SEVENTEEN candidates for congressman, mayor and vice mayor in 12 localities in Cebu are already considered winners in the May 13 elections, as long as they will vote for themselves.
The Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) official list of candidates posted in its website shows that there are 17 candidates from Cebu towns and cities who are running unopposed—one for congressman, six for mayor, and 10 for vice mayor.
They will only need one vote to win, and this vote can be their own, said Toledo City Election Officer Marchel Sarno.
Of the 17 candidates, seven are allied with One Cebu, one is with the Liberal Party (LP), four are with the Barug Alang sa Kauswagan ug Demokrasya Party (Bakud), two are with the Nacionalista Party (NP) and two are with the National Unity Party (NUP).
The NP and NUP candidates are also allied with One Cebu, while Bakud is allied with the LP.
In an interview yesterday, Sarno said that just because some candidates have no opponents does not mean the voters have no other choice.
“To vote for a particular candidate is an exercise of one’s right, and so is not voting for that candidate. If one wants to boycott the lone candidate because he or she doesn’t like the person, it is still an exercise of their right not to vote. There is no such thing as not having a choice,” said Sarno.
Earlier, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez told Sun.Star News Exchange that even if some candidates do not have an opponent, they still need one vote cast in their favor to win an election.”
“We are a first-past-the-post system; meaning, you have to get the most number of votes cast in an election. Thus, theoretically, if no votes are cast, even an unopposed candidate will have no basis for winning,” Jimenez said.
In Cebu’s first district, Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas of the Alayon Party is the lone candidate for congressman. Alayon is allied with One Cebu.
As for the mayoral race, among those who have no opponent are incumbent mayors Edsel Galeos of Argao (LP), Alan Adlawan of Asturias (One Cebu), Ian Escario of Bantayan (NUP), Ronald Allan Cesante of Dalaguete (One Cebu), Boy Rama of Poro (Bakud) and Aly Arquillano of San Francisco (Bakud).
In the vice mayoral race, Cirilo Apuda of Sibonga (NP), Gary Rama of Poro (Bakud), Delfin Senor of Naga City (NP), Nelson Abenido of Moalboal (One Cebu), Jeffrey Belcina of Dalaguete (One Cebu), Mario Barcenas of Carcar City (One Cebu), Chad Canares of Bantayan (NUP), Joel Dumdum of Asturias (One Cebu) and Michael Sestoso of Alcoy (One Cebu) are also running unopposed.
For Rep. Pablo John Garcia (Cebu, 2nd district), One Cebu’s gubernatorial candidate, the absence of opponents in some towns does not necessarily mean less pressure for their allies.
“The pressure is the same because our mayors are pressured to deliver because there is no reason why they can’t, being unopposed,” he said, when asked what the campaign is like in towns where the Liberal Party has no candidates.
Among the 44 towns in the province, it is only in Argao town where One Cebu did not field a candidate for mayor.
“It was a family decision. My father (Congressman Pablo Garcia) treats Mayor Edsel Galeos as a son. We do not betray true friends,” Garcia explained.
For his part, LP Cebu chairman and gubernatorial candidate Hilario Davide III admitted they are campaigning extra hard in the towns where they have no candidate for mayor and vice mayor.
He said they would have wanted to have a complete slate in all towns and cities, but it was not possible in some localities.
“We tried but there was no material for some areas. We couldn’t find anyone who was willing to challenge the incumbent so we just have to work extra hard during the campaign in these towns,” Davide said.
He explained that the candidates were chosen by district chairpersons of LP, who also consulted the party’s local leaders.
In a separate interview yesterday, Dalaguete Mayor Ronald Allan Cesante said he still has to campaign for himself even if it will only take one vote to ensure his victory.
He admitted that this year’s campaign is easier for him than the 2010 campaign, when he had an opponent.
“We still have to campaign hard because being a party member, we also have to help our party mates. The advantage of running unopposed is that I have more time to help our other candidates, especially the governor,” Cesante added.