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War of the Refols and other interfamily rivalries

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:04:00 05/09/2010

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Elections, Politics, Inquirer Politics

ILOILO CITY?SOME INTEResting family feuds are spilling over into the political arena on Panay Island this election: Husband against wife, brother against brother.

In Aklan, many eyes are on Altavas, one of the province?s 17 towns with around 14,000 voters, where the contest is between reelectionist Mayor Kathyryne Bulacan-Refol and her estranged husband, former Mayor Denny ?Bulldog? Refol.

Kathyryne, a physician, is seeking a second term under the Liberal Party while Denny is running under the Lapiang Manggagawa. Two other candidates?Rosemay Mayor of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino and Laarni Ampuan, an independent candidate?are also running for the post.

This is the first time in the province?s history that spouses are running against each other.

The Refols have been the dominant political family in Altavas since the 1950s when the patriarch Julio Refol Sr. became mayor and was undefeated for 26 years. When he retired, he was replaced by his daughter-in-law Maria May Refol, who served three terms.

Denny served as mayor from 1998 until 2007 when Kathyryne ran for his seat.

But the couple had marital problems which apparently worsened after Kathyryne became mayor.

?It is sad, especially for our family that it has come to this. But maybe this is our destiny,? Kathyryne said.

She said efforts were made by family members and party leaders to avoid the electoral confrontation but both spouses decided to run.

Kathyryne said she gave up her post as chief of the Altavas Hospital in 2007 because no other family member would run for mayor. She stressed that there was no agreement between her and her estranged husband that she would only serve one term.

?I gave up something very important to me, my profession, to be in politics,? she said.

She admitted that the loyalties of their family members and supporters have been divided because both of them are running.

?As of now, I do not see any reconciliation with my ex-husband after the elections. I will abide by God?s plan for us,?
she said.

Sibling rivalry in Antique

Other local contests are also marked by intense intra-family political rivalries in Iloilo.

In Tibiao town in Antique, 75 kilometers north of the capital town of San Jose, sibling rivalry has found political dimensions.

Brothers Walden Lim (Lakas-Kampi-CMD) and Joel Lim (Kilusang Bagong Lipunan) are both gunning for the mayoral post. Two other candidates are Gil Bandoja (Nationalist People?s Coalition) and outgoing Vice Mayor Geronimo Flores Jr. (Nacionalista Party).

Three generations of Lims have served as town mayors.

Their grandmother was town mayor from 1951 to 1956. An elder brother Manuel Jr. occupied the post from 1980 to 1986 while their father Manuel Sr. was mayor in 1989-1998.

Walden, 44, the 11th of 12 siblings, was vice mayor from 2001 to 2004. He ran for mayor in 2007 but lost to incumbent Mayor Sotera Tamayo. He protested the results of the election and was proclaimed winner by the Antique Regional Trial Court. But the case was appealed by Tamayo and remains unresolved.

Joel, 52, the sixth of the Lim siblings, is married to a daughter of Tamayo and agreed to run for mayor to replace his mother-in-law who is running for vice mayor.
Disqualification case
?We tried to resolve our differences within the family but Joel would not listen to us,? Walden said.

Walden tried to block Joel?s candidacy by filing a disqualification case against him, saying his brother had been living in the United States for the past 16 years. But the case was dismissed by the Commission on Elections.

Joel, on the other hand, said their running against each other was a matter of differences in views and principles. ?He (Walden) would not step aside, even though I am older than him.?

?Family is family but politics is politics,? Joel said.

Cousin vs cousin

In the province?s fifth congressional district, it?s cousin versus cousin.

Incumbent Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. (LP) is seeking reelection against two candidates?including his cousin, incumbent Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico (Nacionalista Party).

Suplico who served as representative of the district from 1998 to 2007 has been a consistent critic of the administration of his uncle, outgoing Iloilo Gov. Niel Tupas Sr., the congressman?s father. Suplico?s brother Enrique ran but lost to Niel Jr. in the 2007 elections.

Representative Tupas? younger brother, Niel Tupas III (LP), is running against his first cousin Felix Sedney Tupas (Lakas-Kampi-CMD) for mayor of Barotac Viejo town.

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