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Long-entrenched local pols fire Day One campaign salvos

CONJUGAL HOPES Former Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and wife Lani, the outgoing Taguig City mayor (third and sixth from left), with supporters of their campaign for House seats in separate districts in Taguig and Pateros. —DEXTER CABALZA

Day One of the campaign period for the local elections in Metro Manila saw the loudest salvos coming from long-entrenched power clans.

In Quezon City, Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte, who’s now aiming for the mayoralty, kicked off her stumping with a call to make the next 45 days “free of fake news, black propaganda, mudslinging, and lies.”

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“I know this is wishful thinking, but miracles do happen, especially when God’s righteous love prevails,” Belmonte said in a statement on Friday. The daughter of a former Speaker and city mayor, Belmonte leads a local party affiliated with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago.

Up against nine rivals, she faces the strongest challenge from Rep. Bingbong Crisologo and former Rep. Chuck Mathay III.

Family affair

In an Inquirer interview early this week, Crisologo, the official candidate of President Duterte’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, said he was banking on voters already “fed up” with the Belmontes being City Hall fixtures over the last 18 years.

Belmonte’s running mate, Councilor Gian Sotto, is the son of Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

In Taguig, the Cayetanos launched their campaign with an interfaith rally at Barangay New Lower Bicutan, with mayoral candidate Lino Cayetano leading a prayer before a gathering of Christian and Muslim supporters.

Three other members of the family are running in the May 13 polls: Lino’s sister Pia wants to return to the Senate, while his brother Alan Peter seeks another turn as a House member after serving as Duterte’s foreign secretary.

Alan Peter’s wife Lani, the outgoing mayor, is also aiming for a House seat.

Pending against the couple is a disqualification case filed last year by Taguig resident Leonides Buac Jr., who accused the spouses of “deliberately and deceptively” claiming that they live separately so they could run for Congress to represent the two districts of Taguig and the neighboring municipality of Pateros.

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In his certificate of candidacy, Alan Peter stated his address as Paso Street, Barangay Bagumbayan, in the first district. Lani said she lived at Two Serendra condominium, Barangay Fort Bonifacio, in the second district.

The same condo unit was also the listed address of Pia and Lino in past elections.

Unlike in the 2016 contest when the city’s top posts were uncontested, Team Cayetano is battling it out with the ticket led by Arnel Cerafica, a congressman now running against Lino.

At Friday’s rally, Alan Peter dismissed criticism that the Cayetanos had become the new political dynasty in Taguig after defeating the Tiñgas in 2010. “There is no political dynasty in the Philippines because we have free and open elections,” he said. “You cannot have democracy and then keep saying there are political dynasties.”

“Right now we are still coming to the people for them to choose us as their leaders. What is important is that there [are] fair and open elections,” said Alan Peter, whom supporters cheered as “the next Speaker.”

Lani, who served as mayor for nine straight years, took a swipe at their opponents who “only got interested in Taguig when it was already earning praise.” She was alluding to the years when the city’s economy got a big boost with the rise of commercial districts like Bonifacio Global City and Arca South, and the opening of C-6 Road.

Pick between 2 Binays

In Makati, the closely watched sibling rivalry for the mayoralty between Abby and Junjun Binay went into high gear, with the sister firing the first shots.

“It is very unfortunate that we are up against each other,” Abby, the incumbent mayor, said in an interview hours before her proclamation rally. “It is something [that was] very, very avoidable but he chose to challenge me.”

She conceded that Makati voters would have “a hard time choosing” between two Binays, but that they should just forget that she and her opponent (who was the former city mayor) shared the same surname and “just look at what he has done and what I have done.”

The Binays—starting with the patriarch, Jejomar, the former Vice President—have governed Makati since the late 1980s.

In Manila, mayoral candidate Isko Moreno officially started courting voters by holding a motorcade, after hearing a 6 a.m. Mass at Tondo’s Sto. Niño Church.

Debate no-shows

A former vice mayor who served for about three months as social welfare undersecretary, Moreno, together with running mate Honey Lacuña, later proceeded to the University of the Philippines-Manila for a debate with his two main opponents—former Mayor Alfredo Lim and incumbent Mayor Joseph Estrada.

Lim, 89, and Estrada, 81, did not show up for the debate.

According to Lim’s chief of staff, Ric de Guzman, the former mayor instead opted to hold a dialogue with senior citizens, after which he attended his son’s graduation.

Lim is offering himself without any running mate and with only a few councilors publicly backing him. “Our financial situation is tight. We don’t have anything to give away,” De Guzman said.

But this doesn’t worry Lim, his aide said, “because the people already know what he has done for the city.”

At his proclamation rally in Ermita last night, Estrada announced that the Manila Bay reclamation projects he had pushed were already approved by Duterte and that these developments would open a new chapter of prosperity for the city.

See the bigger picture with the Inquirer's live in-depth coverage of the election here https://inq.ph/Election2019

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TAGS: Belmonte, Binay, campaign, Cayetano, Crisologo, day one, duterte, Elections, Estrada, Hugpong, Isko Moreno, Lim, Makati, Manila, Metro Manila, politicinas, QC
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