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Southpaw

Gonzalo Duque, the RH law and Prisaa

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GONZALO T. Duque was bombast personified.

If there’s a worthy double to the late Sen. Leonardo Perez—the Mighty Mite of PH politics—it could be the diminutive Duque, a former vice governor of Pangasinan.

“Lingayen, go forth and multiply,” he thundered into the microphone during the opening rites of the Prisaa national games in the capital town last week.

His fair complexion blushed by the heat, the 61-year-old was all fired up to the chagrin of RH law backers at the Narciso Ramos Sports and Civic Center and probably to the discreet delight of the guest speaker, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas.

I mistakenly made Lingayen a city in a previous column. For his part, Duque, a lawyer and the national president of the Prisaa, spent his speech playfully tormenting Lingayen Mayor Ernesto Castaneda Jr. The prosperous town is a microcosm of first-class municipalities aching to become charter cities but fall below the population requisite of 150,000.

Pangasinan’s No. 2 official from 1987-1992, Duque hung up his political hat to become full time president of Dagupan’s Lyceum Northwestern University founded by his late father Francisco, secretary of health in the Diosdado Macapagal administration.

As Prisaa head, he served as host to the association’s 60th nationals at home in Lingayen and Dagupan.

The games were opened to the public; yet Lingayen and its residents that swell at daytime to an estimated 105,000 failed to show up in force at the spic and span Ramos complex—made available for free by the provincial government as  the major venue for the mostly collegiate meet.

I kidded Duque that with substandard athletes, there was no shock and awe in performances at the Prisaa, that it was probably more of aw schucks and uh-oh.

I sensed that he’s the kind of guy that if you fire a small caliber joke into him, he’d come back with something heavier and better. And his reply would be outright funny.

But he was not joking this time around.

Duque revealed the Prisaa has not conducted a national training program for athletes; the responsibility to prepare rigorously or not belongs to each of the 400 member schools.

He said to sharpen athletes at his 6,200-student Lyceum, he’d hook up with his home province’s sports academy, the nation’s first when it opens by mid-year.

A Prisaa source says trouble brews at the top, and that many member schools are restless because the association is controlled by a few led by an overstaying official.

***

Postscript:  Hours after we spoke Duque withdrew his school’s participation in the Prisaa, a move that’s tantamount to resigning as national president.

“I have no quarrel with officials of the other member schools,” Duque told me.


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