Dipolog City: Will Yebes dethrone the Uy clan?

DIPOLOG CITY, Philippines – The battle continues for mayoral bet Rolando Yebes despite his failed bid in previous elections.

In 2016, Yebes went against current governor Roberto Uy in an attempt to reclaim his position. He however lost this run, trailing behind by 18.6% of votes.

After his unsuccessful bid for the gubernatorial seat, Yebes remains steadfast and now challenges his former rival's son, incumbent mayor Darel Dexter Uy, in Dipolog City's mayoral race alongside independent challenger Clyde Naong.

Yebes was a district collector for the Bureau of Customs before he entered politics in 2004. He was also governor of Zamboanga del Norte for 3 consecutive terms.

He later campaigned to become representative of the 2nd district of Zamboanga del Norte in 2013 – a bid that he also lost. That same year, Yebes faced raps for alleged vote buying, reported to have happened in a beach house he owns.

'Taga-Dipolog gayud'

In a live interview, Yebes was asked what motivated him to serve Dipolog City after having been in the provincial government. He proudly proclaimed himself and his running mates to be "taga-Dipolog gayud (truly from Dipolog)."

He followed with a claim that there has been a monopoly among the businesses in the city during the reign of the Uy clan.

"Mu-ingon sila [the Uys] nga progressive kuno ang Dipolog. Pero kung imo gyud tan-awon, imo gyud lantawon, imo gyud ihapon [the businesses], sila ra! Igsuon, amahan, anak, mga parente — mao ray nangadato sa Dipolog…. Sila ra ang na-progressive…. Kaming mga tawo sa Dipolog mga pobre man."

(The Uys say Dipolog is progressive. But when you really look at it, when you really count the businesses, it's just them! Siblings, fathers, children, relatives – they are the only ones getting richer in Dipolog…. They are the only ones who have become progressive…. We, the people of Dipolog are poor.)

One after the other

The Uy family have had their hands on Dipolog City for two decades now. Long before Roberto Uy became the provincial governor of Zamboanga del Norte in 2013, he was elected mayor of Dipolog City in 1998

After which, his wife Evelyn Uy took over in 2007. Their son Darel Uy now seeks to win a second mayoral term.

Over the family's combined terms, the city saw great urban development. One of the most notable proofs is the Dipolog Sunset Boulevard, which serves as a hub for business and tourism in the city. It also houses a space for members of the PWD association to make a living with "hilot."

In the year 2015 to 2018, Corazon C. Aquino Hospital was touted as the city's flagship health facility.

In Darel Uy's 3rd State of the City Address on March 2019, he mentioned that the Department of Public Works and Highways has also implemented the Dipolog Boulevard Extension Project, which will stretch the 1.6-kilometer seaside infrastructure up to 3 kilometers, making this the biggest singular project in all of Zamboanga Peninsula.

Their governance has also yielded several awards, including the 2018 Seal of Good Local Governance, 2018 National Performance Award from the National Anti-Drug Abuse Council, and Most Child-Friendly LGU in Region 9, among others. Evelyn Uy has also been recognized among the 100 Most Influential Filipinas in the World.

End to a reign?

Yebes is not the only one with allegations against him. The Uys were once tagged to have been involved with illegal drug trade as well as killings in the province.

Should he be able to dethrone Uy from his position, he promised this: "Well ibalik na nako nang programa nga nangabunting sa agrikultura. Ikaduha ana, ako jud gub-on ang monopoliya sa negosyo aning mga pamilya Uy." 

(I'm going to bring back the programs for agriculture. Second, I will demolish the business monopoly of the Uy family.)

Furthermore, he vows to be able to help the poor, especially with the struggle against paying taxes that he asserts to be remarkably high. Rappler.com