Family business: Leyte Mayor Ong picks son as running mate in 2019

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CARIGARA, Leyte — Politics became a family affair in this town as its incumbent mayor picked his 22-year-old son, who has no experience in government, as his running mate in the 2019 polls.

In a press conference held at their residence here Wednesday, Eduardo Ong Jr., said he decided to seek the town’s second highest elective post after consulting with family members.

He is reportedly being groomed by his father, Eduardo Sr., to replace him in the mayoralty seat after the end of his much-anticipated third and last term in 2022. He is a nephew of incumbent Leyte 2nd District Rep. Henry Ong.

In 2016, his father and uncle successfully toppled the clan of Sergio Apostol, former lawmaker and cabinet official, who ruled the town for years and dominated the legislative district for decades.

“I believe that an apple does not fall far from the tree. Just because our family is in politics, it doesn’t mean that we are bad. Our heart is in the right place,” Ong Jr. told reporters.

The father-and-son tandem filed their Certificates of Candidacy on Monday, accompanied by family members, and hundreds of town and village officials clad in white shirts.

“I may not have the experience in local governance, but I really want to help and I am very willing to learn,” he said.

The young politician is largely counting on guidance from his father and uncle to woo more than 34,000 voters in Carigara, a second-class town in central Leyte. Carigara was the first municipality established in the Eastern Visayas region.

Ong Jr. is a fresh graduate of business management of the De La Salle University in Manila where he grew up. In the past two months, he’s been running a comedy bar with 10 workers in Metrowalk, a commercial hub in Pasig City.

Managing business runs in their blood. His father’s family owned Cherry Foodarama, which has been in the business since the early 1950s and is considered one of the pioneers in the grocery business. In 2015, SM Investments Corp. acquired the business.

His mother, Leny, owns two convenience stores in Metro Manila. (PNA)