It’s still nine months before the 2016 elections but politics has started to get hotter.
In Nueva Ecija, a 1.3 million voter-strong province, both Liberal Party and UNA are in competition to get the biggest share of votes by raiding local politicians for alliances.
LP is said to be fielding 3rd district third term Rep. Czarina “Cherry” Domingo-Umali for governor against former Rep. Rodolfo “Rody” Antonino of the 4th district. Cherry, whose clan has Unang Sigaw Partido ng Pagbabago, is the wife of last termer Governor Aurelio “Oyie” Umali who beat Atty. JV Bautista, UNA secretary general and one of Binay’s spokesmen.
Cherry is said to be backed by 10 female local chief executives for her gubernatorial bid— Mayor Lovella Belmonte-Espiritu of Zaragoza, Mayor Elizabeth Vargas of Aliaga, Mayor Adrianne Mae Cuevas of Palayan City, Mayor Maricel Natividad of Gapan City, Mayor Areli Grace Santos of Gen. Natividad, Mayor Marivic Balena of San Jose City, Mayor Gloria Congco of Cabiao, Mayor Lorna Mae Vero of Llanera, and Mayor Nerivi Santos-Martinez of Talavera.
Meanwhile, Vice President Jejomar Binay’s camp is said to be exploring the possibility of fielding Antonino for governor and 2nd district representative Rep. Joseph Violago for vice governor. Violago, once close to the Umali, is an LP member on his third and last term as congressman.
But the Umali-Violago split is not all there is in the province. Cabanatuan City Mayor Julius Cesar “Jay” Vergara is said to have left the LP/Umali camp and have allied with UNA. Vergara has been pushing for the conversion of Cabanatuan into a highly urbanized city, a move which Umali opposed, obviously for political reasons.
Cabanatuan has the province’s biggest voting population with more than 200 thousand voters. It also contributes a hefty amount in the internal revenue of the province.
Vergara’s wife, Rosanna “Ria” Garcia Vergara, an MBA holder from Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts, is said to be running against Oyie Umali to represent the 3rd district.
On the other hand, there seems to be another option for the UNA camp— alliance with the Joson clan which, in the 2013 elections was with the Nationalist People’s Coalition. Fortunately (or unfortunately), the Umali clan toppled the Josons, leaving only Eduardo Rey Joson at the Provincial Board and son-in-law of former Gov. Edno Joson, Jose Francis Stevens Dizon as mayor of Guimba.
Will Joson be of added value to the UNA given the 2013 election results? Maybe no.
But let’s leave that problem to UNA. What is exciting (or maybe fearsome) is the political climate come election season. Everyone knows Nueva Ecija is among the provinces with most number of election-related violence.
In Nueva Vizcaya, there is a brewing battle between incumbent Governor Ruth Padilla, former PRC commissioner during the Arroyo regime, wife of lone district representative Carlos Padilla. Ruth was put in the hot seat last year over the alleged illegal dismissal of some 180 permanent and promoted employees of the provincial government.
It is not sure yet as to Carlos’ positioning for 2016 but he is now on his third and last term as a congressman.
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