Sunday, May 08, 2016

Election Day 2016: Your vote is your dignity

Everybody’s happy, to say the least.  Most of you, er, them know we have our own “share” as money is the talk of the town in Bohol province days before Monday’s elections.

Last night, Vidal (not his real name), a registered voter in Booy, was visiting houses to give “gifts.” He was not Santa but he had presents for all.

He said vote-buying still exists in Bohol and that aside from cash, candidates are also giving away assorted goods.

Vote buying is observed in the hotly contested mayoral contests in Tagbilaran City and the towns of Panglao, Trinidad, Loay, Albur, Loboc, Guindulman and Candijay.

While visiting a mall in Tagbilaran City yesterday, by coincidence, I bumped into Madame Susie Castaño, one of the outrageously flamboyant barangay officials in the city. I asked her some political updates for tomorrow’s Election Day.

“If kinsay mudaog, mao na ang gihatag sa Ginoo (Whoever will win, s/he is given by God),” she said.
Bu she said our vote can make a difference.

Susie Castaño: ‘By voting, you are making your voice heard 
and registering your opinion on how you think the 
government should operate...’ Leo Udtohan/Chronicle
“Voting is a fundamental process that keeps our system of government working,” said Madame Susie.

She added, “Fulfill your action tomorrow. By voting, you are making your voice heard and registering your opinion on how you think the government should operate.”

Tomorrow, we are set to decide who will get the chance to lead the country for the next six years.

Tomorrow, we will decide who will run our province for the next three years.  

Your vote is your dignity.

Meanwhile, here are the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV)’s 10 commandments for Responsible Voting (and reminders that vote buying is an evil act from Jagna Movement for Good Governance or JaMGGo):

1. Vote according to the dictates of your conscience.

2. Respect the decision of others in choosing their candidates.
Qualified leaders are hard to find. Vote wisely. Contributed Photos: Comelec

3. Seek to know the moral integrity, capabilities, and other personal qualities of the candidates you will vote for.

4. Strive to understand the issues, platform, and programs of candidates and parties campaigning for your vote.

5. Do not sell your vote.
6. Do not vote for candidates using guns, goons, gold, and glitter.

7. Do not vote for candidates tainted with graft and corruption.

8. Do not vote for candidates simply because of “utang na loob” (debt of gratitude), popularity, good looks, or “pakikisama” (peer pressure).

9. Do not vote for candidates living an immoral life.

10. Always put the welfare of the country as top priority in choosing the candidate you will vote for.

VRS wants to hear from you. Tell me what you thought about the election! You can e-mail me at

So long, Mayor Tom

For me, former Danao mayor Louis Thomas “Mayor Tom” Gonzaga was one of the coolest and unassuming public servants in the province.

I’d interviewed him several times even at his farm in Barangay Magtangtang in Danao town; he was very welcoming. He was one of those people with whom you could share just about anything. He was very unassuming; not intimidating at all.

The last time I met him was during the visit of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. last month.

Mayor Louis Thomas Gonzaga
There were times that the visits of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) standard-bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay to Bohol were off limits to media. However, I bombarded Mayor Tom with endless text messages and calls asking the whereabouts of Binay. I knew he gave up due to my unlimited “kakulitan” that I was able to do some exclusive stories for GMA News and Inquirer.

That was Mayor Tom. He never lost his temper, at least not in public.

Shock waves rippled through the political arena last Friday as news surfaced that Mayor Tom passed away last Thursday night, two days after he was found unconscious inside his house on Peñaflor street in Tagbilaran City on Tuesday, He was 46.

The family has yet to release a statement on the cause of his death but I learned from his close friends that the stress of the campaign and the heat may have taken a toll on his death.

According to Boy Pernia, a family friend of the Gonzagas, the former mayor may have given into stress and the extreme heat.

Although he was running unopposed for mayor under the UNA, Gonzaga, who is the party’s regional deputy coordinator in Bohol, was actively campaigning for Binay.

In 2010, Gonzaga helped Binay score a resounding victory in Danao with 4,618 votes against his then vice presidential rival, Mar Roxas, who got 1,742.

Pernia said Gonzaga attended meetings on Monday.

When he reached home late that night, he told his housemaid to wake him up at around 8 a.m. because he had to attend a political rally in Danao town, at least 92 kilometers from Tagbilaran.

But on Tuesday morning, the housemaid found him unconscious, prompting them to bring him to Ramiro Community Hospital (RCH) in Tagbilaran City.

Gonzaga was supposed attend UNA’s grand rally on Tuesday, said Danao Councilor Lirio Vitor, Gonzaga’s running mate.

He was admitted to the RCH’s intensive care unit where doctors were able to stabilize his condition. He, however, died at 11:51 p.m. on Thursday, four days before the May 9 elections.

“We lost a great leader who had a big vision for Danao,” said Vitor in a phone interview.

Bohol Rep. Erico Aristotle Aumentado, Gonzaga’s friend and ally, was also saddened by his death.

“I deeply mourn the passing of a friend and brother. Mayor Tom was the epitome of transparent and selfless service not receiving even a cent from his salary and instead gave this amount to the needy. The second district leadership assures the people of Danao of my unwavering support to make your lives a little better,” said Aumentado.

Several supporters and friends of the former mayor have expressed their sympathies on social media.

Edik Dolotina posted on Facebook, “Rest in peace Mayor Tom Gonzaga of Danao, Bohol. You were one of the people who brought ecotourism in Bohol into the limelight with your E.A.T. Danao...”

 “U are not gone, ur just ahead of us... (Roomate, boss tom,mayor tom, tompax, masto, idol) sa sunod natong panagtagbo... Salamat sa tanan... Ur d man..,” said Dominic “Dobap” Aparicio on Instagram.

Gonzaga, UNA’s vice chairman in Central Visayas, was Danao mayor from June 2004 to June 2013. He also served as vice mayor to his mother, Natividad Gonzaga, in 2013. He was also  an active member of APO-Zeta Omega 1987A .

Gonzaga, one of the most accomplished and experienced public servants, created the Danao Extreme Adventure Park which put the town on the tourism map.
Danao, a fourth class municipality with 17 barangays (villages), was the headquarters of Francisco Dagohoy’s rebellion.

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