Joson joining Umali camp? Boyet says it’s possible

By Jason de Asis


QUEZON, Nueva Ecija, November 25, 2010–“If you can’t beat them, join them.”


This saying appears to be holding true in the case of the camp of the once politically dominant Joson clan after one of its members said he is willing to join Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali in his party, Unang Sigaw Partido ng Pagbabago.


Mayor Mariano Cristino Joson, who lost to Umali in the 2007 gubernatorial race that ended his clan’s half-century reign at the Capitol, said he is prepared to join the governor’s camp from the Bagong Lakas ng Nueva Ecija.


Joson, a former vice governor and the husband of first district Rep. Josie Manuel-Joson, said the possibility of an Umali-Joson alliance is predicated on a scenario where none among the Josons will run for governor in 2013.


“If none of the Josons will seek the position of governor, I and my partymates am willing to join Governor Umali’s group,” he said.


While Umali and Mariano Cristino used to be bitter political rivals, the rivalry appears to have simmered down after the 2010 polls and they were even seen together giving out relief goods to flood victims of this town last month. They shook hands and posed for photographers. Their photos landed in the Internet and in newspapers.


This fueled speculations that a realignment of political forces is forthcoming with Umali and Joson forging a partnership.


Umali has beaten a Joson thrice in succession, the first in 2001 when he ran for congressman and defeated Joson’s nephew Edward Thomas. In 2007, he beat Mariano Cristino by landslide and last May, repeated over then-vice governor Edward Thomas in a duel for the governorship.


In 2004, Umali was set to challenge Edward Thomas’ father, then-governor Tomas Joson III in the latter’s reelection bid but he was prevailed upon to instead seek a second term as congressman by then-First Gentleman Miguel Arroyo and forged a tactical alliance with the Josons to support the reelection bid of then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.


Mariano Cristino is against the reported gubernatorial bid of a Balane stalwart, outgoing fourth district Rep. Rodolfo Antonino who is a close ally of Tomas III. He cited irreconcileable differences with Antonino.


Mariano Cristino has close ties with ex-Jaen mayor Antonio Esquivel, a bitter political foe of Antonino. Shortly before the 2007 polls, Antonino and Esquivel and their supporters figured in a shootout that led to the death of four persons and the wounding of 17 others, including two of Esquivel’s sons.


The incident, considered then as the bloodiest election-related violence, prompted the Commission on Elections to place the entire province under Comelec control. During the elections of that year, Antonino won a second term while Esquivel lost narrowly to the congressman’s ally, incumbent Mayor Santiago Austria.


Last May, Esquivel ran for congressman against Antonino but lost by landslide. (Jason de Asis)