DESPITE the merger of two major political groups in Negros Occidental, most of the localities in the province will have intense political rivalries as most of the incumbent mayors will have opponents in the May 13, 2019 elections.
Former Fourth District representative Jeffrey Ferrer, vice gubernatorial candidate of the unified United Negros Alliance and Love Negros, said there are several areas in the province where members of both parties are fighting against each other.
"The leaders of both parties have done our best efforts to avoid such situations but we have not stopped some of them. We, the leaders who decided the merger, understand the situation," Ferrer said.
Among the areas that will have intense political rivalries, especially for the mayoral posts, are San Carlos City which is between Vice Mayor Renato Gustilo and former vice mayor Edgardo Quisumbing; Toboso, incumbent Mayor Richard Jaojoco and cousin, former mayor Evello Valencia. Jaojoco said he will file a disqualification petition against Valencia, questioning his citizenship.
In E.B. Magalona, incumbent Mayor Marvin Malacon against Third District Board Member David Albert Lacson while in Silay City, incumbent Mayor Mark Andrew Golez will be challenged by former mayor Jose Montelibano.
In Valladolid, former mayor Ricardo Presbitero will try to regain the mayorship from incumbent Mayor Enrique Miravalles.
In Binalbagan, incumbent Fifth District Representative Alejandro Mirasol will try to get back the mayorship from his former ally, incumbent Mayor Emmanuel Aranda, while in La Castellana, incumbent Mayor Rhumyla Mangilimutan will be challenged by former vice mayor Felix Feria IV.
At lunchtime Wednesday, October 17, incumbent Moises Padilla Mayor Magdaleno Peña filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for re-election. He will be challenged by his niece, Vice Mayor Ella Garcia-Yulo who filed her COC on October 15 with escorts from the jail. She is presently detained for charges of illegal possession of grenade, firearms, and ammunition following her arrest, along with her husband, in a police checkpoint in December last year.
In Isabela, Irene Montilla, the widow of the late mayor Enrique Montilla III, filed her COC for mayor yesterday against incumbent Mayor Joselito Malabor.
In Hinigaran, incumbent Mayor Jose Nadie Arceo will be challenged by businessman Paul Yulo while in Himamaylan City, former vice mayor Raymond Tongson will attempt to grab the mayorship from the Bascons, as incumbent Vice Mayor Carmenia Bascon sought the mayoral post.
The said areas considered with intense political rivalries are not considered as political hotspots, according to Provincial Election Supervisor Jessie Suarez.
The challengers of the incumbents in the said areas have complete slates and are expected to put up a good fight.
Other localities with a challenge are Cadiz City with incumbent Board Member Salvador Escalante Jr. running for mayor, along with opponents Councilor Rey Yee and Manuel Garganera; Talisay City incumbent Mayor Nilo Jesus Antonio Lizares III will be against Joe Bantigue; Manapla, former mayor Manuel Escalante Jr. and Councilor Roy Plagata; Kabankalan City, Board Member Pedro Zayco again Nene Sola.
Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson will also have an opponent for governor after retired prosecutor, Rolando Parpa, filed his COC while Ferrer will also be opposed by Raul Baterna.
Former provincial agriculturist Igmedio Tabianan also filed his COC for board member in the Third District against Murcia Mayor Andrew Montelibano and incumbent Board Member Manuel Frederick Ko.
Board Member Alain Gatuslao who was earlier reported to run for congressman in the Fifth District has not filed his COC until the last day of the filing yesterday. Instead, his nephew, Nathaniel “Neil” Gatuslao Divinagracia, will run for board member under Unega.
Meanwhile, running unopposed were the three congressional bets in the province. They are incumbent Second District Representative Leo Cueva and newcomers Francisco Benitez, brother of Third District Representative Alfredo Benitez, and Maria Lourdes "Marilou" Arroyo-Lesaca, sister-in-law of former president and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Here is the list of provincial candidates who filed their COCs from October 11 to 17:
Governor: Incumbent Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, Rolando Parpa
Vice Governor: former Fourth District representative Jeffrey Ferrer, Raul Baterna
Congressman: San Carlos City Mayor Gerardo Valmayor, Ernesto Librando, Romulo Guion
Board member: Calatrava Mayor Araceli Samosa and re-electionist Rommel Debulgado
Congressman: Re-electionist Leo Rafael Cueva
Board member: Re-electionist Samson Mirhan, Sixto Guanzon Jr., Juan Musa, and Ely Joy Barredo
Congressman: Francisco Benitez
Board member: Murcia Mayor Andrew Montelibano, re-electionist Frederick Ko and former provincial agriculturist Igmedio Tabianan
Congressman: Re-electionist Juliet Marie Ferrer, Ann Joan Lenling, Enrique Erobas
Board member: Re-electionist Jose Benito Alonzo
Congressman: Maria Lourdes Arroyo-Lesaca
Board member: Himamaylan City Mayor Agustin Ernesto Bascon, Ricky Genova, Russel Tan,
Ernesto Adrian Aguilar, Nathaniel Gatuslao Divinagracia
Congressman: former vice governor Genaro Alvarez Jr., Joaquin Bilbao
Board Member: Jeffrey Tubola and Valentino Miguel Alonso, Reynaldo Novero, Normal Saril Samillano