Congressman Serging Apostol. photo by
Congressman Serging Apostol. photo by

TACLOBAN CITY, (PNA) -– A veteran solon in this province is unfazed by new and old challengers as he formalized his re-election bid as representative of Leyte’s 2nd congressional district, a post controlled by their family for 15 years.

Rep. Sergio Apostol, 80, voiced optimism that he will win in next year’s polls through the support of 13 out of 14 mayors in central Leyte, who accompanied him when he filed his certificate of candidacy Thursday morning.

“There are always challengers in my district, but I don’t know them. I think there are three to four of them in 2016,” Apostol told reporters that mobbed him outside the provincial election office.

On Monday, businessman Henry Ong, a native of Carigara town, filed his COC as congressman against the Apostol patriarch with a campaign slogan of “Oras na Guimios” (it’s time to act).

“I believe that there is always an end to everything and everyone has the right to serve the public,” said Ong, whose family established the store chain Cherry Foodarama in Manila.

The neophyte politician, a brother of Carigara town Mayor Eduardo Ong, vowed to uplift the economic conditions of poor families in Leyte through sustainable projects.

But Apostol claimed that he has done a lot for the second district, which primarily include the concreting of 218 kilometers of primary highway and 455 kilometers of secondary roads.

“Our work now is road widening since we don’t have new roads to construct. I cannot stay stationary and I have to move forward,” the solon said.

Lawyer Alberto Hidalgo, who filed his CoC for 2nd district representative a few minutes before Apostol and his team showed up, said he expects to win against the veteran solon, banking on anti-corruption platform.

“I will tell people that I don’t want to buy votes because I have no intention to steal money,” said Hidalgo, who ran, but lost twice to the veteran solon.

Despite his age, the patriarch of one of Leyte’s oldest political clans, said he is physically capable of launching a campaign up to far flung villages.

“Ponce De Leon has discovered the fountain of youth through medicines. Aging is not anymore a problem because there is stem cell, but I have not gone through that treatment and I don’t need that,” said Apostol, eliciting laughter.

The Leyte solon, who is the current deputy speaker for the Visayas, was a congressman of the district from 1992 to 2001. He started his political career as town councilor of Barugo, Leyte in 1959 then became a member of the Leyte provincial board.

The Challenger- Businessman Henry "Dingdong"Ong
The Challenger- Businessman Henry “Dingdong”Ong.

From November 2005 until January 2007, he was the chairman of the Philippine National Oil Company-Energy Development Corp. (PNOC-EDC) and in 2006 he was appointed as Secretary to the Office of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel during the Arroyo administration.

His wife, Trinidad, a former vice governor and mayor, will run for board member. His daughter, Anlie, an incumbent board member, will run as mayor of Carigara town in the bid to regain the family’s control of central Leyte town. (PNA)