OFF THEY GO

Full-blown campaigns take off with Easter Sunday for 1,280 local bets

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The race for local and congressional candidates kicks off in earnest on Easter Sunday today with voters in Cebu province offered a choice of over 1,280 local candidates.

The start of the 45-day campaign period fell on March 29 but since campaigning is prohibited on Good Friday, and tradition frowns on noise on Black Saturday, the fanfare of  full-blown promotion can get off to a vigorous start.

“Observe campaign rules”.

“Be fair even to your enemies. A candidate who plays dirty has no right to be elected,” said Ferdinand Gujilde, Cebu provincial election supervisor to poll aspirants in a text to CEBU DAILY NEWS.

Celebrating with a Mass and political rally is common element in the opening salvo of major parties.

An early start will be made in bright orange by second-time aspirant, businessman Glenn Anthony Soco, who is running for vice governor under  the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) of Joseph Estrada.

Soco will start with a 5:30a.m. Mass today at the St. Joseph National Shrine and march with followers to the new public market for a short program and a motorcade around the city will follow.

Soco, a resident of Mandaue City, vied for the same post in the 2010 election but lost to Gregorio Sanchez Jr. of the Liberal Party, including an election protest that dragged till last year.

Tomorrow, April 1, was chosen as the kick off  date with yellow campaign colors for the Liberal Party-Cebu and green for Team Rama headed by reelectionist Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and yellow and blue for Band Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK).

Rama’s marching order, according to a party source, was “no hakot” for supporters who will rally at Plaza Independencia as a genuine show of force after a 7 a.m. Mass at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.

But Rama said he will announce final plans in a press conference today.

His main challenger, Rep. Tomas Osmeña, is exploring other dates for a rally.

On Monday, there will be a 7 a.m. Mass for the BO-PK lineup at the Pedro Calungsod Chapel at SM Seaside City but “no speeches”.

Osmeña told CDN he was coordinating with LP headquarters in Manila for a simultaneous three-barangay rally, one night each for the north and south district to reduce walking distance for people, preferably on a Friday or Saturday.

“If they want maximum exposure for the LP senatorial candidates,” that would be the ideal setup, he said.

“If not, we will forego rallies except for the final grand thank you rally, BO-PK’s version of a miting de avance.”

“We are quite satisfied with out pulong-pulong and other barangay-based activities,” Osmeña added.

The Garcia-led One Cebu Party, with green campaign colors, will start next week yet on April 6, Saturday from the 1st district.

Gubernatorial bet  Rep. Pablo John Garcia said they are still shaping up a schedule with other districts. His sister, suspended Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, aims to fill his seat in the 3rd district.

Their main challenger, the LP-Cebu, has Hilario “Junjun” Davide III, making his second attempt at the governorship.

Davide, a lawyer, will attend a 7 a.m. Mass with his running mate  acting Gov. Agnes Magpale as vice gubernatorial bet, at St. Joseph’s National Shrine in Mandaue City.

President Aquino’s party will lead a  four-day caravan through northeastern towns and cities on the first day, winding down at Bogo City in Cebu’s 4th district where they will spend the night.

The next days will head to Daanbantayan twon in the 4th district and make a “round north” to midwest Pinamungajan town  in the 3rd district

On day three, the group will go to Santander  town in the 2nd district, passing through Aloguinsan town in the 3rd district.  On day four, the LP will head to Oslob town, pass through the 2nd district and end in Talisay  City of the 1st district for a rally there.

‘VOTE-RICH’ PROVINCE

Comelec Region 7 records show that Cebu has a total of 2,509,520, voters, making it the most vote-rich province in the country.

The figure includes highly urbanized cities of Cebu City and  Lapu-Lapu-Lapu.

Almost 100,000 voters were added during last year’s registration, on top of the last recorded voting population of 2.4 million in the 2010 local and presidential election.

Cebu has more than half of Central Visayas’ total registered voters of 4,114,061, an increase of three percent  from the last election.

About 50 to 60 percent of Cebu’s  4 million to 5 million population are registered voters.

Based on the records of Comelec 7, Bohol has 775,785 voters. Negros Oriental has 763,938, while Siquijor has 64,818, the province with the least voting population.

Comelec 7 will add 100 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines in Cebu for to be used for the elections since the clustered precincts were increased.

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