Cebu Gov. Gwen Gracia faces off with former tourism secretary Ace Durano for Cebu’s top post in next year’s election.

Two members of Cebu province’s political dynasties will once again face off in the coming 2022 elections for the province’s top post.

Former Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for Governor Thursday with running mate, re-electionist Vice-Gov. Hilario Davide III.

Durano only declared his gubernatorial bid early this month after a series of consultative meetings with various sectoral groups in the province. 

Durano said he came out of retirement to be a “voice” of the public who are “unsatisfied” with the pandemic response of the provincial government. 

“Hospitals (in Cebu) are neglected!” he said. “That is why Cebu has one of the highest Covid-19 mortalities.” 

The former cabinet secretary, who hails from the oldest political clan of the Duranos in Northern Cebu, ran under the Partido Pilipino sa Pagbabago (PPP), one of the coalition groups, lobbying for Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte to run for the presidency. 

Vice-Gov. Davide of the Liberal Party supports the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo, who is running as an independent. 

Garcia, for her part, is set to file her COC on Friday together with her unknown running mate. The lady governor said Ace is another “formidable opponent” she is honored to face. 

If Durano has his family influence up north, Garcia has her allies under her One Cebu party throughout the province. 

So far, her longtime ally, the Gullas of the first district (south), another political clan, has expressed their support for Garcia, along with Fourth District Rep. Janice Salimbangon (north), Seventh District Rep. Peter John Calderon, a relative of the Duranos (southwest), Third District Rep. Pablo John Garcia (west), the brother of Gwen, and Fifth District Rep. Duke Frasco (north), her son-in-law. 

The Duranos lost control of their political bailiwick in the fifth district when Frasco won against former Rep. Red Durano in 2019, breaking decades of the Duranos rule which started in the 1980s.

In 2012, Garcia was suspended by the Office of the President for six months for grave abuse of authority for allegedly diverting provincial funds to anomalous contracts.  In 2018, she and other officials were charged  for the acquisition of the Balili property in 2008.  She was acquitted in 2020.  – Ryan Sorote