Lawyer Augustinus “Dodong” Gonzaga and ex-Vice Mayor Jose “Toto” Antonio Veloso have joined forces and formed a strong tandem for Tagbilaran City mayor and vice mayor, respectively, in 2013.
Veloso’s sliding down for vice mayor after expressing earlier his bid for mayor is seen as a “great sacrifice” to keep the strength of the group while consolidating with new forces.
It is likewise considered a wise choice to ensure victory and bring about the best transition at city hall with Gonzaga as chief executive and Veloso presiding over the legislature, which is the Sangguniang Panlungsod.
Ending speculation that the two are not yet in final terms, the Gonzaga-Veloso team-up signals a likely three-cornered fight in the city.
As this developed, First District Rep. Rene Relampagos declared unequivocally that he and the administration party are fully supporting the formidable pair.
He disclosed that in a meeting of all key leaders of the administration’s local party from 15 city barangays, there was unanimity for an all-out support for the Gonzaga-Veloso ticket.
The congressman attended the meeting together with Gov. Edgar Chatto himself, Provincial Administrator Alfonso Damalerio II, First District Board Members Cesar Tomas Lopez, Abeleon Damalerio and Benjie Arcamo, and former City Mayor Jose Torralba, among others.
Torralba said his wife, Kag. Alberta Torralba, is seeking reelection in the Gonzaga-Veloso slate precisely because “this is the group of our governor, the group of our congressman, and this is our group.”
The former mayor has joined Gonzaga and Veloso in barangay rounds as the team-up is steadily gaining more grounds, wider acceptance and stronger support.
The man indeed has wisdom, vision and strong sense of fulfilling his goals, according to those who have encountered Gonzaga in his “familiarization” barangay sorties.
With the Gonzaga-Veloso merger, Relampagos hinted that next year’s poll for city mayor is going to look like a three-cornered fight.
Last-termer Mayor Dan Lim has openly pushed his US-based brother, Abraham “Abe” Lim, to succeed him while their nephew, John Gessnell “Baba” Yap, who is an incumbent first-termer councilor, has been floated for mayor too.
Relampagos said what the city needs is a transition leader who is mature and has competent record, experience and access to the present national leadership.
Gonzaga, a former Tagbilaran City councilor and Integrated Bar of the Philippines Governor and Executive Director, is soon leaving his present post as deputy secretary of the powerful Commission on Appointments.
He has been a trusted able staff of Sen. Franklin Drilon, the Senate Finance Committee head and Vice Chairman of the ruling Liberal Party (LP).
Veloso is an alumnus of the National College of Public Administration and Governance of the University of the Philippines and Development Academy of the Philippines.
Sharing the people’s frustration, Relampagos felt that Tagbilaran City, which is Bohol’s capital and lone city, under the present mayor must be very unfortunate lagging behind over the years.
He said the people of Tagbilaran need to capitalize on the fact that the governor and himself as congressman have direct access to Malacañang.
To be propelled to its deserved development height, the city has to have a credible team of leaders who can effectively work and relate with the governor and congressman on support for needed projects, Relampagos said.
Gonzaga is married to a sister of the congressman. He is also a brother-in-law of local retail giant Fred Ong of Bohol Quality, the latter’s wife being Gonzaga’s sister.
Veloso, on the other hand, is a brother-in-law of the governor.
Relampagos, a Bohol pillar of LP together with the governor and Vice Gov. Concepcion Lim, assured that a lot can be accomplished in the city under the Gonzaga-Veloso leadership.
SELFLESS DECISION FOR CITY’S GOOD
Veloso admitted that it was not easy for him sliding down to vice mayor, a supreme decision perceived by many, especially his supporters, as a selfless personal and political act.
It was then even harder explaining and convincing his family, and staunch leaders to understand and support his decision.
While the tandem is formed to ensure victory, Veloso is himself convinced by the equal good motive, credibility and competence of Gonzaga to handle the city affairs in the crucial transition.
Different sectors have faith in the duo to cause positive reforms and restore city hall dignity, which have been both the crying demands of the constituents.
The probables for the Gonzaga-Veloso slate for councilors include prominent names who are perceived to be strong contenders.
ADVOCACIES THAT SOLVE
The prevailing ill conditions of the city are forcing the issue of championing the advocacies that address them, not cause them to linger on.
With Veloso, Gonzaga advocates what he calls a transformative change modified by a leadership that is transparent, accountable, consultative, efficient and competent.
A public mandate is never meant to harass or frustrate because a government can fail when people submit out of fear, in despair, he said.
Not missing to vote in Tagbilaran City, Gonzaga has regularly come home and thus known all these years the mounting issues and concerns affecting the city.
It boomerangs to anyone accusing him of being a stranger to Tagbilaran because he had in fact served as a city councilor until 1986, executing strategies that have become models of today’s sports and youth development programs.
Gonzaga was responsible for the summer leagues and inter-barangay tournaments linked with the different schools and private sector.
He also chaired the health committee during the Rocha administration which acquired the city hospital, now the Bohol cooperative hospital.
Gonzaga can fully harness the potentials for the progress of the city, taking into account, too, the need to accelerate economic movements and cause jobs, more livelihood chances, said a confident Relampagos.
A lawyer for 40 years now after graduating from the University of the Philippines (with post-graduate program at Harvard University in the US), Gonzaga has already worked in the executive (LGU-Tagbilaran), legislative (Office of Sen. Franklin Drilon and Commission on Appointments) and judicial (Supreme Court) branches of the government.
The Gonzaga-Veloso tandem has envisioned a city hall that involves the barangays in consultative, participative public administration.
In a city where leadership is insensitive to the constituency, the Gonzaga-Veloso pair is labeled “GV” for people’s “Good Vibes.”
In a city where mandate is undone, the tandem is billed “DT” for “Doers for Tagbilaran,” the initials clearly derived by their supporters from Gonzaga’s nickname of Dodong and Veloso’s Toto.
Gonzaga expressed strong faith in the people. “Just show them you honestly care and not make them stupid.”
But before seeking the people’s support, it is wise to seek God’s guidance first, said Gonzaga who is a man of faith.
His belief that “life is useless if your soul is sick” precisely further drives his mission to resuscitate city hall’s moral ascendancy from drowning power.
Authors: Ven Rebo Arigo & Jill Christianae A. Rendon