Retired prof runs against 2 'goliaths' for Baybay City mayoral seat
LEYTE, Philippines — An academician-turned-politician enters the hotly contested race for Baybay City mayor.
Fresh from retirement as professor of veterinary medicine at the Visayas State University, Dr Tomas “Doc Tom” Fernandez Jr is up against two political giants: incumbent city mayor Carmen Loreto-Cari, and businesswoman Marilou “Malot” Galenzoga-Baligod.
Cari is the aunt of former Energy Secretary Jericho Loreto-Petilla, while Malot is the wife of Levito Baligod, the PDAF scam lawyer. Both Petilla and Baligod are currently running for senator. (READ: #PHVote: Get to know your candidates)
Fernandez says he didn’t really plan on going into politics and just "wanted to be busy." He was even considering consultancy jobs in Pakistan and Angola before running for office.
“I was curious,” said Fernandez, when he was invited to a local meeting of a party called the Democratic Party of the Philippines (DPP).
“I was curious because I knew of the Liberal Party, I knew of Nacionalista, but what was this DPP? So I attended and ended up getting nominated and elected as one of the interim officials.”
Fernandez was convinced by DPP’s Leyte gubernatorial candidate Bal Falcone to run as Baybay City mayor, along with the backing of the party.
“Their programs, their thrusts, their mission were good,” says Fernandez.
From academics to politics
“I made a legacy. I had good performance, and I want to apply it to the local (politics)”, says Fernandez, who is credited for being a key figure in the establishment of the Department of Veterinary Medicine in VSU.
Fernandez seeks to apply his academic knowledge, as well as his experience in administration. His main platform is to provide jobs for Baybayanons.
In 2008, Fernandez produced an organic goat dewormer from Caimito, Makahiya, and Makabuhay plants. His dewormer formula and the findings of his study received huge acclaim and were deemed "especially relevant" for goat raisers worldwide.
If elected mayor, Fernandez said he would work out a partnership between VSU and public or private institutions willing to fund mass production of his goat dewormer to generate more jobs.
Fernandez also said he was considering a goat’s milk industry which could provide the raw material to create "halal" export products, which are in demand in Middle Eastern countries.
Unfazed despite inferior political machinery
Cari and her politically-entrenched family remained unchallenged in Baybay for 39 years until Malot Galenzoga-Baligod ran against them in the 2013 elections.
Cari is with the ruling Liberal Party, while Baligod is with Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). Both parties have already established core supporters, whereas newcomer Fernandez has not received much decisive support.
“I am banking on the sincerity of the people,” says Fernandez, who has been less active in traditional campaigning, not even putting up posters or holding the typical political rallies.
“I promise programs, not money. I have not put up posters and conducted rallies. If you put up posters, you will just be made fun of. They’ll draw horns on your head and blacken your teeth so you look funny. I don’t like that. But I have an upcoming caravan. I will really go into the barangays," he added.
Not paid to divide votes
Fernandez dismissed rumors of him being paid off by the Caris to break staunch political rival Marilou ‘Malot’ Galenzoga’s core voting group, as a third man in the Baybay City mayoral race.
Malot ran and lost in 2013, in a hotly contested race that was rife with violence, riots, harassment and even an assassination attempt.
Fernandez is related by blood to Malot, but denies allegations that he is merely being paid to divide the votes of his kin. Interestingly, Malot is also related to the Caris.
Fernandez supports Rodrigo ‘Rody’ Duterte for president and Bongbong Marcos for vice president.
With increasing crime rates and alleged drug problems in Baybay City, Fernandez is confident that if he and Duterte win, these issues can be addressed.
Fernandez admits that he has not yet seen Duterte’s implementation plan, but is confident that it is already there.
As election day nears, will Baybay City residents choose the 'David' among the candidates? Or will they give their vote to the political 'Goliaths' of the city? - Rappler.com