For the first time, Cabinet Secretary Leoncio “Toloy” Evasco Jr. yesterday met with many mayors of Bohol in what appeared to be an advanced political positioning strategy intended for the 2019 local elections, sources have told The Bohol Tribune.
Already more visible at many local events in Bohol than at activities in the national scene, Evasco yesterday made his presence more imposing in the province’s political landscape at the Dao Diamond Hotel as he held dialogues with mayors about possible funding of local projects.
The mayors were expecting something bigger than a political confession from Evasco, but their attendance was more of a form of courtesy accorded to a Cabinet official, who is known for his unbreakable relationship with President Rodrigo Duterte, sources said.
According to a source privy to the not-so-private meeting at Dao Diamond, Second District Rep. Aris Aumentado had arranged the meeting, tagging with him most of the mayors of his district.
“The meeting was all about project opportunities as to how the national government can channel its funding to locally-initiated programs,” the source said. “In fact it was Cabsec Evasco’s first ever meeting with mayors in Bohol.”
“Although the Cabinet Secretary (Evasco) has been floated as a likely candidate for governor in the 2019 election, the meeting yesterday was not related to Evasco’s political plans,” the source added.
But as what another source had said that “if actions speak louder than words”, “what more words about Evasco’s political ambition would we want to hear from him when it was all apparent that he was already courting the early support of the mayors?”
Among those seen attending the not-so-discreet meeting, which was not announced to the media, were the mayors of Maribojoc, Cortes, Loon, Calape, Tubigon, Baclayon, Alburquerque, Corella, Sikatuna, Balilihan, Dauis, and Catigbian, for the First District of the province.
Also notable were local executives from the Second and District including the mayors of Jetafe, Sagbayan, Sierra-Bullones, Pilar, Talibon, Gonzaga, Sevilla, Lila, Garcia Hernandez, Anda, Jagna, Candijay, Clarin, Alicia, Dagohoy, Ubay, Carlos P. Garcia Island (Pitogo), Bien Unido, Bilar, Carmen, Dimiao, Mabini, Loboc, Batuan, Trinidad, Antequera, and Guindulman.
“Matawag natong a sobra kaajo sa majority ang mga mayor nga mitambong sa maong meeting,” (we can say the number of mayors attended went over the majority) the source said.
“Of course, the meeting could be subject to various interpretations, but it was more of a consultation for projects in the towns that can be funded by the national government,” the source added.
PARTNERSHIP WITH PUBLIC AND PRIVATE AGENCIES
Meanwhile, Evasco had cited the mission and partnership among public and private agencies and institutions to sustain life and development in Bohol with Gov. Edgar Chatto at the helm.
“We cannot do all alone and that is why we are thankful to all for taking part in achieving each goal,” he said.
On behalf of the Duterte administration, Evasco lauded the good governance and shared leadership of the province during Bohol’s ninth heart surgical mission culmination-recognitionprogram on Friday.
Sponsored by the provincial government, the free massive heart operation for poor and indigent patients was performed by volunteer doctors from the Philippine Heart Center and Heart Foundation of the Philippines.
It was the group’s ninth heart mission in Bohol since 2001, all principally sponsored by the provincial government.
As in the past, the heart surgical mission was facilitated by the Philippine Gif of Life (PGL) under its president and chief executive officer, Francisca Baluyot, who is also Chatto’s consultant.
Evasco and Chatto both thanked the surgical team led by Dr. Florante Lomibao, Baluyot and the rest in the PGL, and volunteers and supporters from all other groups, both in public and private sectors.
Accompanied by Baluyot, Chatto had himself a get-well-soon visit to the patients inside their recovery rooms.
The mission was done at the Borja Family Hospital from September 9 to 17, rendering free surgical services to patients with varied heart conditions who were either from Bohol or other provinces.
“You can actually decide to give or not to give, but you have chosen to serve and become instruments of healing,” Evasco told all behind the successful mission during the recognition rite and fellowship night at Bohol Tropics.
The Tagbilaran City government led by Mayor John Geesnell Yap II, also present in the culmination ceremony, shared the recognition for likewise being a consistent supporter of the work of mercy.
Such a mission again showed the responsiveness to the health need of the people, providing compassionate and extra care to the sick, the cabinet secretary said.
In the national level, Evasco said the Duterte administration is ensuring that all Filipinos, especially the poor, will have healthy, long, productive lives.
He said the partnership that promotes an active citizenry contributing to social welfare is a key to sustainable development.
For him, the involvement of the country’s heart center and foundation in the major health mission program spearheaded by the province and Gift of Life is a concrete model.
Evasco especially mentioned Baluyot and her team whose commitment to life has been crucial to the sustained partnership.
Baluyot at the same time serves as the surgical-medical mission consultant to both the provincial governor and city mayor.
Bohol is blessed with not just beautiful natural resources but also competent human resources, according to Evasco who asked everyone to be willing to contribute to Bohol’s betterment.
“We are thankful to our local leaders like Gov. Chatto,” Evasco said, for the meaningful use of “social, economic, cultural, political and environmental resources through good governance and effective partnership.”
The cabinet secretary, who is a former Maribojoc mayor, acknowledged Bohol’s increasing global competitiveness now.
He pledged support to ensure functional and efficient health care network that improves services to the most vulnerable.
Chatto said the cabinet secretary has fully supported the aggressive health care agenda for Bohol topped by the construction of a new Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital in Cortes. (with a report from VenreboArigo)