NOT EXACTLY the X – as in mysterious – having been publicly announced, but the no-less magical, indeed, material factor that spelled the difference in the Angeles City mayoralty race was the Iglesia ni Cristo vote.
All one needs is a quick look at the numbers. Winner Pogi Lazatin posted 59,192 votes, runner-up Bryan Nepomuceno had 45,711. The difference of 13,481 corresponded closely to the vaunted, if approximated, 13,000 to 15,000 INC bloc votes.
Thereby reinforced anew the long, long held belief, aye, a political dogma, that no one, absolutely no one could ever be elected Angeles City mayor without the INC anointment.
A city council seat though is a different story. The always-non-anointed Amos Rivera has consistently won. And the now-unblessed Jay Sangil still made it.
While not so “potently decisive” as in AC, the INC factor in the City of San Fernando did add up to the numbers of incumbent Mayor Edwin Santiago at 74,125 – not exactly serving as some loose change, with Vilma Caluag managing 52,225.
It was in the vice mayoralty race that the INC ballots played a pivotal role. Taken out of Jimmy Lazatin’s winning 66,277, the sect’s bloc votes would have had Angie Hizon won with her base votes of 56,264. The 10,000-gap easily bridged with the voting kapatid in the capital city.
As in AC, so in CSFP, and more spectacularly so. INC-unchosen BJ Tiger Lagman topped the council race, leading his closest pursuer by 6,213 votes and the tailender in the Magic 10 by 21,503 votes, with the two included in the INC ballot. The other Lagman candidate that the INC blessed did land in the winning circle, 17,156 votes behind BJ.
Not a single Iglesia vote and Lagman still managed to score 70,978! Some rethink is imperative here for political strategists – as much on the efficacy, if not the actual strength of the INC bloc, as in the emergence of a shining nova in the city’s political firmament.
What eluded his father Ely the Tiger – the unbeatable vice mayor but the best mayor San Fernando never had – could well be opening up for BJ, grandly.
The ambivalence, okay, uncertainty of the INC votes is perhaps best exampled in the 1st District of Pampanga.
With the INC support, Coach Yeng Guiao won the congressional contest of 2013 against former Rep. Blueboy Nepomuceno.
Without the INC vote, Guiao lost his seat in 2016 to Rep. Jonjon Lazatin.
With the INC again backing him in the return bout in the polls just past, Guiao lost again – 149,398 to 104,796 – swept in all two cities and one town of the district.
In the 4th District congressional polls, ruling Rep. Rimpy Bondoc appears to have been immunized from the INC vote.
As in his fight against former Candaba Mayor Jerry Pelayo in 2010, so in his battle against former board member Ric Yabut in 2019 – Rimpy annihilating his INC-backed rivals.
Speaking of Candaba, former Mayor Rene Maglanque made a stunning comeback against the INC-anointed incumbent Mayor Dan Baylon.
The INC votes likewise failed to launch Vice Mayor Dexter David to the mayorship of Porac, and to keep incumbent Sto. Tomas Mayor Johnny Sambo in his post. The latter losing by a little over 100 votes to VM Gloria “Ninang” Ronquillo who crafted history as the first lady mayor of Pampanga’s smallest town of only seven barangays.
The inefficacy of the INC votes in the 2019 polls was most pronounced in Mabalacat City.
The already formidable tandem of VM Christian Halili and once-forever-mayor Marino “Boking” Morales in reversed roles was even made more invincible – on paper – with the anointment of the INC.
Why a plus-10,000 for incumbent Mayor Cris Garbo was reported to have been proffered by some oddsmakers, with nobody biting. Convinced – seemingly – as the voting public was of his opponents’ vaunted invincibility.
Stunning thus came the report of Garbo (at 52,517) trouncing Halili (at 34,694) by 17,823 votes.
Neither stunned nor even surprised though were those in the know. Ranged against his rival’s INC bloc, Garbo earned the “solid” support of the Born-Again evangelicals and fundamentalists, as well as what little of the so-called conservative Catholic vote. An even greater entity going Garbo all the way is the patriarchal “INT.” Don’t ask me what it means, else I blaspheme and go excommunicado.
As bitter, aye, bitterest, as it can ever get, the Mabalacat City outcome for one man.
In the 2016 local elections, he garnered 39,919 votes, more than the combined total of his three rivals – the closest at 17,553, the next at 10,696, and the last at 5,750.
In the polls just past, he managed 30,022 – still winnable by the 2016 standards. However, he had just one opponent this time, getting 52,509 votes.
In less than two years after his Comelected eviction from the Mabalacat City hall, once eternal mayor Boking Morales got the worst drubbing of his political life, the pain of losing by landslide exacerbated by at least two factors: 1) that it was inflicted by his own nephew; 2) the prize at stake was only the vice-mayoralty, below Boking’s stature of hizzoner for 22 years.
Maybe, the electorate just got tired of Boking. But then, someone who looked like his go-to-guy Deng Pangilinan cried: Pang-mayor lang si Boking. Hindi pang-vice.
Yeah, I remember then-vice mayor Boking lost too in his first attempt at the mayorship in 1992, despite INC backing. He won all elections since with the INC. Now losing anew, still with the INC.
Gone full circle there, as much for Boking as for the INC. Whence, a new beginning evolving.
Yeah, this epic loss notwithstanding, it is too premature to write finis to Boking. And the INC vote too.