CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Sen. Edgardo Angara has withdrawn from the gubernatorial race in Aurora and has been substituted by his younger brother, an official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) here said.
“It’s official. Mayor Arthur Angara of Baler has substituted for Senator Angara for governor,” Comelec supervisor Gilbert Almario told the Inquirer by phone on Thursday.
Mayor Angara, who is completing his third and final term, will challenge Gerardo Noveras, the incumbent Aurora vice governor. Senator Angara did not answer text messages inquiring as to why he opted not to run anymore as governor, a position held for the last time by his younger sister, Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo.
Another relative has confirmed Angara’s withdrawal.
Angara-Castillo is returning to Congress to run for the lone Aurora congressional seat to be vacated by Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, the senator’s son, who is running for senator under the administration’s Liberal Party.
No reason given
At the Senate, neither Senator Angara nor his staff would reveal the reason behind his sudden decision to withdraw from the Aurora gubernatorial race.
But as of late afternoon yesterday, speculations were rife in the Senate that the senator was worried about adverse feedback that could result from the recent protest march held by a group of Casiguran folk protesting alleged abuses by officials of the Aurora Pacific Ecozone and Freeport Authority (Apeco).
Earlier this month, Sen. Sergio Osmeña III presented in a news conference a handful of farmers from Casiguran who alleged that Apeco officials were arbitrarily taking their agricultural lands to extend the Apeco compound.
When Osmeña took the mic, he blamed Angara squarely for the situation, adding that Angara went ahead with the creation of Apeco through a law when it was clear that putting a freeport in Casiguran was not economically viable.
Osmeña also moved for the reduction of Apeco’s P353-million budget for 2013 to only P10 million, colleagues eventually overruled his initiative.
Angara himself could not be reached for comment.
His media officer Rikka Sotto confirmed his withdrawal in the Aurora gubernatorial race but said the senator was still in transit and could not make a comment.
Sotto said Angara made a personal appearance before the local office of the Comelec in Aurora as required by law in case of withdrawal from an electoral race.
In Pangasinan, Rep. Rachel Arenas (3rd District) withdrew her candidacy as a reelectionist on Thursday in favor of her mother, socialite Rosemarie “Baby” Arenas.
Marino Salas, Pangasinan election supervisor, said Arenas, a Liberal Party stalwart who is running unopposed, filed her affidavit of withdrawal of candidacy to allow her mother to apply as her substitute.
Salas said the lawmaker did not cite a reason for her withdrawal. He said election laws do not require candidates to justify their withdrawal from elections.
In a phone interview, Arenas said her mother had been asked to run for Congress. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon, Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon and Cathy Yamsuan