The ‘loss’ of Loren Legarda

IT’S A LOSS that could turn Sen. Loren Legarda into first lady representative of the lone district of Antique. It’s truly good for her that she has lost the problems caused by her detractors – the petitions questioning the validity of her candidacy for congresswoman of Antique before the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The petitions, filed by different people fronting for former governor/congressman Exequiel Javier, called her “a stranger who came out of nowhere”. The 72-year-old Javier, who had lorded over Antique politics for 30 years, had hoped to eliminate the popular senator from the congressional race to regain the House seat currently occupied by his “graduating” son Paolo.

Javier argued that Legarda was just renting “a beach house never intended to be her residence, since up to now she is still a resident of Malabon City.” Loren Legarda was indeed born there on Jan. 28, 1960 to Antonio Cabrera and Bessie Gella Bautista.

But the Comelec sustained Legarda’s claim that she had validly complied with requirements for transfer of residence to Barangay Mag-Aba in the town of Pandan.

Had Javier succeeded in edging Legarda out of the race, his return to the House against the remaining “token opponent” would have been predictable.

Javier knows that Loren has endeared herself to the Antiqueños in barely over one year since she announced her availability for the lone House seat. She has done in one “click” what Javier has not done in three decades – e.g., the rehabilitation of the Antique Airport, enabling a Philippine Airlines plane to fly twice a week to and from Clark Airport in Angeles City (a two- hour drive to Manila).

As an Antiqueño, this writer is fully aware of the senator’s roots. Her maternal grandmother, Carmen Gella Bautista, was born in Pandan. Her great grandfather, Ariston Gella, was a member of the Malolos Congress that crafted the first Philippine Constitution. Her great granduncles – Vicente Gella and Pedro Gella – were governor of Antique and mayor of Sibalom, respectively.

The last time she was in the capital town of San Jose to celebrate her birthday before an unprecedented crowd of 5,000, she was in high spirit, begging of her audience not to think of the elder Javier as her “enemy.”

“Poverty is our enemy, not one another,” she enthused. “Our goal of bringing progress to our province should not be marred by violence, black propaganda, and mudslinging.”

Methinks the elder Javier is already “resigned” to losing to the lady legislator. He would have to concentrate on strengthening the chances of his son, Cong. Paolo Javier, against the re-electionist governor, Rhodora “Dodod” Cadiao. As a Lapsus Calami item recently observed, pubic works’ contractors identified with the Javiers had banded together to fund the “Oplan Save the Prince”.

While there is no clear evidence in support of that fund-raising activity, we are tempted to ask: Could that “oplan” be the reason why influence peddlers in the provincial government now resist certain contractors doing business at the provincial capitol?

The anonymous Lapsus writer alleged that “winning” a bidding is not always the final step in bagging the contract. “Suspicious-looking winners” are allegedly compelled to pay bribe money to a gang of four (names withheld) known to all participating contractors.

Whether the “malpractice” alluded to above is true or false, may we ask the governor to vet the allegation that the winning contractor of a sea port in Pandan is under pressure to cough up a hefty P1.2 million in payola? (


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