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By Elmer Recuerdo
TACLOBAN CITY — Administration party PDP-Laban is strengthening its hold in the grassroots with the recruitment of two governors in Eastern Visayas to the party.
Leyte Gov. Dominic Petilla and Biliran Gov. Gerry Espina left their Liberal Party membership and took their oaths, on separate occasions, as new PDP-Laban party members.
Petilla joins his elder brother, former Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, who recently severed ties with Liberal Party to join the PDP-Laban. Petilla said his family had a long friendship with former Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr., the father of PDP-Laban National Chairman and Senate President Aquilino L. Pimentel III.
“Our friendship dates back to the martial-law era when his father and my father fought together against the dictatorship,” the governor added. “We were the activists of that time.”
Petilla took his oath of membership to PDP-Laban in a rite officiated by Pimentel. He said his decision to join PDP-Laban will result to harmonious relationship between the province and the national government and will be beneficial to the province.
“We want a smooth working relationship between the national and local government so it will be easier to implement projects that are beneficial to the people,” said. “The national government will not hesitate to implement projects in the province, knowing I will have the local support since we are one in political color.”
But local members of PDP-Laban said the governor and his bother cannot be considered yet as full members, since they still have to undergo the basic membership seminar.
“As of this time, they have not contacted the provincial council, and no membership forms have been forwarded to any council as of yet,” said Butch Colasito, chairman of PDP-Laban in Leyte’s First District.
“They will have to submit to the barangay council where they reside or a voter thereto, then the barangay council will forward their membership form to the municipal council,” Colasito said. “The municipal council shall assess their membership and forwards it to the district council and district gives recommendation to provincial council then provincial council shall forward their membership forms to the national council, which will inform the provincial council of the date of basic membership seminar.”
“As district president and as a council we welcome any individual as long as they underwent the processes and there has been validation of the individual concerned,” he said. “If any of the council interposes an objection to the membership for a valid reason then the party will accept the decision of the concerned council.”
Vice Governor Carlos Loreto, a cousin of the Petillas, however said that he is not yet ready for jump into another political party considering that he has a lot of programs and priority provincial ordinances to attend to at this time.
“It is not yet my priority and besides the election period is still far. The people of the province deserve first the services from the Provincial Board,” Loreto said.
In Biliran, Espina, together with his vice governor and over 100 local officials from different political parties, took his oath as PDP-Laban member.
The governor, who is on his last term, also confirmed that he will run for a congressional seat in the lone district of Biliran to replace his elder brother, incumbent Rep. Rogelio Espina, who will run for the gubernatorial post instead.
His congressman-brother however did not attend the PDP-Laban membership seminar and maintained his decision not to join the party and remain still with the Nacionalista Party.