Among local folks here, words are rife that Mikey might not opt to seek a third and last term and instead hand the turf to his mother.
What is afoot, as reports here go, is that Mikey might throw himself in the gubernatorial ring or settle as mayor of Guagua, the district’s business heartland.
The last is seen as a more viable option since neither Mikey nor his mother’s godson, Lubao Mayor Dennis Pineda, will not compete against each other for the governor’s seat, observers reckoned.
The province is abuzz with the President’s supposed congressional bid due to her frequent forays. She has visited Pampanga 14 times and 12 of those were in Sasmuan, Lubao, Guagua, Sta. Rita, Floridablanca and Porac towns.
Adonis Simpao, chair of the civil society group Kasaup, said reports of Mikey’s running as mayor have spread in the district in the last two weeks.
“That’s the report we have been getting but there have been no official word. Balita-balita yun,” said Simpao.
According to him, the mayoralty option is being talked about because Mikey reportedly bought the Coronel home beside the St. James Parish in Betis.
The two-story house is the ancestral home of Rosendo Coronel, the neighbors said. The Coronel clan has produced two priests.
It is one of the few standing old houses in Betis, an ancient riverside town that gave birth to what is now Guagua.
Standing on a 300-square meter lot that is lined with anahaw trees on one side of the garden, it carries features of early American era architecture and some Spanish elements.
A renovation undertaken a year ago gave the house a grand, well-preserved look. The windows are locked in steel grilles and the place is fully air-conditioned.
Two residents taking their break at the parish’s kiosk said the house has been sold. They identified the new owner variously as “Cojuangco,” “Pineda” and “Arroyo.”
When approached by this correspondent, the caretaker, a woman in her early 30s, said the house is now owned by businessman Paulo Hizon, a friend of Mikey.
The congressman has visited the place twice, the caretaker said.
Contacted by text message in the US, Hizon said the house belongs to his mother-in-law, Emerenciana Coronel Ocampo.
The title of the property is now in the names of Rico and Celestina Ocampo, this correspondent’s check on tax declaration certificates in the files of the municipal assessor’s office. Rico is a brother-in-law of Hizon.
A copy of the title obtained from the Registry of Deeds showed it to be in the name of the Ocampo couple.
Mariano Santiago, a friend of Mikey, denied that the solon bought the house.
“The price was only a token amount because Fr. Coronel wants the property to remain in the family. Mikey goes there because of Paulo and me. Nothing more,” said Santiago.
He said Mikey has maintained a house in Barangay San Roque Arbol in Lubao. Just a bungalow along the Jose Abad Santos Avenue (formerly the Gapan-San-Fernando-Olongapo Road), this house was built in 2002 when Mikey was vice governor.
Mikey, replying by text message from the US, said the house is not his but “one of his supporters.”
Interviewed on the eve of his 40th birthday last April, he said he “might retire or remain in politics.”
A check with the Commission on Elections showed that Mikey has not yet transferred his voter’s registration from Lubao to Guagua.
The President and Mikey cast their votes in Barangay San Nicolas I in Lubao, the birthplace of Ms Arroyo’s father, the late President Diosdado Macapagal.