2 congressmen, mayor aim for Albay governor post

Congressman Fernando Gonzales, Congressman Al Francis Bichara and Mayor Noel Rosal
From L-R: Congressman Fernando Gonzales, Congressman Al Francis Bichara and Mayor Noel Rosal
This early, at least two congressmen and a city mayor are eyeing the governorship of Albay.

Former Albay governors now Congressmen Fernando Gonzalez (3rd District) and Al Francis Bichara (2nd District) have openly signified their intention to return to the capitol.

Bichara’s third term as congressman will end in 2016 while Gonzalez, who is barely on his second term, said that he was more comfortable being a governor, a post he held for only one term (2004-2007) after losing his reelection bid against then congressman Salceda.

The other prominent political figure eyeing the governorship is Legazpi Mayor Noel Rosal, who was city mayor from 2001 to 2010.

His wife, Geraldine, succeeded him for one term before he returned during the 2013 election.

He served as the city administrator during his wife’s incumbency.

Rosal is said to be open to either the governorship or the congressional seat of the second district, which will be vacated by Bichara.


Political analysts and business observers said that with the third and last term of Governor Joey Salceda ending in 2013, it is expected that prominent politicians will take interest to become governor.

They claim that the province, known as the site of the majestic and famous cone-shaped Mayon volcano is now the most sought-after convention site with the presence of world-class Oriental Hotel (former Mayon International Hotel) located in an upland village of this city overlooking Mt. Mayon, and the internationally known Misibis Bay Rain Tree Resort, among many other tourism-boosters.

By 2015, Albay would be one of the hosts of the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) Summit, with Misibis Resort as the conference site.

Misibis is found at Cagraray Island in Bacacay town reachable by land, boat, and cable car.

It is a 30-minute drive from Legazpi City, the province’s capital and government regional center.

Added to this is the completion and opening of the P4-billion Southern Luzon International Airport in time for the APEC Summit, which President Aquino wants to operate 24/7.

The airport project, located atop the hill of Barangay Comon in Daraga town, has Salceda as the proponent. It started during the last year in office of former president now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.


Analysts say that three gubernatorial hopefuls have shown their interests as early as 2010 but it had been theorized that it was a losing gamble to beat Salceda.

Just in case Rosal fights for the second district, he might find an undefeated heavyweight, Salceda, as opponent who has been rumored to be eyeing for a congressional seat should the governor find it later that the option for a senatorial seat is unconvincing and uncomfortable.

Aside from his residence in his hometown Polangui, he has also residential houses in Daraga town (2nd District) and in Tabaco City (1st District).

According to a source, many politicians are afraid to face Salceda in any local political exercise, citing his logistics and attraction to masses.

Latest development, however, showed that should the win-win scenario being proposed to give weight on personal political interests, Bichara allegedly would run as Daraga mayor while outgoing Daraga Mayor Jerry Jaucian would run as congressman for second district, Gonzalez for governor and Salceda for third district with Rosal seeking reelection, said retired mayor after 24 years Jose Arcangel of Jovellar town.

Salceda’s political officer Peter Encisa confirmed that the governor has lately considered to run for the third district.

Ironically, the heavyweight political figures occupying the top posts in Albay eyeing for the governorship and the most sought-after 2nd congressional district, being the regional site, are all from the province third district.

Salceda, Bichara, Gonzalez and Rosal are all from the third district -- Salceda from Polangui town and Gonzalez, Bichara and Rosal from the neighboring Ligao City.

The second biggest among the six Bicol provinces, Albay, and Legazpi were once controlled by the Imperial family of Legazpi for nearly three decades.

According to businessman Lito Tuanqui, former president of the Albay Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, many politicians are attracted to be governor of Albay.

Besides, the position of a congressman is now without pork barrel, thus, making it attractive, citing heavy expenses in election.

Political analysts said Salceda’s political relationship with the Albay lawmakers, including neophyte Rep. Edcel "Grex" Lagman (1st District), and certain local executives, however, has not been healthy allegedly because of the many scandals arising in the capitol and the excessive implementation of disaster’s preparedness projects that allegedly involves abusive use of funds by certain officials.

Salceda, also the UN senior global champion on climate change adaptation and UN Green Climate Fund board co-chair, is the pioneer of the country’s preemptive response that he made Albay as the only province with Climate Change Academy, first in the country and first in the world. (PNA) CTB/FGS/MU/CBD/


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