Party-list rep wins House seat against Ecleo in Dinagat

DINAGAT ISLANDS (MindaNews/14 May) – The Ecleo dynasty in the Province of Dinagat Islands is losing its grip with Akbayan party-list Rep. Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao elected as the new representative of the lone district of the Province of Dinagat Islands to the House of Representatives.

Bag-ao of the Liberal Party got 25,615 votes against the Nacionalista Party’s Gwendolyn Ecleo’s 22,369 votes or a lead by 3,246 votes.

Bag-ao was appointed “caretaker” representative of Dinagat by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte in October last year after the elected congressman, Ruben Ecleo, Jr. was expelled by the House for a murder conviction.

Gwendolyn (NP) is the youngest daughter of Ruben Ecleo, Sr.., founder of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association, and Dinagat Governor Glenda “Mommy Glen” Ecleo (NP) who almost lost her reelection bid to another daughter, Geraldine, who ran under the Liberal Party.

“Mommy Glen” won by a margin of only 625 votes. She won 23,385 votes against Geraldine’s 22,760.

At 3:40 p.m., supporters cheered as the reelected governor arrived at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan hall for the proclamation, followed by her son Benglen, provincial administrator and newly-elected vice governor.

“The sun shines bright in Dinagat Island because Kaka is the epitome of principled and truly capable public service,” said Patricia Sarenas, chair of the Mindanao Coalition of Development Network.

Kaloy Manlupig, chair of Balay Mindanaw, congratulated Bag-ao for “finally winning the opportunity to realize her dreams for her island. We hope she does not start another dynasty which has characterized the island for many years.”

Lawyer Mary Ann Arnado, secretary-general of the Mindanao Peoples’ Caucus, said “Congress needs and brilliant, hardworking and highly committed lawyer like Bag-ao. Her victory is a resounding affirmation of the saying that you cannot put a good man and in this case, a great woman down. Her place is way, way up the glass ceiling in Congress. Her stint as Akbayan representative may be short-lived but God showed her to a much bigger plan.” (Vanesa Almeda/MindaNews)