Cong. Raul Tupas (left) and former congressman Niel Tupas Jr.

ILOILO – In the 5th District, the race for congressman in next year’s midterm election is still between the Tupases just like in the 2016 polls.

Former congressman Niel Tupas Jr. aims to defeat his younger brother Raul, the incumbent congressman.

Raul beat his elder brother’s wife Yvonne Angeli in 2016.

“Yes, that’s confirmed. Madalagan ako sa 5th District. Same man gihapon nga Liberal Party,” according to Niel Jr.

Raul, on the other hand, is seeking reelection under the Nacionalista Party.

The sons of the late governor Niel Tupas Sr. have not been on good terms since Raul decided to run against sister-in-law Yvonne Angeli who would have wanted to replace her husband as representative of the 5th District in the Lower House.

Niel Jr. admitted he is not actively seeking out political alliances in the district. Doing so is difficult because the Liberal Party is no longer in power, he explained.

Still, Niel Jr. expressed confidence of getting the people’s support.

“I’m relying on my good track record and on the love of my constituents. Not having a complete lineup doesn’t matter,” he said.

Niel Jr. served the 5th District as congressman for three consecutive terms of three years each (2007-2010; 2010-2013; 2013-2016). He ran for vice governor in 2016 but lost to then Guimbal mayor Christine Garin.

The 5th District is made up of the municipalities of Ajuy, Balasan, Barotac Viejo, Batad, Carles, Concepcion, Estancia, Lemery, San Dionisio, San Rafael, and Sara.

The 2019 elections are seen to further sour the relationship of the Tupas brothers. According to Niel Jr., however, he is open to reconciling with Raul.

“Kon gusto ‘ya mag-istorya, kadto sia sa akon (If he wants to talk to me, he should see me himself),” said the elder Tupas. “Manghud ko sia, palangga ko na (He’s my brother, I love him).”

But politics is another matter, according to Niel Jr.

“I don’t think ma-areglo ang public service, ma-areglo siguro ang personal matters,” he added.

Meanwhile, Raul said he respects his elder’s brother decision to run against him. He, however, is not backing down from his reelection bid. He said he is leaving it up to the people of the 5th District to decide.

According to the congressman, he had proven himself worthy of the trust and confidence that the people of his district bestowed on him, citing the projects he brought to northern Iloilo and the laws he principally sponsored such as the Universal Access to Quality Education and Free Irrigation Service Act.

Raul said he remains optimistic that he and his brother could patch things up – a wish of their late father.

He had been reaching out to Niel Jr. since 2016 after a bitter election, he revealed.

As to his lineup in the 2019 polls, Raul said this is almost complete – from candidates for Provincial Board member down to mayors, vice mayors and sangguniang bayan members.

It was a bitter sweet victory for Raul in the 2016 polls. Their father died six months before the elections without seeing his two warring sons reconcile.

Right after his victory two years ago, Raul said he hoped to restore broken family relationships and friendships fractured by politics.

Raul said he had promised his father and mother, former mayor Myrna Causing-Tupas of Barotac Viejo, that after the elections he would try to reconcile their family and unite the people of the 5th District.

Former governor Niel Sr., who died of multiple organ failure at the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City at the age of 82, endorsed the candidacy of daughter-in-law Yvonne Angeli on July 3, 2015. It was seen as an outright rejection of son Raul’s plan to seek the congressional post in the 5th District.

In an interview following the endorsement, however, Raul insinuated that their father may have been manipulated./PN

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