Ralph Recto for Batangas governor in 2016?

By Arnell Ozaeta, ABS-CBN News Southern Tagalog

Posted at Jun 14 2015 12:45 AM | Updated as of Jun 14 2015 09:48 AM

BATANGAS - Political observers in the province are now in a quandary after banners expressing support for Senator Ralph Recto's possible gubernatorial bid sprouted in the province.

Banners bearing the message ''Join us and support Ralph Recto for governor movement (#RalphRectoForGovernor2016)'' are now displayed in front of some municipal buildings around the province.

Senator Recto's wife, Governor Vilma Santos-Recto, is now on her last term, making the position open for aspiring new governors in 2016.

Among those who have openly expressed their intention to run for the position are Vice Governor Marc Leviste, former Governor Hermilando ''Dodo'' Mandanas, AGAP party-list Rep. Nicanor Briones' and Batangas 4th District Rep. Mark Llandro Mendoza.

Recto told ABS-CBN News that he is not aware of the posters, saying ''I’m not interested. Will support a candidate. Will run for reelection.''

A few months earlier, Leviste expressed confidence that he will be endorsed by the Recto couple as the next Batangas governor.

Leviste belongs to the same political party as the Rectos. He ran as Vilma's vice-governor in the last elections.

Recto's move to run for governor would definitely hinder Leviste's aspiration of becoming the next provincial head.

When asked about the movement pushing for Ralph Recto's candidacy, Leviste said he has not seen the banners for himself and he does not want to speculate.

''My decision to support Senator Ralph Recto remains whether he runs for reelection as Senator or decides to run for Governor, but for as long as the Senator doesn't tell me directly and personally, I will continue to focus in actively and seriously exploring the possibility of running for Governor of the province of Batangas in 2016,'' he said.

Other candidates, however, were unfazed by the developments.

''Tuloy ako for Governor ulit ng Batangas,'' said Mandanas.

For Briones, ''Governor ang siguradong takbo natin. Sinabi ni Sen. Ralph Recto na Senador siya at hindi Governor, iyan ang sabi sa akin two times.''

Jing Seguismundo, public information officer of Batangas province, likewise denied any knowledge of the Ralph Recto for governor movement.

''Hindi nga namin alam kung sino ang naglagay ng mga tarpaulin na iyon. Hanggang ngayon nga hinahanap pa namin pero hindi namin sila ma-identify,'' Seguismundo said.