Widows of politicians meet contrasting fates in local polls
TRECE MARTIRES CITY, CAVITE, Philippines — Two women, whose husbands were killed allegedly by their political rivals, met different fates in mayoral elections in the provinces of Cavite and Albay.
Gemma Lubigan, widow of Trece Martires City Vice Mayor Alexander Lubigan, won over a rival family, while Gertrudes “Gertie” Batocabe, widow of Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe, lost in her bid to become mayor of Daraga, Albay.
In Cavite, Gemma, a mother of three, described her victory over Jun de Sagun, the patriarch of the clan that had ruled this city for nearly two decades, as “bittersweet.” Gemma, 43, defeated De Sagun by 6,953 votes.
“I don’t want to call it revenge, but justice and [an opportunity] to do what Alex would have wanted to do for the city,” she said.
Alexander and his driver-bodyguard Romulo Guillemer were gunned down on July 7 last year, just days after the vice mayor announced his plan to challenge the De Sagun family.
De Sagun’s son, incumbent Mayor Melandres de Sagun, was initially identified by authorities as the suspected mastermind but he was later cleared of any charges by the Department of Justice.
Melandres had denied any involvement in the killing. His supporters said the mayor was wrongly accused and was a victim of trial by publicity.
After the vice mayor was slain, the De Saguns fielded Jun, a former mayor who served three terms.
Gemma, whose prior government stint included being a former city administrator (under the De Saguns’ leadership), said she wanted to bring government services “closer to the people.”
She said she would pursue the case against Lawrence Arca, a former councilor of Maragondon town, and three others indicted in the case.
“That’s a different fight for me,” she added.
In Albay, Gertie expressed her gratitude to people and groups who supported her campaign.
“The results may not be in our favor but we have to respect that decision. We have fought a good and honorable fight and I am so grateful to have had your love and respect as a substitute candidate for my husband,” she said in a statement posted on Facebook.
Daraga Vice Mayor Victor Perete won over Gertie and reelectionist Mayor Carlwyn Baldo.
Perete garnered 24,616 votes to top the mayoral election. Gertie got 19,859 votes while Baldo got 16,564.
Authorities had tagged Baldo as suspected mastermind in the murder of Representative Batocabe and his security aide, SPO2 Orlando Diaz, on Dec. 22 last year.
Perete assumed as acting mayor on May 10 after Baldo, who was charged with double murder and six counts of attempted murder, surrendered to authorities.
Daraga was placed under the control of the Commission on Elections for this year’s elections.—Reports from Maricar Cinco and Ma. April Mier-Manjares
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