P’sinan not a ‘sleeping giant,’ says governor

- Eva Visperas () - May 4, 2004 - 12:00am
LINGAYEN, Pangasinan — This province, with more than 1.3 million voters, is not a "sleeping giant," said Gov. Victor Agbayani in response to what his detractors claim.

Agbayani told The STAR that he could not understand why former Sen. Leticia Ramos-Shahani often mentions in her interviews that Pangasinan is a "sleeping giant," imputing that the province has not seen progress.

"I wonder why she considers Pangasinan a sleeping giant after her many terms as senator and after her brother’s six years of a very successful presidency," Agbayani said.

He added: "I don’t understand why she says that but I think Pangasinan awakened during the time of FVR as the giant that it was." He was referring to former President Fidel Ramos, Shahani’s brother.

Agbayani also cited the efforts of Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr.

"She (Shahani) should perhaps put aside our political battle of 1998 and look around at the accomplishments of the Agbayani administration over the six years," he said. "Marami na rin tayong nagawa (We have done many things)." In 1998, Agbayani slugged it out with Shahani, garnering a lead of 101,000 votes over her. Ramos was the president then.

In his re-election in 2001, Agbayani was pitted against former second district Rep. Teddy Cruz, and the governor won by a margin of about 400,000 votes, obtaining about 75 percent of the provincial votes.

This time, Agbayani is in a one-on-one fight with Marietta Primicias-Goco, daughter of former Senate Majority Floor Leader Cipriano Primicias, of Alcala town.

Goco was a co-convenor of the Social Reform Council under the Ramos administration, chairman of the Presidential Commission to Fight Poverty and the national director of Ramos’ Moral Recovery Program. Agbayani admitted that his toughest battle was against Shahani in 1998.

Shahani is backing the candidacy of Goco. She goes on air over dzSD Super Radyo Dagupan three times a week via a 15-minute paid interview program, promoting the local and national candidates of the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) and often mentioning that Pangasinan is a "sleeping giant."

Goco’s brother, former governor Tito Primicias, also mentions this in his interviews, even describing Agbayani as a "part-time governor."

Agbayani has refused to directly refute Primicias’ tag of him. "It’s democracy but as I always say even at the height of political fights, we always strive to maintain decency and civility toward our opponents pero kanya-kanyang style naman yan eh (but everyone has his own style)," he said.

Besides the governor, two other Agbayanis are running for local posts: his elder brother Louie, outgoing mayor of Sual town, for first district congressman; and youngest sibling, sister Viktoria, for Sual mayor.

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