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MANILA, Philippines – Dinagat Islands Vice Gov Jade Ecleo’s fight with her mother, Gov Glenda Ecleo, was probably one of the most defiant but painful political battles in the recently concluded mid-term elections.
In the end, the Ecleo matriarch defeated her daughter.
The final results showed the elder Ecleo garnered just 668 votes more than her daughter. The clash divided Dinagatnons with Glenda getting 23,428 and Jade garnering 22,760.
Jade is happy for her winning bets and for Gov Ecleo who is still her mother after all, newly elected Dinagat Islands Rep Kaka Bag-ao told Rappler shortly after her proclamation on Tuesday, May 14.
Jade supported Bag-ao's congressional bid against Jade's sister Gwendolyn Ecleo.
In an earlier interview, Jade told Rappler that she would run again if she loses in the election.
“Nobody could stop me from going to Dinagat even though I lose or whether I’ll win because I was born there and that’s what my dad told us before he left. His death wish was to be good to his people, to serve his people,” Jade said.
Bag-ao ran and won as guest candidate of the local Liberal Party with Jade as standard-bearer, cracking the political glass ceiling in Dinagat. (READ: Dinagat: Kaka cracks glass ceiling)
Although saddened by Jade’s defeat, Bag-ao expressed her admiration for Jade’s courage to defy her family, which has ruled the islands for nearly half a century.
“Yung ginawa ni Gov Jade na paglagay sa mga tao sa ganitong klase ng reality, sa pag-crack ng entrenched political power ng Ecleos, para sa akin ay napakalaking bagay na hinahangaan ko,” Bag-ao told Rappler in an earlier interview. (I greatly admire what Gov Jade did in exposing the people to a new social reality, in cracking the entrenched political power of the Ecleos.)
Jade's rather feisty attitude may have disappointed her family, but it endeared her to many of her constituents.
Many Dinagatnons observe Jade got the heart and charisma of her late father Ruben Ecleo Sr, founder of the influential Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA).
While Glenda defended her ground as the creator of the new province, the Jade-and-Kaka tandem ran on a platform of hope and change.
Aside from Bag-ao, only the Liberal Party mayoral bets in Tubajon and Loreto, towns which the Ecleos have not historically controlled, won in the crucial Dinagat Islands races.
The Ecleos, who ran under the Nacionalista Party, dominated in 5 other towns where many voters are members of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA), the spiritual organization founded by Jade's father Ruben Ecleo Sr.
Glenda's twins, Mayors Allan I and Allan II, won as re-electionists in the towns of Basilisa and San Jose, respectively. Another son, top PBMA leader Benglen, won as vice governor. Defeated congressional candidate Gwen's son, Craig, would replace her mother as mayor of Dinagat town.
Bag-ao believes that it would not be easy for her and her few allies to push for the kind change and development they wanted to introduce across the province, one of those with the lowest income in the country.
“I’m sure they will do everything in their powers to make sure that I don’t succeed,” Bag-ao told Rappler.
Bag-ao vowed she will hold herself accountable to the people of Dinagat and enjoined the Ecleos to the same.
Although a small province with a voter population of 65,345, the outcome of the elections in Dinagat Islands is crucial to the Aquino administration known for its efforts to curb corruption. – Rappler.com
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