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‘Monopoly of force, funds’ spells dominance in local races – analyst

/ 05:02 AM March 26, 2022
For a university professor in Cebu City, money and power play a huge factor in the dominance of certain politicians in local races.

OPENING SALVO In this photo, reelectionist Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama (eighth from left) and his Partido Barug slate attend Mass at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral to open the local campaign on Friday.—NESTLE SEMILLA

(Last of two parts)

CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — For a university professor in Cebu City, money and power play a huge factor in the dominance of certain politicians in local races.

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“The field has narrowed down to those who can afford to find monetary sources and the monopoly of force to stand and defend its turf,” said Phoebe Zoe Maria Sanchez, a professor at the University of the Philippines Cebu’s History and Sociology College of Social Sciences, to explain why several candidates are running unopposed.

“[The] advantage [of being unopposed] is [a] sure win. The disadvantage is that nobody can truly prove and test political dynamics as in tune with democracy and participation,” Sanchez told the Inquirer in Facebook chat.

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In the Philippines, Sanchez calls the presence of unopposed candidates as “poverty of cathexis, cornered by a society in distress.”

“The society is annoyed (nayayamot) and feels that the electoral exercise is a ‘sick-ass battle’ (‘nakakaumay’). The common tao calls it ‘shortage of leadership,’” she said.

Symptom

“But the deeper meaning of this trend is drawn from the repeated pattern of electoral practice where the franchise is mustered by those who have the monopoly of force and the monopoly of funds,” she added.

A person, who sincerely wants to serve the public, ends up draining his/her funds since the election is designed for those who have the ability to source funds and the mastery of coercive force.

“It is basically a symptom of participatory democracy in distress,” she said.

In the Visayas, at least 90 candidates are unopposed, needing only one vote to clinch their victory in the May 9 elections.

According to records from the Commission on Elections, 42 of these candidates are running for mayor, 29 for vice mayor, 14 for a seat at the House of Representatives, two for governor, and three for vice governor.

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Eastern Visayas has the most unopposed candidates at 50, followed by Western Visayas at 35, and Central Visayas at five.

The number of unopposed candidates this election, however, is lower compared to the 2019 polls where 146 candidates did not face an opponent.

Councilor Margot Osmeña

Former Councilor Margot Osmeña (at right), also attends Mass at the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe with her husband, former Mayor Tomas Osmeña. —NESTLE SEMILLA

Families in politics

Most unopposed candidates in the Visayas are from big political families.

Take for instance the Espinas who have been ruling the island province of Biliran for about 30 years now.

Two clan members are unopposed: reelectionist Rep. Gerardo Espina Jr.; and his niece, Gretchen Espina, who is running for mayor in the capital town of Naval.

Nephews Jake Espina, who is running for vice mayor of Kawayan town, and Gerard Espina, the incumbent Naval mayor who is running for governor, have opponents. Gerard took the place of his father, Gov. Rogelio Espina, who chose not to seek reelection.

In Iloilo province, among those running unopposed are reelectionist Vice Gov. Christine Garin and her younger sister, Jennifer Garin-Colada, who is running for mayor in their hometown Guimbal.

The Garins are one of the political clans in Iloilo, dominating politics in the first congressional district for decades.

Aside from family members running unopposed, former Rep. Oscar “Richard” Garin Jr. is running for mayor of Miagao town while his mother, Ninfa, is seeking reelection as mayor of San Joaquin town. His wife, Rep. Janette Garin, is seeking reelection.

In Aklan province, Board Member Jose Miguel Miraflores, son of Gov. Florencio Miraflores, is unopposed for mayor of their hometown Ibajay.

Florencio, who is serving his last term, has fielded his other son, Jose Enrique, to replace him. While Jose Enrique has an opponent in the gubernatorial race, the Mirafloreses have never been defeated in the elections.

In Cebu, the younger brother of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia will not face a challenger in his reelection bid.

Running unopposed has its perks, said Rep. Pablo John Garcia of Cebu’s third district.

Aside from taking the pressure off, he said, the candidate also would not need to spend much in the campaign.

Asked why no one dared to face him in the polls, Garcia, secretary-general of One Cebu, the most dominant party in the province, said: “I would like to think that it’s because of our performance, and our solid machinery in the third district which we have nurtured these past years. But who knows, really?”

Since he is unopposed, Garcia said he would campaign for the party’s candidates in the district as well as in the province of Cebu, where his sister would seek reelection against former Tourism Secretary Ace Durano.

 Local candidates in Iligan City sign on March 15 a covenant

COMMITMENT Local candidates in Iligan City sign on March 15 a covenant committing to observe peaceful and credible elections. —DIVINA M. SUSON

No contest

In Mindanao, the elections in many localities of the Bangsamoro region—particularly the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi—is expected to be “dull” as slates are unopposed.

In 14 of 19 towns in Sulu, there is practically no contest for elective seats. There are also no contest for governor, vice governor and two congressional representatives.

This gives time and opportunity for the local politicians, mostly from the administration Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, to push for their favored national candidates.

In Sulu, Gov. Abdusakur Tan, Vice Gov. Abdusakur Tan II, and Representatives Samier Tan (first district) and Munir Arbison Jr. (second district) are assured of reelection.

In Hadji Panglima Tahil town, the slate headed by reelectionist Mayor Moh. Mustafa Burahan is unopposed while in Indanan town, the slate headed by reelectionist Mayor Hermot Jikiri is unopposed, save for an independent candidate for councilor.

In Jolo town, the ticket of reelectionist Mayor Kerkhar Tan is unopposed, save for two bets for councilor. In Kalingalan Caluang, the slate of reelectionist Mayor Nurshamier Halun is unopposed, save for one independent bet contending for councilor.

In Luuk, reelectionist Mayor Maryam Arbison’s slate is unopposed, save for one independent bet contending for councilor. Arnel Arbison of Nacionalista Party is also unopposed as vice mayor.In Maimbung, the slate of reelectionist Mayor Shihla Hayudini is unopposed, with an independent bet contending for councilor seat.

Assured of reelection are Old Panamao Mayor Al-Frazier Abdurajak and Vice Mayor Renden Abdurajak, Pandami Mayor Nurhan Berto, and Patikul Vice Mayor Pulaus Tarsum.

The slates of reelectionists Panglima Estino Mayor Munib Estino, Pata Mayor Abdurauf Burahan, Talipao Mayor Nivocadnezar Tulawie and Tongkil Mayor Whidzfar Sahidulla are unopposed.

The administration party’s council slates in Patikul, Tapul and Tongkil are also assured of victory.Elsewhere in Mindanao

In Lanao del Sur province, the candidates for mayor and vice mayor in the towns of Amai Manabilang, Calanogas, Kapai and Kapatagan are unopposed. Also without challengers are candidates for vice mayor in Lumbayanague and Piagapo.

In Tawi-Tawi province, candidates for the top two posts in the towns of Bongao and Languyan are unopposed. The candidate for vice mayor of Panglima Sugala will not face an opponent.

In Maguindanao province, the candidates for mayor and vice mayor in Datu Anggal Midtimbang and Guindulungan are without opponents.

Agusan del Sur Gov. Santiago Cane Jr., Vice Gov. Samuel Tortor and Representatives Adolph Edward Plaza (first district) and Alfel Bascug (second district) are assured of reelection.

Candidates in the top two posts in Bayugan City and the towns of Esperanza and Trento are unopposed.

In Loreto town, the slate led by reelectionist Mayor Lorife Otaza is unopposed, save for one independent bet for councilor, while in San Luis, the ticket headed by mayoral bet Ronaldo Corvera is also unopposed, save for two independent bets vying for council seats.

No challenger

The National Unity Party slate headed by reelectionist Veruela Mayor Myrna Mondejar is unopposed, save for one candidate for councilor.

In Sibagat, Maria Liza Evangelista is unopposed for vice mayor.

In Agusan del Norte, Enrico Corvera is unopposed for vice governor while reelectionist Cabadbaran City Mayor Judy Amante is also assured of victory.

In Dinagat Islands, the candidates for mayor and vice mayor of Cagdianao are unopposed while the reelectionist vice mayors of Basilisa and Dinagat are assured of victory.

In Surigao del Norte, Bacuag Mayor Felicisimo Cebedo and Vice Mayor Sheila Mae Cebedo are assured of reelection.

Among the unopposed candidates in Davao Oriental are Gov. Corazon Malanyaon, Rep. Nelson Dayanghirang and Nestor Uy, who is running for vice mayor of Tarragona.

In Davao de Oro, candidates for the top two elective seats in Laak and New Bataan towns, are assured of reelection.

In Davao del Norte, reelectionist Kapalong Mayor Maria Theresa Timbol and Vice Mayor Edgardo Timbol are unopposed.

In Davao del Sur, the candidates for mayor of Kiblawan and for vice mayor of Malalag are without challengers.

In Davao Occidental, Gov. Franklin Bautista, Vice Gov. Lorna Bandigan and Rep. Claude Bautista are unopposed. Also without challengers are reelectionist Malita Mayor Bradly Bautista and Santa Maria Vice Mayor Josephine Mariscal.

In Sultan Kudarat province, the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats slate headed by Datu Pakung Mangudadatu in Lutayan town is unopposed.

Victory assured

In South Cotabato, the candidate for vice mayor of Santo Niño is unopposed.

In Sarangani, Malungon Mayor Maria Theresa Constantino and Vice Mayor Mariano Escalada Jr., and Alabel Vice Mayor Vic Salarda are assured of reelection.

In Cotabato province, candidates for the two top elective positions in the towns of Antipas, Mlang, and President Roxas are unopposed while the vice mayor of Makilala is assured of reelection.

In Lanao del Norte province the reelectionist mayors of Balo-i, Sultan Naga Dimaporo and Pantao Ragat and vice mayors of Bacolod, Linamon, Sultan Naga Dimaporo and Pantao Ragat are unopposed. Also without a rival is the candidate for vice mayor of Sapad.

In Misamis Occidental province, candidates for the top two seats in Panaon, Bonifacio and Aloran are unopposed. The candidates for vice mayor in Sapang Dalaga, Tudela, Calamba and Don Victoriano Chiongbian are assured of victory.

In Misamis Oriental province, the candidates for vice mayor in Balingasag and El Salvador City are unopposed. The candidates for vice mayor in Sapang Dalaga, Tudela, Calamba and Don Victoriano Chiongbian are assured of victory.

In Misamis Oriental province, the candidates for vice mayor in Balingasag and El Salvador City are unopposed.

In Bukidnon province, the mayors and vice mayors of Kibawe and Libona are assured of reelection while the candidates for vice mayor in Kitaotao and San Fernando have no challengers.

In Zamboanga del Norte province, bets for mayor in Godod and Liloy, and for vice mayor in Godod and Tampilisan are unopposed.

In Zamboanga Sibugay province, Titay Mayor Leonardo Talania and Vice Mayor Elizer Yamaro, and Naga Vice Mayor Romeo Pantag are assured of reelection.

—REPORTS FROM ADOR VINCENT MAYOL, JOEY GABIETA, NESTOR BURGOS JR., CARLA GOMEZ, RICHEL UMEL, ELDIE AGUIRRE, CARMELITO FRANCISCO, CHRIS PANGANIBAN, DIVINA SUSON AND RYAN ROSAURO

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