|Left: Paje, Right: Salceda|
When prodded by the local media, Paje neither confirmed nor denied his political plans for 2016 in the province of Albay saying that he “did not come from a family of politicians.”
The secretary went on to say that he was willing to serve the province in any capacity he can.
This pronouncement from Paje came as a surprise to local political observers keeping tabs on the issue about the gubernatorial succession in the Bicolano province.
Paje was in town to preside over the DENR’s National Management Conference and launch the Barangay Forest Program of their department.
In the previous months, Gov. Salceda installed his brother Jessap Salceda as provincial administrator.
The appointment fuelled speculation that the governor was grooming his sibling to succeed him when his term expires in 2016.
This recent pronouncement by Paje however turned the rumour completely around.
Gov. Joey Salceda held the reins of power in Albay following his victory in 2007.
He run unopposed during his last term and is globally recognized for his disaster mitigation and climate change adaptation programs in the province.
According to the same political observers, Paje is seemingly the most logical choice to succeed him because of his extensive experience in addressing environmental protection issues.
Salceda, a native of Polangui town, and Paje, a native of the municipality Guinobatan, both come from the same congressional district.
They also belong to the ruling Liberal Party.
Meanwhile, Salceda is now rumoured to be eyeing the congressional seat of the 2nd District of Albay.
As of press time, Salceda has yet to confirm these statements.
In a related recent development, Sec. Jericho Petilla of the Department of Energy also visited Albay Monday.
Unlike Paje, Petilla confidently announced his intentions in 2016 although he did not elaborate what position he was running for. (Joey B. Garalde, CBCP News)