CABANATUAN CITY -- Nueva Ecija Gov. Czarina D. Umali criticized third district Rep. Rosanna V. Vergara for blaming former governor Aurelio M. Umali for the spate of murders in the province, saying the lawmaker should pin the blame on her husband and the Josons for the violence that had erupted in this city and the province.
“Look who’s talking?” Umali said in reaction to Vergara’s claims that Aurelio, her husband also known as Oyie, must be held accountable for the murder spree in the province.
The lady governor was reacting to the lawmaker’s privilege speech in the House of Representatives wherein she cited 451 shooting incidents in the province since 2014.
Gov. Umali said Vergara was conveniently playing up with the numbers as of the 451 she mentioned, 59 of these murder incidents were committed in Cabanatuan, making it the province’s murder capital where the sitting mayor is her husband, Jay Vergara.
“The mayor in Cabanatuan City is Rosanna’s husband Jay, so if there is one person who must be accountable for the peace and order in that city, it should be Mayor Jay it being their backyard. So Rosanna should have discussed this thing first with her husband,” Umali said.
Umali, the first female governor of the province in history, also said Congresswoman Vergara was apparently speaking in the past tense -- some three decades ago -- when she mentioned in her speech the province’s once unsavory image as the “wild, wild west” of the Philippines, referring to past political killings.
The province earned the ignominious tag following over 100 politically-violent incidents such as the 1980 burning of the old Cabanatuan city hall, the 1990 ambush-slaying of former Cabanatuan vice mayor Eduardo Joson III and the 1995 gun-slaying of former Cabanatuan mayor Honorato Perez in Talavera town following an altercation with the Josons.
Umali said this image was present and Nueva Ecija was under a “reign of terror” when the Vergaras’ allies -- the Josons -- were ruling the province, adding the politically-motivated killings happened long before Aurelio became the governor in 2007 which ended the Josons’ 48-year Capitol rule.
She said that when her husband became governor, the province enjoyed a stable political climate and it was during his nine-year watch when high-profile killings of politicians ground to a halt.
“In fact, preserving the peace was one of Governor Oyie’s greatest legacies for which he was even named chairman of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) in Central Luzon during the term of former President Benigno Aquino III,” she said.
“So why should Congresswoman Vergara blame us for the killings which happened during the time of the Josons and the Cabanatuan killings that happened under Mayor Jay? She’s barking up the wrong tree,” she added.