Who Is Chito Castillo?

By Boy Guingguing
Sunday Post Publisher

 Like a dying patient being kept alive by all sorts  of life support systems in the Intensive Care Unit in the political hospital, the Bohol opposition is now ready to rumble. This means it has survived the ravages of a political disease afflicted by mice and men of the present administration.

 And meet the supposed cure in Chito Castillo, the revered stalwart who is being looked up to as father figure of the opposition. Some calls him simply as the tatay-tatay of any group opposed to the present crop of leaders dominating the political arena whether in Bohol or elsewhere. His opposition mantra: Restore political democracy to the electorate so the people are given the freedom to choose good and deserving leaders.

 It's a given that not all people subscribe to the idea of Castillo ruling the Bohol opposition. For all you know, Castillo to them is just another political opportunist whose agenda is to be recognized as  the fair-haired boy of  the  opposition party in Manila.

 We beg to disagree. As poster boy of the Bohol opposition, he's no damaged goods. He is still as fresh as any pretender to the opposition crown. As far as we know, Castillo was already a true-blue opposition when even before becoming one, was out of fashion.

 We remember in 1984 when being opposition was a dangerous past time because you would never know that you run the risk of irking the ire of the dictator. But Castillo along with lawyer Dan Lim and Venice Borja Agana fought with whatever meager resources they had  against the well-funded tutas of the late strongman. Of course, they lost badly in that polls but fighting Marcos in his heydays was enough for the three to experience some sort of an adrenalin rush.

 In fact, as Castillo told this Bglante, right after that misadventure in politics, he was emptied of whatever left of his savings that even grocery money was hard to come by.

 But knowing how to cultivate connections in the center of power, it was not for long that he wallowed in poverty.

 As fate would have it, he struck pay dirt in his transactions and from there until now, he is enjoying the blessings of his struggles to wiggle out of penury.

 No wonder during the last Loon fiesta, he made sure that the message was delivered loud and clear. That he is back in harness and is ready to help 'what little I have' in redeeming the lost glory of the opposition.

 The Loon shindig came like an opening salvo of what the opposition expects in the run up to the 2010 polls. Concentrating its political firepower in the first district, the Loon affair assembled all the purok leaders in the district.

 For the opposition group who was hibernating for long, the Loon gathering was off to a good start. The game plan really is to start in the first district and eventually whipped up an opposition leadership throughout Bohol. For Castillo and his coterie of loyalists, it will not be hard to strengthen the reach of its organization in the entire province.

 Just how effective the group's organization in the first district was manifested by the impressive showing of Board Member Yul Lopez, a Castillo nephew, when he ran for board member in the first district in 2007. Lopez surprised 2007 favorites for board members when he grabbed the top spot as an opposition bet. Now Lopez is contemplating of running for first district congressman.

 The third district is slowly going opposition if the results of the last elections were any barometer. Rene Relampagos, another Castillo protégé, made a respectable performance despite fighting the well-oiled political machine of the Jalas. He placed second in a field of four credible contenders. In a post-mortem analysis of the election results, if only Relampagos was careful enough not to be outsmarted by the machinations of his main rival, it would have been a different ball game altogether. Anyway, better luck next time.

 The main problem of the opposition is the second district. As of last glimpse of the election scenario in the district dominated by the Cajes dynasty, the drought of not having a credible opposition candidate is still taking a heavy toll. But who knows from out of the blue, there is someone packing a lot of wallop whether in financial, credibility, and bankability terms will challenge the dominance of whoever is the next second district congressman to be anointed by the dominant and ruling party.

 All told, it is now certain that there's no mistaking that the Bohol opposition has undergone a transformation of sorts. From a ragtag if not phantom band of cause-oriented leaders who only succeeded in giving credence to an otherwise one sided political exercise, to a vibrant and raring to go group ready to take on the role of Bohol opposition.