3-way fight for Cebu governor; mayor withdraws reelection bid

·4 min read

THE race for Cebu governor will now be just a three-cornered fight among reelectionist Gwendolyn Garcia, former tourism secretary Joseph “Ace” Durano and independent candidate Nonito Magnanao, after two candidates backed out of the race Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, the last day for the withdrawal of certificates of candidacy (COC) and substitution of candidates for the May 2022 elections.

The day also saw the withdrawal of a city mayor for reelection and substitutions for the posts of district representative, Provincial Board member and city councilor.

Pablo Olmedo, pastor of the evangelical free church, withdrew his candidacy for governor at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Cebu Provincial Office, following the advice of his superiors to steer clear of politics.

“As a pastor we should not be in politics. We are to serve the church, share the word of God and pray for the candidates,” Olmedo said Monday.

Martin Mari Lozada, gubernatorial candidate of Abag-Promdi, also backed out of the race, saying his withdrawal was the decision of the party. And 5 p.m. came without the person expected to substitute him, former Pinamungajan mayor Geraldine Yapha.

During the visit of Sen. Manny Pacquiao to Cebu Sunday, reports had quoted the presidential aspirant as saying that Yapha would file her COC for Cebu governor on Monday.

The Comelec Cebu Provincial Office saw other withdrawals of COCs and filing for substitution Monday.

In the City of Naga, Mayor Kristine Chiong pulled out her COC for reelection to give way to her father, former mayor Valdemar “Val” Chiong.

Lawyer-couple Emmanuel Birao and Gayle Birao switched places after Emmanuel, who was running for Provincial Board member for the third district of Cebu, withdrew his COC and filed a COC to substitute for his wife, Gayle, who had filed to run for city councilor of Toledo City. Gayle withdrew her bid and filed a COC to substitute for her husband as board member.

Jephthah Yapha, a municipal councilor in the Municipality of Pinamungajan, also filed her COC for Provincial Board member for the third district of Cebu. She is the substitute of Romeo Gimenez Jr., who withdrew his COC Saturday, Nov. 13.

Asked to comment on these moves, Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano said these could be political strategies since the candidates had already assessed their chances of winning against their opponents.

“But then there are other reasons for that. It could be something personal,” Castillano said.

Castillano said withdrawals and substitutions had occurred in past elections, but it is only now that major politicians are doing this for some key positions in the country.

“In the past, the substitutions would just be for the post of councilor, but now they are for major positions,” Castillano said.

Meanwhile, in Cebu City, San Nicolas Barangay Captain Clifford Jude Niñal withdrew his COC for councilor for Cebu City’s south district and was substituted by Jose Lorenzo Abellanosa, son of outgoing Cebu City South District Rep. Rodrigo “Bebot” Abellanosa, according to Cebu City Election Officer II Omar Sharif Mamalinta.

“San Nicolas Proper, I am still your barangay captain. You are always my priority,” Niñal posted on Facebook.

Last Saturday, presidential aspirants Leni Robredo and Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao served as principal sponsors at the wedding of Jose Lorenzo Abellanosa in Cebu.

A day earlier, another of Representative Abellanosa’s sons, BG Rodrigo Abellanosa, became a substitute for former mayor Tomas Osmeña in the race for Cebu City south district representative.

Abag-Promdi mayoral candidate Michael Granada Matañoza also withdrew his candidacy for mayor of Cebu City at the Comelec office, still leaving seven candidates for the post, including Acting Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, former councilor Margot Osmeña and Councilor David Tumulak.

The Comelec said withdrawal of candidacy is still allowed until Dec. 15, 2021 before the printing of ballots begins.

In fact, withdrawal can be done until election day, May 9, 2022, but the names of the candidates can no longer be removed from the printed ballots and votes for them would not be counted.

“Yes, they may still withdraw, but their name will still appear in the ballot... But in the canvassing, dili na I count ila name (votes in their name will not be counted) but will be considered stray votes,” Castillano said. (ANV, IRT)

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