MAGANES: Local political campaign- Cojuangco’s popularity surges
As of this writing, the Election Day on May 9 is 46 days away. The local political campaign officially started last March 25, but since it fell on a Good Friday, the Commission on Election (Comelec) issued an order deferring it on March 26, a Black Saturday. With the local political campaign, the national campaign will undoubtedly be intensified. There will be massive political alignments and re-alignments depending on who of the national candidates will be perceived as the strongest.
At the local political fronts, political activities will be more intense. Political positioning has started early, even before the filing of the certificates of candidacies. We will expect that local candidates will be more visible not only in municipalities but down to the villages. This situation can be gleaned nationwide because the ultimate aim is who will be on top of the political situation a day before the Election Day.
In Pangasinan, the political scenario is more of who will get the support of the grassroots when it pertains to the gubernatorial and vice gubernatorial races. It is noteworthy to note that gubernatorial aspirant Mark O. Cojuangco has an edge over his opponent -the “annointed son” of the sitting governor. The governor will be pitted against the incumbent 5th District Rep. Kimi S. Cojuangco who will be running for her last term.
It will be recalled that gubernatorial aspirant Mark O. Cojuangco started his political positioning since February 10, 2014 when he announced that he was eyeing the gubernatorial post of Pangasinan in the 2016 election. His pronouncement earned the ire of his erstwhile allies-Governor Amado T. Espino Jr. and some members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP). Cojuangco, being the provincial chair of the Nationalist Peoples’ Coalition (NPC) was perceived as venturing into early politicking. That perception led to the bolting of Espino and NPC’s five SP members, Espino’s sons and a brother. At that time, Vice Governor Ferdinand Calimlim Jr. has not decided yet whether to bolt the NPC or not.
That one stroke of political plan of Cojuangco barely shook the leadership of NPC as members of NPC stood pat behind Cojuangco. Thirty six of the 47 municipal/city mayors declared their support to his gubernatorial bid leaving Espino scrambling for a party under which to run. To make things more supportive of Cojuangco, the Biskeg na Pangasinan, a local political party founded by Secretary Antonio “Bebot” Villar Jr. has thrown its support to Cojuangco who was later on appointed as the chairman.
Cojuangco has all the backings of “big names” of politics in Pangasinan. In District 1, we have Rep. Jesus “Boying” Celeste and Alaminos City Mayor Arturo Celeste, in District 2 he is backed up by the Orduñas of Bugallon, Castañedas of Lingayen, Mendozas of Lingayen, in District 3, Cojuangco is backed up by the Resuellos of San Carlos City, 3rd District Rep. Rosemarie “Baby” Arenas and her daughter former Rep. Rachel Arenas, the Domantays of Malasiqui, Calimlims (except Vice Governor Calimlim) of Mapandan and De Veras and Casingals of Bayambang.
The fourth district has likewise thrown support to Cojuangco’s gubernatorial bid with the endorsement of Rep. Gina De Venecia and her husband former Speaker Jose De Venecia. In the 5th District, the Cojuangcos’ political alliances are intact with the full backing of the Perezes in Urdaneta City, the Guicos of Binalonan, the Chans of Pozorrubio, the Abrenicas of Villasis, Villars of Sto. Tomas, Collados and Menciases of Alcala, the Alarcios of Laoac and the Ongs of Bautista.
In the 6th District, the formidable forces that will back up Cojuangco’s gubernatorial bid are seen in the Perezes of San Manuel, the Chuas and Lopezes of Asingan, Rep. Marlyn Primicias Agabas and her husband Tyrone in Tayug, the Pagadors of Rosales, the Peraltas of Balungao, the Saldivars of San Nicolas, the Ramoses of Sta. Maria and countless political supporters in Umingan.
Aside from those aforementioned political names, Cojuangco is also supported by the Abono Partylist led by its National Chair Rosendo O. So and Rep. Conrad M. Estrella III and his former Abono Partylist Rep. Raymund “Eskimo”Estrella Jr.
Cojuangco constantly dialogued with various sectors of Pangasinan-senior citizens, youth and students, professionals, women’s organizations, farmers and fishermen. His outreach campaign through his Medikalinga sa Pangasinan- a free surgical mission has escalated his popularity and advocacy on health services particularly that of the Barangay Health Workers (BHWs).
Cojuangco’s political support at the start of the local campaign cannot be underestimated. His opponent resorted to “black propaganda” and mudslinging to discredit him with issues. However, the issues hurled against him are eclipsed by the various programs and projects he had accomplished during his stint as representative of 5th District from 2001 to 2010.
On the other hand, Espino has no party to speak of. He wooed several political parties like the Liberal Party, Nacionalista Party, Lakas- Kampi Party (where he once belonged), etc. but he and his son were not accepted. He was given a certificate of nomination by the National Unity Party (NUP) when he filed his certificate of candidacy but it short lived as NUP has earlier nominated other candidates. Espino resorted to a dormant political party-Aksyon Demokratiko, a party founded by former Senator Raul Roco.
Can the formidable political forces backing up Cojuangco be maneuvered by the Espinos?
Remember, Espino still has to contend with cases such as on illegal mining, plunder, illegal numbers game, and many others.
Pangasinenses at this point in time are preparing to have a new leader in the person of Mark O. Cojuangco for a “Mas Maunlad na Pangasinan”.
(For comments, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my blog The Roving Pen at http://www.virgilmaganes.wordpress.com. Listen to my radio programs, “Ang Bagong Bayan Po(e)” aired over DZRD Sonshine Radio, 981 KHZ, 8:00-9:00 AM and “On Your Marks, 2nd Edition” aired over DWPR Radio Asenso, 1296 KHZ,10:15-11:15 AM. Both programs are aired Mondays to Fridays).
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