Tarlac puzzle: Loss of Aquino candidatesBy Jo Martinez-Clemente
Inquirer Central Luzon
TARLAC CITY—Even to this day, many Tarlaqueños are wondering why President Aquino did not go all-out for his candidates in his home province the way he did for his senatorial candidates in Team PNoy.
While his senatorial ticket did well in Tarlac, all his candidates in local races lost.
After postponing the proclamation rally of senatorial and local candidates of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and the Liberal Party (LP) at the Maria Cristina Park here on March 14, the President proceeded with the event a week before the May 13 polls in Victoria, one of the smallest towns of the province with about 30,000 registered voters.
Despite the much ballyhooed NPC-LP partnership, only LP candidates in the second and third districts of Tarlac were invited to the Victoria rally.
Here Aquino dangled projects to woo votes for his mayoral candidate Rex Villa Agustin and at the same time chided Mayor Candido Guiam III of NPC and his family for what he said was slow development in Victoria and for snubbing him when he was their representative.
Former Gov. Candido Guiam Sr. says he does not understand why the President seems to dislike them.
The older Guiam was an ally of the President’s parents. When Aquino’s father, Benigno Jr., was Tarlac governor, he picked the elder Guiam as candidate for Victoria mayor. When the President’s mother, Corazon, became president, she appointed Guiam as acting governor.
The tightly contested mayoral race in Victoria yielded a 51.4-percent vote in favor of the incumbent Guiam against Villa Agustin’s 48.6 percent.
Aquino’s endorsement of his Tarlac mayoral candidate in Victoria did not seem to augur well with the city’s 200,000 voters.
In this city, LP candidate Genaro Mendoza lost to incumbent Mayor Gelacio Manalang. Despite various charges against Manalang in the Office of the Ombudsman, he won handily, getting 43.25 percent of the vote against Mendoza’s 30.19 percent.
In Concepcion town, the same thing happened. Nacionalista Party mayoral candidate Andy Lacson won with a vote of 62.12 percent, while LP candidate Jay Castro got 34.53 percent of the town’s more than 50,000 votes.
Aquino also endorsed the congressional bid of his uncle, former Rep. Hermie Aquino. He also told the Victoria people the other candidate is also a relative. Aquino was referring to reelectionist Rep. Jeci Aquino Lapus.
But the third district of Tarlac elected a non-Aquino. Outgoing Concepcion Mayor Noel Villanueva of the NP beat Lapus and Aquino by getting 56.51 percent of more than 120,000 votes.