The unopposed are “sitting pretty”

As the 45-day campaign period for the locals nears its start on March 29, local politicians are now engrossed in crafting last-minute strategies inside their war room on how to win the elections (no 3 Gs, please! Gold, Gun & Goons) come May 13, 2019. In short, the frantic Candidates are restless, always on the move, and no more time to recline in a swivel chair.

The above scenario is generally happening now in all the rest of the country. In Ilocos Norte, we have local candidates who are literally “sitting pretty” or in a secure position for no opposition dared to challenge them in their present top post owing to their good governance and impressive performance in their administration.

In the dialect, “mabalinda ti agpipiape lattan” or “pakuyakoy-yakoy na lang.”

For instance, in the poll derby for the top post in the four towns, namely, San Nicolas, Bangui, Dumalneg and Burgos, the political exercise in this area is perceived to be dull and boring as the opposition “went on vacation leave”, so to speak.

Definitely, there are four sitting mayors and several vice mayors, seeking another term. They will be in an advantageous situation while their counterparts endure the rigor of campaign skirmishes. By being “sitting pretty,” they will save a lot of money, time and effort throughout the election period.

Firstly, the curious people of San Nicolas have asked: Where are the perceived opposition? The silent answer is: Perhaps, they are keeping the proper time. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry knows that any attempt of collision course now against the siblings, incumbent Mayor Dr. Alfredo “Boying” Valdez, Jr. and Vice Mayor Edistio “Marlon” Valdez, is doomed to fail. The duo’s political machinery is really difficult to match with, hence, both are unopposed.

Secondly, in the windmill country of Bangui, incumbent Mayor Fidel Cimatu Jr. and his running mate Vice Mayor Denton Lawrence Garvida surely are enjoying the whizzing breeze in their turf till the proclamation day as the ambition of their prospective challengers was virtually blown away by the wind.

Cimatu’s past poll nemesis, former mayor Dr. Diosdado Garvida had opted to run for municipal councilor while the most-touted strong contender Councilor Engr. Joseph Sales, son of the veteran undefeated mayor Teddy Sales, is gentleman enough to change his mind and instead of facing off the sitting mayor, he’s now running for provincial board member in the first district where his winning chance is foreseen.

Thirdly, the Espiritu family in Dumalneg had fortified their political stronghold since their matriarch, then-Mayor Angelita Espiritu ruled the town at the height of communist insurgency problem in Ilocos Norte in the 1980s. Her strong leadership was passed on, since then, to her son former mayor now Vice Mayor Francisco Espiritu Jr. and his wife incumbent Mayor Lairvee Garvida Espiritu. The couple is seeking another fresh mandate with no opponents, hence, both are “sitting pretty” too.

In later years when I covered in Dumalneg as a journalist about the much-awaited surrender of top New People’s Army commanders Ka Jomar and Ka Roland, together with several comrades, to the government authorities, I was impressed by the energetic young Mayor Francis Espiritu who sat at the peace talk’s negotiating table where he aired his bright ideas and agenda geared to pursue lasting peace and reform in the province.

Listening to him in attendance were the province’s top brass led by then-Governor Rudy Farinas and some police-military commanders.

For this year’s political season, it’s obvious that the Dumalneg constituents are all solid anew in support to the Lairvee-Francis Espiritu tandem.

Fourthly, in Burgos town, the Campañano patriarch apparently gave way to his adversaries leaving Vice Mayor Cresente Garcia and Mayor Rodolfo Garcia sure-fire winners for mayor and vice mayor, respectively, this poll year. In the absence of opposition, Rudy and Enteng, the father-and-son tandem, are both likewise “sitting pretty.”

Erstwhile mayor Ben Campañano, my friend since my correspondent’s heydays with the Manila Bulletin and Tempo dailies, is perhaps retiring from politics for good and now concentrates more in his business including his long-time newspaper dealership.

Mayor Rudy Garcia is equally my known friend long before he joined politics. As a throwback, we rubbed elbows during the early years of Laoag as a new city when we used to have business deals, he as a sales executive of an appliance company and me as a local newspaper editor. In later years, we compared notes about our wheels, whenever we hit the road, as we drove the same car model, Ford Escort, a tested all-terrain ride.

Lastly, first district’s Vice Mayor Vic Vic Racimo of Vintar; second district’s Vice Mayor Chrislyn Abadilla of Banna and Vice Mayor Caroline Garvida of Nueva Era, all three likewise have no political foes to entangle with making them also as sure winners in their respective bids.

To all the unopposed, “mangala kay ti butaka ket mabalinyo ti agpipiape lattan bayat ti basingkawel ti politika. #