Jail won’t keep Reyes brothers from polls
A prison cell in Puerto Princesa City in Palawan is causing a stir in elections in the province as its most known occupants, two brothers who continue to wield influence in the province and are detained on charges of plotting the murder of one of their biggest critics, filed their bids to run for the two highest posts of a town known to be their turf.
Joel T. Reyes, former Palawan governor, and his brother, Mario, filed their certificates of candidacy (COCs) for mayor and vice mayor of their hometown and known turf, the resort town of Coron. Mario is former mayor of Coron.
Marilyn Cabiguen, Coron assistant election officer, said the Reyes brothers are running as independent candidates. Their COCs were filed on their behalf by a representative.
The brothers are currently locked up at the Puerto Princesa City Jail facing trial for the murder in 2011 of broadcaster and environmentalist Dr. Gerry Ortega, a vocal critic of former Governor Reyes.
The ex-governor’s bid to run for mayor of Coron ended speculation that he would challenge incumbent Gov. Jose Chaves Alvarez.
Incumbent Coron Mayor Clara Reyes, the wife of Joel Reyes, has not filed her COC for any position and is believed to be giving way to her husband, according to sources.
Mario was mayor of Coron before he was implicated in the Ortega murder and went into hiding.
The former governor and his brother, both fugitives for over three years until their capture in Phuket, Thailand, last month, are facing a murder charge at the Regional Trial Court in Puerto Princesa as alleged masterminds of the Ortega murder.
Sources said Joel Reyes will face two other candidates for the coveted mayoralty post of the prime tourist town in northern Palawan’s Calamianes island group.
Discord in Negros
In Negros Occidental province, the provincial chair of the Liberal Party (LP), Rep. Albee Benitez, filed his COC for reelection as an independent.
Benitez, the fourth richest member of the House of Representatives, had admitted having a misunderstanding with LP standard-bearer Mar Roxas and offering to resign from the party.
“As of now, I’m party-less,” said Benitez when asked if he still belonged to the LP.
According to the lawmaker, he had “no choice” but to file his COC as an independent because his mayors “all have opponents from the Liberal Party.”
“It is not a simple matter of abandoning my party. I just chose to stand by my people, who by the way, are all LP members and supporters, but who are now unfortunately, up against LP candidates,” he said.
LP has entrusted the campaign of Roxas and running mate Leni Robredo in the province to former Gov. Rafael Coscolluela, which apparently irked Benitez.
Coscolluela has also been given the authority to sign certificates of nomination of LP candidates.
Wet, noisy in Cebu
In Cebu City, it was a wet and noisy party for reelectionist Mayor Michael Rama who filed his COC accompanied by his entire slate and at least 2,000 supporters past 10 a.m. yesterday.
Rama, and other members of his party Pundok-Panaghiusa-Team Rama, first heard Mass at Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral which turned into a stage for a political rally teeming with yellow shirts with green markings.
Traffic ground to a halt on Burgos Street in front of the cathedral and on Osmeña Boulevard in front of the Commission on Elections office in the city as the group of Rama went on with its COC-filing party.
As Rama’s group drew near a fire truck, it was sprayed with water, apparently part of the group’s gimmick. “You have to remember, water is life, water means blessing,” said Rama.
In Iloilo City, the National Unity Party is on a head-on collision with the ruling LP. Ferjenel Brion, former representative, filed his COC to challenge the reelection of Rep. Oscar Garin Jr., of the LP.
In Guimaras, former Gov. Felipe Nava filed his COC to run for governor as a United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) candidate.
Running for UNA as representative of Iloilo’s lone congressional district is businessman Henry Babiera.
Davids vs Goliaths
In North Cotabato province, a tricycle driver emerged to be a rival of the reelectionist governor of North Cotabato as the filing of COCs wound up yesterday.
Manuel Adajar, 60, filed his COC for governor to challenge incumbent Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, who is seeking reelection.
Also in North Cotabato, controversial Rep. Nancy Catamco said she has filed her COC for reelection through a proxy.
In Maguindanao province, a previously unheard-of candidate, Kalil Marangit Abeb, filed his COC to challenge reelectionist
Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu.
In Bansalan, Davao del Sur province, suspended Mayor Edwin Reyes filed his COC for vice mayor under the slate of last-term councilor and ally, Quirina Sarte, who is running for mayor.
Reyes has been suspended by the Ombudsman for issuing permits to firecracker vendors in violation of a municipal ordinance banning the display of pyrotechnics at the public market of Bansalan.
Bansalan Vice Mayor Arnel Gallardo filed his COC for mayor.
In Digos City, former Vice Gov. Arsenio Latasa yesterday led Nationalist People’s Coalition stalwarts in filing COCs. He is running for governor against former Gov. Douglas Cagas, who is in jail for the alleged murder of journalist Nestor Bedolido.
Three candidates filed their COCs for representative of the first district of Davao del Sur—businessman Pablo Villaber, Santa Cruz Mayor Joel Ray Lopez and reelectionist Rep. Mercedes Cagas, Douglas’ wife.
In Digos City, Councilor Josef Cagas, of the Nacionalista Party, is challenging reelectionist Mayor Joseph Peñas, of the LP.
The race is regarded as a close one as Cagas lost to Peñas in 2013 by only 200 votes.
In Lanao del Norte province, Eleanor Dimaporo Lantud, of UNA, filed a COC for governor. Eleanor had served three terms as mayor of Pantao Ragat town and is challenging Rep. Imelda Quibranza Dimaporo in the gubernatorial race.
Imelda’s husband, Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo, is running for reelection in the second district.
Their son, Khalid, who is incumbent governor, is running for representative of the first district. Redempto Anda, Inquirer Southern Luzon; Nestor P. Burgos Jr. and Carla P. Gomez, Inquirer Visayas; and Richel Umel, Charlie Senase, Nash Maulana, Orlando Dinoy, Eldie Aguirre and Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao
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