Ecleo daughter accepts mother defeated her

SAN JOSE, DINAGAT ISLANDS (MindaNews/17 May)–Geraldine “Jade” Ecleo, who lost to her reelectionist mother Glenda in the tightly contested gubernatorial race, will not contest the outcome of the elections although she was “shocked” by her loss.

“There will be no protest. I have to accept it because I know wala naman dayaan (there’s no cheating),”the younger Ecleo told MindaNews hours after the proclamation of her mother.

The mother beat the daughter by a slim margin of 625 votes.

“It’s the princess and the queen who competed, and the princess had lost. But that is okay, I am still a princess,” Ecleo said.

Ecleo, considered the more “charismatic” of the Ecleo siblings, would continue to support congresswomen-elect Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao, who defeated Gwendolyn Ecleo, the youngest of the Ecleo children with Glenda or “Mommy Glen.”

Baga-o and Geraldine Ecleo ran under the ruling Liberal Party.

“I will not leave her during the rest of her term. I will be her project coordinator for Dinagat,” Ecleo said.

She said she will also continue her programs under the Jade Ecleo Foundation, which provides scholarships for poor but deserving students in Dinagat Islands.

“I still have a lot of things to do for the Dinagatnons and my vision for them and the province will continue (while leading a civilian life), ” Ecleo said.

Strained family relationship

The crack in family relations started when Geraldine ran for vice governor in 2010 without the support of her family.

Allan I, the mayor of Basilisa in his speech during the miting de avance of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA), related that her sister also got hurt when the family decided not to support her bid for governor.

The PBMA, a sect founded by family patriarch Ruben Ecleo Sr. in 1965, was said to practice “bloc voting” during elections.

Allan I said he and Geraldine talked on the phone before the filing of candidacy to convince her to run for the congressional seat, which the latter refused.

Geraldine’s decision to run against her mother further caused the rift in the family.

She said her running against her mother was propelled by a “deep reason to spare her from the stress of work due to the latter’s health condition and age.

“Mommy Glen” underwent a triple heart by-pass operation a few years ago, Geraldine noted.

Geraldine insisted that she fought her mother in the gubernatorial race “to safeguard her.”

“How can a daughter allow her mother to go through this situation? I am only thinking of her condition,” she said.

“Now that she is still governor, she cannot go out and visit far flung areas because it will be difficult for her,” Geraldine noted.

But the daughter said she “was thankful that she did not win because I don’t think I can handle the thought that my mother will die if she will lose, which she will if I won. I don’t want to be the cause of my mother’s death.”

She said she will not be running again against her mother in future elections.

But if Gwendolyn will run, I will run against her, Geraldine, the incumbent vice governor, said.

No show

As early as Tuesday morning when canvassing resumed after being delayed for almost nine hours due to delayed transmission of results from the municipal level, talks of Geraldine conceding to her mother already spread at the halls of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan where the provincial canvassing was taking place.

As the official results were read and the crowd cheered when the elder Ecleo was proclaimed winner later in the afternoon, talks of Geraldine coming to the canvassing area still persisted.

Inside her house later in the night, Geraldine admitted she would have gone to the proclamation with her party mate Bag-ao but the presence of supporters flocking to her residence expressing their disappointment stopped her from going.

“I really wanted to cry while taking a shower but I couldn’t,” she said.

Facing reporters after the proclamation, a teary-eyed Bag-ao expressed gratitude for her victory and sadness to her party mates who lost, especially Geraldine.

Geraldine’s loss, however, did not change the fact that the Ecleos still rule the province, which is touted as a mystical island for its beautiful and scenic spots that are still largely untouched, except for the bonsai forest that is now bulldozed because of mining operations.

“It’s still the same, it is still Ecleo. The situation will not be changed because they still rule the place,” lawyer Victor Bernal said in an earlier interview.

Bernal was one of the lawyers who filed a protest against the creation of Dinagat Islands as a separate province of Surigao del Norte.

Dinagat Islands is considered one of the poorest provinces in the country.

During the campaign period, Geraldine criticized the PBMA leadership for making false hopes on people, especially for equating political governance to “divine providence.”

She also said that for several years that her mother and siblings have controlled Dinagat Islands as local chief executives, the province is still poor. (Vanessa Almeda/MindaNews)