Albay Elections Not Exciting As Previous Years

A scene straight from Rizal street of Legaspi city.

By Manilyn Ugalde

Legazpi city, March 3 (PNA) –- The unfolding election episode in Albay this year is viewed as a boring one, with less excitement compared with the past electoral processes in the province and this city.

The local non-government organization Pipol Against Graft and Corruption (PAGC) said that the midterm elections on May 13, 2013 would be less exciting and less expensive with candidates for at least four major local positions running almost unopposed, and thus devoid of the usual thrill and drama.

Former Jovellar town mayor Jose Arcangel, Jr., PAGC president, said that the May 13 polls in the province and this city is due to the unopposed re-election bid of Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda and the opponents of two re-electionist congressmen, Fernando Gonzales (3rd District) and Al Francis Bichara (2nd District).

The first district has opposing candidates who are neophyte-rivals for the House posts although both are sons of prominent politicians — provincial Board Member Ricky, son of former senator Vic S. Ziga, and Quezon City councilor Edcel B. Lagman, Jr., son of representative Edcel C. Lagman.

Arcangel said Gonzalez’s rival is the mayor of Pio Duran town while Bichara is being contested by local broadcaster, Wally Magdasoc.

Both opponents of the two lawmakers have admitted having very little chances of winning against their giant rivals.

According to Magdasoc, he filed his candidacy to show to Bichara that not all voters in the second district are happy with, or convinced of his leadership.

Arcangel said that in this city, incumbent mayor Geraldine B. Rosal is finishing her first term, and her husband Noel Rosal, is come-backing unopposed.

Rosal was mayor for three terms and had fielded his wife during the 2010 elections. The wife clinched the mayoral post, while the husband took charge of the city administratorship. Like Salceda, the former Legazpi mayor also does not have an opponent.

“So there is not much life in the Albay elections this year,” Arcangel. “Even the local media find it dull and not challenging because of the lack of commercial transactions.”

“It’s a boring election and voters may not have the interest to come to the polling places to vote due to the absence of money circulating, unlike their usual experience in every election period,” said Johnny Dematera of Wow radio.

Arcangel said the more expensive elections held in Albay was in May 2007, six months after Typhoon “Reming” devastated the province on Nov. 30, 2006.

There was a big flow of money that even the issue of permit to campaign and permit to win from the New People’s Army became a very hot issue, he added.

He said the biggest event at that time was the contest between re-electionist governor, Gonzalez, and gubernatorial candidate, then Malacañang chief of staff and former three-term congressman, Salceda.

Gonzalez’s popularity, however, did not match with the logistics of Salceda, who surprisingly defeated the re-electionist governor.

A local political analyst said that running for public office without a rival is only good for the unopposed bet but less exciting for the electorate.

In Catanduanes province, a 20-year-old voter said he had received a total of P7,000 during the 2010 elections.

Despite having no opponent, however, Salceda’s jingles have continued to grace the air waves, being broadcast by radio stations in Albay, both AM and FM.

Salceda was considered as the darling of the media because of his being accommodating for news interviews.