8 contenders challenge Yaranon for mayorship
BAGUIO CITY (March 30) — It can be considered a David versus Goliath story in this city as Councilor Jose Mencio Molintas, of the United Opposition (UNO), battles for the top position against incumbent Rep. Mauricio Domogan, a rabid ally of the Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
In the election history of this city, it was in the 2004 mayoralty contest when the daring crusader Councilor Braulio Yaranon defeated then incumbent mayor Bernardo Vergara, who was the administration candidate with more than generous resources for the political election campaign. Yaranon made history when he with his simple conviction and limited resources defeated the incumbent by thousands of votes, a-never in Baguio’s election history.
By being vocal against different issues involving transactions favoring corporate interests like the Jadewell Parking System and Uniwide interest of privatizing the market, observers believe that the 2004 election experience could be repeated, not for the mayorship only, but also for the congressional seat.
The basic issue being raised for the congressional representation is the institutionalization of a consultation mechanism for the city constituents on issues of public interest.
Urban poor leader Geraldine Cacho points out that the basic rights of Baguio residents to be consulted on various issues before deciding in their behalf in congress has been greatly neglected.
Congress records show that the Congressman Domogan voted in favor of the Expanded Value Added Tax (EVAT) Law, and voted against the two impeachment cases against GMA, and against the P125 across the board salary increase for private employees.
“He (Domogan) voted according to what was dictated by his party – the LAKAS-CMD rather than listening to the needs and views of his constituents. In fact, he has failed to adopt legislations that would address the land and housing problem in the city,” added Cacho.
Ramon Kindipan (Independent) and Thomas Tayengco (KBL) are also vying for congress.
Free for all for mayorship
Yaranon stand on his clean records and honest credentials in his bid for re-election. Though he was suspended by Malacanang for two-six months for allegedly abusing his power for the closure of Jadewell.
The other candidates contesting Yaranon for the mayorship included two officials in their acting capacity due to his (Yaranon’s suspension): acting mayor Reinaldo Bautista (KAMPI) and acting vice-mayor Leandro Yangot (Liberal Party). Other contenders are: Virgilio Baustista (Independent), Ramon Labo (KBL), Elmo Nevada (PRP), and Felipe Ramos (Independent).
With the nine candidates vying for mayor, votes from organized groups can serve as a swing vote, an observer claims. The votes include those from the party lists who can deliver votes based on candidate/s position on issues.
The vice-mayorship is being contested by new comers. Four lawyers and councilors are contesting the position, namely, Faustino Olowan (UNO/PDSP), Edilberto Tenefrancia (LAKAS-CMD), Elmer Datuin (Liberal Party), and Daniel Farinas (KAMPI/NP). Only Datuin has already ended his third term as councilor.
The other vice-mayoralty candidates are Antolin Mascarenas (KBL) and former City Police Chief Roberto “Bungo” Ortega.
If the Baguio voters would vote on their tribal affiliation, Olowan has an advantage as all the other challengers are considered lowlanders.
Olowan belongs to the Kankanaey tribe of Mountain Province, who are noted for voting solidly for their “kailyans” (tribe mates). In the 2004 election, three councilors whose ancestors originate from Mountain Province’ Kankanaey topped the Sangguniang Panglungsod: they are Yangot (1st), Rocky Balisong (3rd and running for reelection), and Olowan (5th) from the 12 member SP. Other Kankanaey trying their luck for the SP are Patrick Dangatan Sr. (LP), Nicasio Aliping (LAKAS-CMD), Fred Bagbagen (UNO), Jeannette Cawiding (LP), and Joseph Marerro (UNO). Their kailyans claim that this election is a test if they can elect these big number of their “kailyans”.
The 12 slots for the SP are being contested by 50 candidates, COMELEC lists in the city shows.
Only four SP members are vying for reelection: Balisong, Pinky Rondez, Galo Weygan and Antonio Tabora. Balisong, Rondez, and Weygan are running under the Independent Baguio Coalition with other three neophytes. Tabora is running under the Nationalista Party.
Media practitioners throw their hats for SP, namely, Edison Ang (TV, LAKAS-CMD), Joaquin Carino (Freelance print, UNO), Odell “Bombito” Aquino (Liberal), and Jogin Tamayo (Print, KAMPI-NP). The mother of ABS-CBN personality Elaine Sembrano is also joining the contest under UNO. (Please see election corner for the complete lists.)
Lawyers too had thrown their hats, which include Balisong, human rights lawyer Richard Carino, Bagbagen, former city prosecutor Erdolfo Balajadia, Nick Palaganas, Ronaldo Perez, Rondez, Betty Tabanda, Richard Zarate, and Reynaldo Cortes. Observers teased how Cortes accepted his party mate Bungo Ortega, allegedly involved in extra-judicial killings of criminals in the city during his time as chief of police in Baguio.
The sole movie personality running for SP is Roi Vinzon David but Baguio residents however claimed they are politically conscious at present and they are to vote based on issues and not personalities. “We can vote for personalities who can fight for our issues, like what we did in 2004 catapulting Yaranon and defeating a rich politician. I think we can do it now,” claims Ignacio Pangket, an organizer of drivers and urban poor. # Arthur L. Allad-iw for NORDIS