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NORTHERN LUZON RACES

Chavit Singson, Ilocos Sur political kingpin, wants to be Narvacan mayor

/ 05:00 AM October 18, 2018

Luis “Chavit” Singson —Grig C. Montegrande

NARVACAN, Ilocos Sur — Former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson is running for mayor in Narvacan town, where he serves as municipal councilor.

He filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) with his running mate, human rights lawyer, Pablito Sanidad, former president of the Free Legal Assistance Group, reviving a successful team-up they had in 1971.

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In that year, Singson won the gubernatorial race with Sanidad as his vice governor. Sanidad eventually fought the Marcos dictatorship.

To local pundits, however, the midterm elections will be a contest between Singson and his long-term rival, Edgardo Zaragoza, former mayor and head of the National Tobacco Administration.

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Zaragoza is running for mayor with his daughter, reelectionist Vice Mayor Fayinna Pilar Zaragoza-Delgado.

Political kingpin

Acknowledged as Ilocos Sur political kingpin, Singson had served as governor from 1971 to 1988 and from 1992 to 2010 but Narvacan had been controlled by the Zaragozas since 1988.

Singson’s son, reelectionist Gov. Ryan Luis Singson, is being challenged by Zaragoza’s son, Narvacan Mayor Zuriel Zaragoza. The young Zaragoza’s running mate is his sister, former Ilocos Sur board member Anicka Zaragoza.

In Baguio City, retired police general, Benjamin Magalong, filed his COC for mayor, saying an influential person convinced him to pursue the post.

Magalong led the police inquiry that concluded that former President Benigno Aquino III was equally responsible (along with former Philippine National Police chief, Alan Purisima) for the death of 44 police Special Action Force commandos during the operation to arrest suspected bomber Zulkifli bin Hir in Maguindanao province on Jan. 25, 2015.

In Nueva Ecija province, the son of slain General Tinio Mayor Ferdinand Bote filed his COC for mayor on Wednesday. Byron Joseph Bote, 33, said he used to dance and sing during his father’s political meetings but was now ready to continue his legacy.

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Bote was ambushed outside a government compound in Cabanatuan City on July 3. The police had arrested the gunmen and charged a contractor in connection with the killing.

“When my father pursued a career in politics, he faced the risks and dangers that profession brings so, as his son, I am also ready to face the same challenges,” said Byron, who will challenge the mayoral bid of former Mayor Isidro Pajarillaga.

Olongapo, Zambales races

In Olongapo City, Anne Marie Gordon, wife of former Olongapo Mayor James “Bong” Gordon Jr., filed her COC for mayor, and would run against reelectionist Mayor Rolen Paulino, who defeated her in 2013.

The Gordons’ political influence began in the 1960s when the family patriarch, James Sr., became the first mayor of the chartered city of Olongapo in 1966. His wife Amelia served as mayor from 1968 to 1972.

Gordon Jr. served as mayor from 2004 to 2013. In 2013, he ran as representative of Zambales’ first district but lost to former Subic Mayor Jeffrey Khonghun.

His older brother, Sen. Richard Gordon, served as Olongapo mayor from 1980 to 1986. He was mayor again from 1988 to 1993.

Paulino filed his COC while serving a six-month suspension imposed by the Ombudsman for a bidding error in leasing a city property to a shopping mall giant.

He stepped down on Sept. 3, along with Vice Mayor Aquilino Cortez Jr., eight incumbent councilors, a former councilor and other top city government officials. Cortez is also seeking a reelection.

In Zambales province, political clans will slug it out for the top elective positions. Reelectionist Gov. Amor Deloso is being challenged by former Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr.

Relectionist Vice Gov. Angel Magsaysay-Cheng will run against Jay Khonghun, the outgoing mayor of Subic town. Magsaysay-Cheng comes from the Magsaysay clan of Zambales.

Khonghun is the son of Zambales Rep. Jeffrey Khonghun, who is seeking reelection.

Mall owners

In Pangasinan province, former Transportation Undersecretary Thomas Orbos is seeking the first district congressional seat against Bolinao Mayor Arnold Celeste.

Orbos is one of four PDP-Laban candidates vying for congressional positions in the province, including reelectionist Representatives Rose Marie Arenas and Amado Espino Jr., and Bugallon Mayor Jumel Espino.

The Dagupan City mayoral race will again be a fight between two shopping mall owners.

On Tuesday, Mayor Belen Fernandez and Vice Mayor Brian Lim filed their candidacies for mayor. Fernandez’s family owns the CSI Group of Companies, which operates a chain of malls and supermarkets here and in northern Luzon, while Lim’s family owns the Magic Group of Companies, which also operates malls and supermarkets in Dagupan and in neighboring provinces.

This will be the first time for Lim to run for mayor while Fernandez is seeking her third term. Lim is running under the Nacionalista Party while Fernandez is running under the Lakas-CMD.

In 2013, Fernandez, who was then vice mayor, ran against Lim’s father, then Mayor Benjamin Lim. But on the eve of the elections, Lim’s father suffered a massive stroke. Fernandez won the mayoral race.

In 2016, Lim’s mother, Celia Lim, filed her COC for mayor. But two months before election day, she withdrew her candidacy “to take care of her sick husband.”

In the gubernatorial race, it will be a fight between Gov. Amado Espino III and Alaminos City Mayor Arthur Celeste.

In Abra province, reelectionist Gov. Maria Jocelyn Bernos is being challenged by Dolores Mayor Robert “JR” Seares Jr. of PDP-Laban. Bernos is running under the National Unity Party.

The reelection bid of Rep. Joseph Sto. Niño “JB” Bernos is being contested by a political newcomer, Deidrei Rose Luna-Ifurong, daughter of former Rep. Cecilia Luna, who served from 2007 to 2010. —Reports from Leoncio Balbin Jr., Kimberlie Quitasol, Armand Galang, Joanna Aglibot, Allan Macatuno, Gabriel Cardinoza and Valerie Damian

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TAGS: 2019 elections, Chavit Singson, Ilocos Sur elections, Luis Singson, Narvacan mayorlaty, Pablito Sanidad
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