director at the International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) of the Department of Labor and Employment.
Bello and Cruz are both natives of Ilagan, the capital city of Isabela. The province is the second largest in the country in terms of land area and recorded 1,593,566 people as of the 2015 census of the Philippine Statistics Authority.
The Albano family has held the congressional seat of Isabela’s first district, which includes this city, from the 8th Congress (in 1987) to the current 17th Congress.
But with the recent redistricting of Isabela province by virtue of Republic Act 11080, signed into law on Sept. 27, the first district retained all of the towns in the northern border and the eastern coast that it used to cover, except the town of Palanan, which was absorbed by the second district.
The Albanos are natives of Cabagan town, a relatively smaller town compared to Ilagan.
Rodolfo “Rudy” B. Albano Jr. and son Rodolfo “Rodito” T. Albano III took turns occupying the district’s seat in the House of Representatives for about 32 years.
The Albanos both served five terms, replacing each other once their constitutional consecutive three-term limit was through.
“I think former Ilagan Mayor Jay Diaz and realtor Noel Binag will agree with me. I am willing to just support them if one of them would be willing to run, for the sake of the Ilagueño dream,” Cruz told Manila Standard.
Cruz was a Provincial Board member during the term of Gov. Grace Padaca from 2004 to 2010.
This developed a few days after Isabela 3rd District Rep. Napoleon S. Dy announced he is breaking political ties with his brother, Governor Faustino G. Dy III.
“I am very sad that the present administration of the Provincial Government of Isabela has squandered people’s money,” said Rep. Dy.
Among the issues raised by the lawmaker against the provincial government in the press conference at his home were:
The P2.28-billion loan to construct the Ilagan-Divilacan Road, which has not been completed to date;
The controversial P200,000 provincial assistance given to each barangay in Isabela; and
The unexplained depletion of P2 billion in unspent funds left by former governor Grace Padaca when she left the capitol in 2010.
With only few weeks before the filing of candidacy for the 2019 midterm elections, Rep. Dy, who belongs to the Nationalist People’s Coalition, also announced he has forged an alliance with Padaca of the Liberal Party based on an anti-corruption platform.
Sources told the Standard the unexpected alliance started when a private Viber group called “Kontra Korapsyon at Kahirapan” or KKK fired up the interest of Rep. Dy, Padaca, former governor Faustino Dy Jr., former congressman Edwin Uy, and other prominent Isabela politicians.
Curiously, the province’s politicians lauded the redistricting of Isabela.
Rep. Dy told the Philippine News Agency on Sunday that this would mean “better development to village folks as additional Congress representatives would bring in projects aside from making laws vital to the country.”
Anac-IP Partylist Rep. Jose Panganiban Jr. agreed that the “large populace” would be helped with the additional congressmen.
Vice Gov. Antonio “Tonypet” Albano said the reapportionment shows that Isabela is “truly progressing and becoming a more vibrant province.”
“The six congressmen will be able to take care of their constituents as their congressional districts are now smaller in terms of municipalities and cities that they will represent. Therefore, only good will come out in having to have two more additional districts,” Albano told the PNA.