New alliances leave many Visayas politicians unopposed
FORMING political alliances. Knowing when to wage a battle. Befriending political foes.
These are some of the reasons at least 50 candidates for governor, vice governor, mayor, vice mayor and congressmen in the Visayas are running unopposed.
Some have learned the art of befriending their enemies to form new political alliances. Others have become such a formidable force in their localities that opponents are waiting for them to complete the allowed number of terms when they will no longer be eligible for reelection.
In Cebu province, three candidates are running unopposed: brothers Mayor Rex Gerona and Vice Mayor Raul Gerona of Tabuelan town and Vice Mayor John Ungab of Ronda town.
The Geronas have run Tabuelan town, 86 kilometers north of Cebu City, since 1998 when Rex was first elected mayor. Since then, Rex, Raul and their father, Casiano, have taken turns as mayor.
Rex said they had befriended former mayor Johnny Menchavez whom he defeated in 2001. Menchavez ran for councilor in 2007 in the Geronas’ ticket.
Now that Menchavez has completed his third term, his wife, Lucia, is running for councilor with the Geronas.
The Geronas’ other political opponents are also not challenging them in the coming elections.
Little chance of winning
Former Tabuelan Councilors Zito Gallo and Flordeliz Valayo ran for mayor against a Gerona in separate elections and were defeated. This time, both decided to just run for councilor.
A reelectionist, Gallo said he was not ready to challenge the incumbent again as he had little chance of winning. “I’m on my first term as councilor, so I want to be reelected. If people would help us in the next elections, I might run again [for mayor],” he said.
Ungab, who is running unopposed for mayor of Ronda, is the nephew of the incumbent mayor, Mariano Blanco III. Like the Geronas, the Blancos have ruled the coastal town for some time now.
Last year, Ungab made headlines when his wife hit with a baseball bat his alleged mistress, a lawyer who vehemently denied having a relationship with the vice mayor. The lawyer sued Ungab’s wife.
Grace Bualat, head of University of San Carlos’ political science department, said political patronage discouraged people from running against deeply entrenched political families.
“Patronage is deeply rooted. No one will ever dare to contest them (families) in an electoral exercise either because the opponent expects to lose or because he/she doesn’t have the money to launch a serious challenge,” she said.
Unchallenged for the 3rd time
It is the same for Negros Occidental province. The incumbent governor, Alfredo Marañon Jr., is running unopposed for a third term because his opponents have conceded that they cannot defeat him.
Marañon, chair of the United Negros Alliance (Unega), was an underdog in 2013 after he was unceremoniously removed from the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) slate.
NPC chair emeritus Eduardo Cojuangco, a former ally of Marañon, threw his support to former Vice Gov. Genaro Alvarez in the gubernatorial race. Alvarez also had the backing of Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez of Negros Occidental’s third district, considered the fourth-richest man in Congress.
Despite Alvarez’s formidable resources, Marañon won by a margin of 170,085.
This year, the local opposition party, Love Negros, decided not to field a candidate for governor, acknowledging Marañon’s broad support.
“Love Negros respects the sentiments of a clear majority of Negrosanons,” explained reelectionist Vice Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson when asked why his party was not fielding a gubernatorial candidate.
Aside from being a formidable force, some candidates are unopposed due to political alliances.
In Western Visayas, at least 15 candidates for congressmen, mayor and governor are running unopposed because of the alliances they have formed. Reports from Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Carmel Loise Matus, Carla P. Gomez and Joey A. Gabieta
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