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Battle lines drawn in Guimaras politics

By Pet Melliza


The island of mango plantations looks serene. But unknown to many, battle lines not only within an alliance, but within the family itself,  are already drawn this early in Guimaras, a province across Iloilo with population of roughly 150,000.

The divide emerged even before the dust whipped up by the May 2010 elections could settle down. It is not the whiff of the sweet mango that fills the air today but only the looming and bitter intra-family feud.

On one hand is Rep. Rahman Nava and on the other, his younger sibling Felipe Nava the governor. The loyalties of the mayors of the island’s five towns and the members of the Sanggunian Panlalawigan revolves around these two political titans.

Rahman and Felipe, both physicians and products of the West Visayas State University – College of Medicine, have no quarrel with each other, political or otherwise, but it looks like their schism needs a miracle to heal.

SP Vicente De Asis, in his third and final term, admits that a head-on collision is inevitable in 2013 between the two Navas. Asis is close to both but is constrained to align himself with the elder Nava who plans, if nobody cares to clash with Felipe in 2013, to cut short his congressional stint if only to unseat his younger brother from the province’s top post.

With that, Rahman’s line up for 2013 of candidates for congress, province and municipalities is “almost complete”, says De Asis who now primes himself as vice gubernatorial timber since the law prohibits him to run for re-election after three straight terms.

Rahman has nothing personal against his younger sibling. He is just miffed with the way the latter has allowed his wife to throw her weight around dictating her terms in public biddings for contracts, narrates De Asis.

The Navas were a solid family when Dr. Catalino Nava was governor of Guimaras.  It became as solid still when Catalino ran for Congress and Emily Lopez became its governor.

It became more solid in 1998, after their father Catalinno passed away, when Rahman ran for governor and succeeded in ending the monolithic rule of the Lopezes. The entire clan rallied behind him who was waging a Quixotic fight against Alberto Lopez, husband of Emily and son of Fernando Lopez who was once vice president of the Philippines.

We don’t know the spouses of the two quarreling brothers but yours truly tend to believe more the narration of SP De Asis that throughout the three straight terms of Rahman as governor, his wife stayed away from provincial affairs.

That is not the case now for Felipe, the incumbent governor. “Congressman Nava is disappointed because Gov. (Felipe) Nava keeps on ignoring party consensus and follows blindly the dictates of his wife,” rues De Asis.

Popular sentiment disfavors a Nava-Nava clash. People prefer Rep. Rahman Nava staying put in congress while his younger brother runs for re-election as governor. In that win-win scenario, it’s their followers who are in for a tough fight, for the positions ranging from vice governor down to municipal councilor.

The elder Nava though dislikes any win-win solution that falls short of evicting his sibling from the provincial capitol. He rages as he continues seeing Guimaras Province being de facto ruled by Felipe’s wife.

For his alignment with Rep. Nava, De Asis’s privilege of recommending projects and services to his constituents has been cut off. He no longer enjoys the discretion of having a say on the delivery of services which is some sort of pork barrel only that project implementation, not the fund, is involved here.*


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