Umali hits Vergara for ‘unstatesman-like conduct’

By Jason de Asis


CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, February 4, 2011-Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali has assailed Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara for the latter’s alleged unstatesman-like conduct for claiming he was just trying to annoy the governor’s camp in pushing for the conversion of the city into a highly urbanized city (HUC).


“It’s very unstatesman-like,” Umali said, referring to Vergara’s antics concerning his HUC bid.


Earlier, Vergara told newsmen he was having fun in spearheading the campaign for the HUC even if this has sparked a negative reaction from Umali, his estranged erstwhile political ally.


“Nanga-asar lang ako. ‘Di pa ko tapos mang-asar eh (I’m just trying to annoy them. I have not finished annoying them),” he said, in jest.


Umali said Vergara’s antics are both uncalled for and inappropriate, considering that the issue at hand is highly significant because it involves the welfare of Novo Ecijanos and the latter’s freedom to choose their provincial governor.


“Gawain ba ng isang statesman ang mang-asar sa isang pang-aasar (Is it the workings of a statesman to engage in provocation)? on a valid issue? Of course not,” he said.


The governor and Vergara have been locked up in a bitter word war since October over the HUC bid. The plan, which will be ratified in a plebiscite has also divided their own political allies and supporters.


Their feud is considered the biggest political break-up since they formed a formidable alliance to topple the Josons from the provincial Capitol, ending the clan’s half-century reign in the province.


Vergara has claimed that he is still feeling the public pulse and consulting with his political subordinates and the citizenry and that he has not made up his mind on whether to pursue the HUC or not. In fact, he said, there was no resolution yet passed by the city council supporting the HUC bid.


The governor also took exception to Vergara’s statements that once it becomes HUC, Cabanatuan would be freed from being Nueva Ecija’s slave. “He keeps on saying that Cabanatuan would be set free from slavery. But Nueva Ecija has never enslaved Cabanatuan,” he said.


Umali also denied Vergara’s claim that he (Umali) was trying to blackmail the people of Cabanatuan by saying if they supported the HUC, he would withdraw the provincial government’s support to them. “Vergara’s camp has been spreading the word that after I won as governor with their support, I would abandon them. And that in the process, I do not owe them a debt of gratitude,” he said.


“The truth has been twisted and reversed by Vergara. The truth is that I am opposing the HUC because I still want to continue serving the people of Cabanatuan through the delivery of basic services such as infrastructure, health and education,” he stressed. (Jason de Asis)


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