REELECTION. RECLAMATION. Rookies. Rising up. The four Rs, in that descending order, sum up the results of the local elections in Pampanga.
The two component cities and nine towns saw their hizzoners managing to hold on to their posts, in varying fashions though – firmly, comfortably, or tenaciously, by the pinky metaphorically.
In actual number of votes, Arayat’s Bon Alejandrino holds the biggest margin – 32,468 – over his closest rival. At second spot is the City of San Fernando’s Edwin Santiago with 21,900, followed by Mexico’s Teddy Tumang with 19,301.
Alejandrino, Santiago, Tumang In Governance – ASTIG, aptly – demonstrated there the three mayor’s rock solidity with their respective constituencies. (Incidentally, all three are from the 3rd District.)
Of course, it can never be as solid as it can ever get with Masantol’s Dan Guintu running sans any rival and still getting 19,873 votes.
He never won in any pre-election survey since running for councilor long, long time ago but once more he proved the pollsters wrong. Mabalacat City’s Cris Garbo’ first election as sitting mayor saw him trouncing his rival by 17,823 votes.
Still, I would not be confident as to say Garbo shall surely hold sway over his city all the way to 2022.
I pointed in our last issue here the ecstatic high of mayor-for-over-20-years Boking Morales in 2016 getting more votes than those of his three rivals – Garbo included – combined, only to fall in the abyss of agony in 2019 losing by over 22,000 votes. And it was only for vice mayor that he ran.
Dante Torres is a revelation in Guagua, winning by 16,515 votes. Notwithstanding the three suspension orders against him by the Ombudsman for a number of administrative lapses. Yes, and the much-bruited about tsunami of “Betis vote” against him may have been no more than that – bruit, noise in its original meaning.
Minalin’s Edgar Flores’s margin of 9,971 belies his virtual walk-in-the-park in the elections just past, given that in percentage terms, he took some 74 percent of the votes.
In Floridablanca, Darwin Manalansan frustrated the comeback bid of three-termer Eddie Guerrero by 5,350 votes, replicating his victory in 2016 over Guerrero’s daughter.
Dagi Salalila held off his elder brother Art, once three-termer too, in Sta. Rita by 1,098 votes. Sibling rivalry anew in 2022?
Yet another comeback blocked was that of the multi-titled Lina Bagasina. The former ALE partylist representative, once hailed as “Sasmoan’s Cinderella,” and once dubbed “Bea Alonzo of Pampanga” was ably resisted by Nardo Velasco with only 799 votes.
In Sta. Ana, the 215 margin of Mayor Norberto “Ross” Gamboa is too slim to pass off unchallenged in next polls.
Indeed, 2016’s losers can be 2019’s winners. As in Candaba where Rene Maglanque avenged his loss to Boy Baylon by 1,146 votes; and in Magalang where Romy Pecson got back at his nemesis Malu Lacson by the closest margin of 27 measly votes!
Jun Tetangco breezed through the polls to get back the Apalit town hall, after but a single term absence.
Dr. Jay Sagum allowed his successor Asyong Macapagal three full terms before taking back the San Luis mayorship by 5,028 votes over a single rival.
Zorro’s back on the saddle. Yeah, Bobong Flores, unarguably the most senior of all Pampanga mayors, made the greatest comeback – having been out of office for the longest time, and suffering defeat in the hands of his own sister. Only to reclaim his Macabebe turf this time, against yet another sibling.
Unopposed winner in her first try at an elective post is Lubao’s Esmie Pineda with 55,546 votes.
Pre-poll “sure winner” Digos Canlas, once three-term mayor of San Simon, lost to upstart Jun Punsalan by 144 votes.
Jing Capil with his 24,945 proved a giant killer of sorts with his utter demolition of former Pampanga governor and TIEZA general manager Mark Lapid whose votes failed to reach five figures, dead last in a contest of three.
Vice no more
Two vice mayors relegated to also-rans in previous mayoralty polls made their progression good this time.
Diman Datu put a definitive finis to the Pampanga’s Best rule in Bacolor, trouncing the outgoing mayor’s brother Derrick Hizon by 7,338 votes.
Gloria “Ninang” Ronquillo became the first lady mayor of Sto. Tomas, nosing out her husband’s once factotum Johnny Sambo by 171 votes.
Different folks of different strokes made this eclectic Class of 2019 of Pampanga’s local chief executives. Linked though by the common thread of the Pineda connection, in one way or the other.