MANILA, Philippines - Incumbent government officials gunning for another term, former politicos gearing for another shot at public office and show biz personalities hoping to cross over into politics were among the political hopefuls who filed their certificates of candidacy (CoCs) at local offices of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Monday.
They included Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and Vice Mayor Francisco ?Isko Moreno? Domagoso who formalized their intention to seek reelection by filing their respective CoCs at the Comelec office in Intramuros.
Earlier, the two led city officials in a wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate the 146th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio at the Bonifacio Shrine near Manila City Hall.
Lim?s fiercest rivals for the mayoral post will be former Philippine National Police Chief Avelino ?Sonny? Razon and Environment Secretary Lito Atienza.
Razon filed his CoC on Friday while Atienza is expected to file his today, the deadline for the filing of CoCs.
As of yesterday, five candidates have already signified their intention to run for Manila mayor. Aside from Lim and Razon, there were two independent candidates?Onofre Abad and Ma. Teresita Hizon?and Matilde Limbre who is running under the Alpha Omega 9K party.
For the vice mayoral post, Domagoso?s rivals include Councilor Ma. Lourdes Bonjay-Isip, Atienza?s running mate; businessman Francisco Pizarra of Lapiang Manggagawa and Benjamin Riano Sr., Limbre?s running mate.
In Quezon City, actress and television personality Ara Mina became the latest celebrity hoping to get elected into public office when she submitted her CoC at the local Comelec office.
Mina, Hazel Reyes in real life, is running for councilor in the city?s second district as an independent candidate.
The 30-year-old actress told reporters that although some political parties had offered to adopt her as a guest candidate, she decided to run as an independent to avoid offending anyone because she had many friends who belonged to opposing parties.
Mina will be running against actor Alfred Vargas who filed his CoC last week.
?I will not force you to vote for me. I just want to help the youth who cannot seem to find their way,? she said.
Mina is one of the daughters of Chuck Mathay, a former congressman who represented the second district.
Meanwhile, there were at least two familiar surnames among the many who filed their CoCs for councilor at the Quezon City Comelec office.
They were Gian Carlo Sotto, son of former Dangerous Drugs Board Chair Vicente Sotto III, and Julian Coseteng, whose mother is former Sen. Nikki Coseteng. Both are running in the third district under the Liberal Party (LP).
Other LP candidates include Vice Mayor Herbert Bautista and Joy Belmonte-Alimurong, daughter of Mayor Feliciano ?Sonny? Belmonte Jr., who are expected to submit their CoCs today.
Bautista and Joy Belmonte are seeking the mayoral and vice mayoral posts, respectively, while her father is running for Congress in the second district.
Expected to run against Bautista is Rep. Annie Rosa Susano who recently joined the Nationalist People?s Coalition and Councilor Antonio Inton Jr.
In Muntinlupa City, the race for the mayoral post will be between the incumbent, Aldrin San Pedro and his predecessor, Jaime Fresnedi.
Fresnedi filed his CoC yesterday morning, accompanied by his running mate, Councilor Marissa Rongavilla and 16 candidates seeking a seat in the Muntinlupa City Council.
Fresnedi promptly fired a broadside at San Pedro when he reported that the city?s debts have ballooned to P2 billion despite an increase in revenue collection.
?I left Muntinlupa City in 2007 with only P159 million [worth of debts] but now it has gone up. What happened? How will [San Pedro] explain that?? he said in an interview with the Inquirer.
San Pedro, on the other hand, said it was common for a city to incur debts. ?This is obviously mudslinging. Four of my cases at the Ombudsman had been dismissed earlier due to lack of sufficient evidence,? he added.
The mayor said he would file his CoC today, with at least 20,000 of his supporters on hand to back him up.
In Rizal province, the fight for the gubernatorial post is expected to be heated with incumbent Gov. Casimiro Ynares III pitted against one of his fiercest critics, controversial Rodriguez Mayor Pedro Cuerpo.
Cuerpo, who submitted his CoC at the local Comelec, said the province deserves to have another choice as governor and that the Ynareses were not the only ones capable of leading the province.
Ynares also filed his CoC in the afternoon, hoping to secure a second term as governor. He said he was running under various parties, including the LP, Nacionalista Party and the Nationalist People?s Coalition.
Cuerpo, meanwhile, said he was running under the Aksyon Demokratiko and the Liberal Party.
The two have been at odds for a long time with Cuerpo alleging that his two-time suspension as Rodriguez mayor was the handiwork of the provincial government.
In Mandaluyong City, Mayor Benhur Abalos also submitted his CoC. He is seeking a second term under the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD party.
Meanwhile, lawyer Erwin ?Win? Genuino and former actress Jobelle Salvador were accompanied by a crowd of 200 of their supporters as Genuino filed his CoC for mayor at the Comelec office in Makati City.
Salvador, his running mate, was unable to submit her CoC due to a lack of requirements. She said she would do so today.
The 28-year-old Genuino, who was accompanied by his father, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. Chair Efraim Genuino, said they were the new faces who would bring about change in the city.
?This is what you can consider the moral force of Makati. We represent the people who don?t want to make do with an expensive cake or a P1,000 cash gift on their birthdays. We are the people who want to change Makati,? he said.
The tandem will run under Bigkis Pinoy, which is affiliated with the administration party Lakas-Kampi-CMD. The group also has a complete slate of political neophytes running for councilor.
The younger Genuino first ran in 2007 for a congressional seat in Makati?s second district but he lost to Abigail Binay, daughter of Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, who is running for vice president alongside former President Joseph Estrada.
This time, Erwin will be up against Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, who filed his CoC on Saturday, and possibly Councilor Junjun Binay, who is expected to submit his today.
On the other hand, the 43-year-old Salvador took everyone by surprise when she decided to enter politics after a long break from the entertainment industry.
She said she had always wanted to be a public servant like her father Leroy, who once served as city councilor.
Meanwhile, a journalist and a relative unknown in the political arena in Valenzuela City is set to go up against incumbent Valenzuela Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian who is gearing for a third term.
Pablo Hernandez, a columnist of the tabloid Bulgar, will be running as an independent.
On the other hand, Gatchalian is the candidate of the Nationalist People?s Coalition.
Hernandez had run previously for councilor in the city?s second district under LP but lost.
Despite the odds of running against Gatchalian?an incumbent official who has the backing of a strong political party?Hernandez told the Inquirer that he decided to run for Valenzuela mayor to give voters a choice.
?I am running against Gatcha-lian because he cannot be unopposed in the elections. It would look like he is a perfect mayor when he is not,? he said.