295 bets running for 121 local posts
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Several last-hour surprises marked the last day of filing of Certificates of Candidacy (CoCs) at offices of the Commission on Elections, with the 295 candidates aspiring for the 121 local posts completing the cast for the 2019 local polls.

In the upcoming gubernatorial contest, what was expected to be a two-horse race between incumbent Governor Joseph “Boboy” Cua of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) and Congressman Cesar Sarmiento of the Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) has been joined by three other bets.

A frequent candidate, Fernando Chavez of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP), was joined by 2016 SP race loser Marlon Suplid of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) and former PBM Rene “Asay” Vega, a nominee of the Democratic Party of the Philippines (DPP) but the trio are not expected to figure in the top two for lack of resources.

Vice Governor Shirley Abundo (PFP), who was widely expected to be unopposed, found herself with two relatively unknown rivals – independent Emmanuel “Tawi” Rodulfo of Virac and Roderick “Wowie” Tapel of Bato (Nationalist People’s Coalition).

Rodulfo, a brother of a candidate for vice mayor of Bato, once ran and lost for director of the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, Inc. (FICELCO) in Virac. On the other hand, Tapel is close aide of former Vice Governor Jose “Bong” Teves Jr., who is gunning for a seat in Congress through the Talino at Galing ng Pilipino (TGP) partylist.

Observers say Teves could substitute for Tapel by the COMELEC deadline on Nov. 29, 2018 in case he changes his mind on the partylist bid.

There are already 185 partylist groups vying for a share of the votes to be cast next year, with TGP expected to battle locally with Ako Bikol and the Barangay Natin (BANAT) partylist of PBM Joseph Al-Randie Wong.

In contrast, the projected bets for the lone congressional seat took shape, featuring former Governor Hector Sanchez (Independent), former Congressman Joseph Santiago (NPC), Atty. Jorge Sarmiento (National Unity Party/Kusog Bikolandia), and former Governor Araceli Wong (Nacionalista Party).

Weeks earlier, PBM Wong had already announced his bid for Congress but a survey commissioned by the family among supporters apparently indicated a preference for his mother, who thrice ran unsuccessfully for the post in previous elections before her Capitol triumph in 2013.

The twin races for seats in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan will feature eight bets per district, with one vacant seat each following PBM Wong’s partylist decision and third-termer PBM Jose Romeo Francisco’s returning to Virac to run for councilor.

In the West district, incumbents Giovanni Balmadrid (NPC), Natalio Popa Jr. (PFP), and Rafael Zuniega (UNA) will be joined by former PBM Atty. Fred Gianan Jr. (PDP-Laban/KB), former PBM and Virac councilor Nel Asanza (UNA), Virac councilor Hermin Zafe (UNA), former Virac mayor Santos Zafe (PDP-Laban), and Tribune columnist Jex Lucero (Lakas-CMD).

In the East district, incumbents Lorenzo Templonuevo Jr. (NPC), Arnel Turado (NPC), and Vincent Villaluna (NPC) will battle it out with Panganiban’s third-termer Mayor Robert Fernandez (UNA), incumbent ex-officio and Philippine Councilors League (PCL) president Juan Velchez Jr. (UNA), former PBM Edwin Tanael (Independent), retired seaman Francisco Torres and businessman Cesar Vitalicio.

Municipal contests

BAGAMANOC - The only unopposed candidates in the municipal level are Mayor Remegio Villaluna and Vice Mayor Odilon Pascua, both of NPC. Like in 2016, there are 15 aspirants for seats in the Sangguniang Bayan, with six reelectionists and five neophytes. Only two of them are women and three are recently retired.

BARAS – Jose Paolo Teves III (NPC) seeks to duplicate the feat of his three-termer father in tangling with Mayor Chito Chi (UNA) and former Mayor Jorge Tanael (Ind.). Two councilors and a retired boxer challenges Vice Mayor Rico Tating (NPC). A much leaner, 23-person field is going for SB seats, 10 less than in the previous election, with four of them female. Four incumbents are in the mix along with two newcomers and seven old faces.

BATO – While the much-awaited nth match-up between Mayor Eulogio “Leo” Rodriguez (UNA) and former Mayor Juan Rodulfo (PDP-Laban) is a go, the formerly three-cornered fight for the vice mayorship has been reduced to a potentially tight contest between Vice Mayor Roy Regalado (PDP-Laban) and former Councilor Roberto Rodulfo (UNA). Councilor Joselito Alberto, who earlier filed his CoC for the post, spearheaded negotiations that led to the withdrawal of former Councilor Domingo Prensader and his dropping down to the municipal council along with Alberto. There are 23 SB candidates, two less than in 2016, with six reelectionists, four newcomers and 10 past candidates.

CARAMORAN – The town has the most number of candidates among the 11 municipalities with 30 aspirants, including four for mayor and three for vice mayor. Incumbent Agnes Popa faces two women – Vice Mayor Glenda Aguilar and realtor Ma. Luna Pelisco – as well as CE topnotcher Edwin Ogerio. The three-cornered vice mayoral battle is an all-female affair. There are 30 bets seeking SB seats, eight of them women. Eleven newcomers head the slate followed by five reelectionists.

GIGMOTO – It’s the veteran versus a newcomer as Mayor Armendo Guerrero (UNA) defends his post against recently resigned DILG-5 employee Vicente Tayam Jr. (PDP-Laban), with a third bet expected to pick up crumbs. The race for vice mayor between incumbent Jose Joson (UNA) and third-termer Councilor Edwin Tolledo (Ind.) will depend on clan votes. SB candidates have increased by seven to 18, with four reelectionists and 10 new filers.

PANDAN – Mayor Raul Tabirara (UNA) tries to fend off 2016 second-placer Jose Tidon (LP) and newcomer Honesto Tabligan II (PFP), while four bets will run for vice mayor, including incumbent Concordio delos Santos (PFP), former Mayor Resty de Quiros (Ind.) and Councilor Eric Rodriguez (UNA). Seventeen candidates, including five women, are running for SB seats, five more than in 2016. Six are reelectionists, nine are newcomers and seven are either incumbent or past barangay officials.

PANGANIBAN – Former Mayor Gregorio Angeles (PDP-Laban) has teamed up with his wedding godson and former political protégé, Vice Mayor Remelito Cabrera, who earlier wanted to run for mayor. He is up against former Councilor Cesar Robles (UNA) and retired principal Edgardo Morales. Councilor Melchor Velasco will try to wrest Cabrera’s post while 20 bets will run for SB seats, including four women and seven incumbents.

SAN ANDRES – Openly gay architect Jonathan Romano (PDP-Laban) and 2016 also-ran Abel Suarez are not given much of a chance against incumbent Mayor Peter “Boss Te” Cua (UNA), while the latter’s brother-in-law, former Mayor Atty. Leo Mendoza, seeks the SB’s top post against Allan Somido (Ind.) Only 24 bets have declared candidacies for SB membership, 10 less than in 2016. Six are reelectionists, with only one neophyte and three women.

SAN MIGUEL – It’s another Camano-Bernal shootout in the landlocked town, with Mayor Jun (PDP-Laban) up against former foe Edna (LP). Vice Mayor Alen Taule defends her post against three-termer Councilor Antonio Torrenueva. There are 24 people running for councilor, including three women and seven incumbents.

VIGA – Former Mayor Jose Torres will try to be relevant in the battle between Mayor Emeterio Tarin and Vice Mayor Jennifer Tuplano, while two graduating SB members – Cesar Cervantes and Domingo Villanueva - duke it out for the vice mayor’s seat. Nineteen aspirants will try to grab one of eight SB slots, with five of them incumbents.

VIRAC – With the four-cornered bout for mayor expected to between Mayor Sammy Laynes, ex-Mayor Cito Alberto and 2016 third-placer Posoy Sarmiento, it was Vice Mayor Arlynn Arcilla who was surprised by the last-hour entry of Councilor Amador Abichuela. Four incumbents will be joined in the SB sweepstakes by seven newcomers and nine comebacking politicians.


TEAM TAKOY. Mayor Raul Tabirara (in orange shirt), with his men at the Pandan municipal election office.
NEWCOMER. Honesto Tabligan II and his team will have to campaign hard in 2019 to win the votes of Pandananons.
LADY VICE MAYOR. Jennifer Tuplano and her team are out to challenge the dominance of Viga Mayor Bong Tarin.
Councilor Ding Abichuela
Arch. Jonathan Romano
ALL IN BLUE. Mayor Bong Tarin’s team are in high spirits at the Viga COMELEC officer after filing their CoCs.
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