The sister-in-law of former president and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was the first congressional candidate of Negros Occidental to be proclaimed winner of Monday’s polls, at the Capitol in Bacolod City yesterday.
Ma. Lourdes Arroyo Lesaca (Lakas CMD), who ran unopposed and won with 105,227 votes, will be representing the fifth district of Negros Occidental where her younger brother, the late Ignacio Arroyo Jr., served as congressman.
Shortly after Lesaca, the Provincial Board of Canvassers also proclaimed the winning board members of the fourth district –Agustin Ernesto Bascon (NPC) who won with 86,033 votes and Rita Gatuslao (UNegA) who garnered 70,538 votes.
Lesaca, who was on a wheelchair when she was proclaimed, said she slipped in August and broke the femur in her right thigh. However, her doctor has assured that by June she will not need the wheelchair anymore, she said.
“Diri na ako ma estar, relax lang kamo basi mag ano na kamo sa akon kay ari naman si Inday, basi ma tak-an na kamo sa akon (I will live here, relax, you might get tired of me)”, Arroyo said when asked if she will be visiting her district then.
She said the house speaker’s advice to her is “to hit the ground running”.
“I want to excite the people of the fifth district by improving health services, education, and infrastructure for their livelihood. It is now time to go to work and deliver to the people,” she said.
She called on officials of the fifth district, which was rocked by violent incidents, to forget politics with the elections over. “I’m calling for unity and peace” to bring progress to the 5th district, she said, citing its tourism industry potential.
Lesaca, who served as representative of the Kasangga Partylist in the 14th Congress, said “I am grateful for this rare opportunity to run for our district’s congressional seat without any opposing candidate. However, I believe the real opposition, which applies for all the people of the fifth district, are poverty and underdevelopment.”
Gatuslao, an optometrist with an 18-year background in health management, assured that she will live up to the Gatuslao legacy of serving the people with dignity.
She will give priority to health and sanitation, education through scholarships, and the environment in her district as board member, Gatuslao added.
She is the daughter of former assemblyman Tony Gatuslao and the sister of outgoing board member Alain Gatuslao, whose forefathers were also political leaders of the province.
Gatuslao said it was difficult to say no when she was asked by her family to run for board member “because service is innate and inherent to all of us.”
Bascon and Gatuslao, who are cousins, downplayed a family rift saying with politics over, they will focus on work for their district.
Bascon arrived at the Capitol Social Hall to be proclaimed after Gatuslao left.
“Elections are over, we have to move on and serve people with a smile, integrity and honesty”, he said.
As board member he will focus on health, education, sports and livelihood needs in the fifth district, he said.
As to mending the family rift, Bascon said only time and God will know if it can heal, if you believe in God, nothing is impossible.*
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