By Leonardo Micua
AS of Friday, October 12, both Governor Amado Espino III and Alaminos City Mayor Arthur Celeste, probably the only protagonists in the gubernatorial race in next year’s election, still kept their respective cards close to their chests by refusing to divulge their respective running-mates.
When asked by newsmen in an ambush interview on October 10, who his running-mate will be, after confirming that he and his father, Fifth District Congressman Amado Espino Jr., are running for reelection and not switching posts, the governor, quipped and whispered in silence the word, “SECRET!”
Mayor Art was among the early birds to file a CoC for governor as soon as the Provincial Comelec office opened in the morning of October 11, but without a running-mate with him, except his brother Arnold who is running for congressman in the first district to replace elder sibling Congressman Jesus Celeste, and Donabel Fontelera, a candidate for board member, also NP.
Also with them was former Espino ally, Second District Board Member Raul Sison who filed his CoC for congressman reportedly against the governor’s brother, Jumel, the incumbent mayor of Bugallon town.
The Celestes and BM Sison are running under the Nacionalista Party.
There were reports that former Cong. Mark Cojuangco agreed to pair with Celeste but there are doubts whether the son of Boss Danding will take the position of a vice governor, because it’s too minor a position for him.
Recall that Cong. Mark lost to the Guv Pogi by a wide margin in the last election and next year’s polls could give him the chance to get even with his former tormentor.
What puzzled us no end is why he let his ally Celeste run for the highest post in the province when he has the resources to use in the coming election?
He, too, could have run for congressman and retake his old seat in the Fifth District. But his close ally, Binalonan Mayor Ramon Guico III, was faster and beat him to the draw by declaring his intention to challenge incumbent Congressman Espino.
Methinks, instead of gunning for a local position, Cong. Mark should run in the Senate where he has a bigger chance to land in the magic 12 as he has the limitless resources of the family to run a national campaign
He can be the lone candidate of Pangasinan in the Senate which I suppose all Pangasinenses–even the Espinos– will support.
Beside, his inclusion in the NPC slate could easily be considered since the party was founded by his father Danding sometime in early 1990s.
With Mark as senator, he can be the one we had long been looking for to articulate the concerns of the Pangasinenses in the august chamber, since resigned ex-PCOO Asec Mocha Uson decided to forego her senatorial ambition in favor of running for Congress.
Back to the gubernatorial fight, it seems certain that, it will be a showdown between the Espinos and Celestes with the latter clan probably having the solid backings of the Cojuangcos.
It will also be a clash between two parties, the Espino’s ruling PDP Laban and the Nacionalista Party which is allied with the Cojuangco-led NPC.
Also , it will be a clash between the east, where the Espinos hold sway and the west where the Celestes rule.
In the last election, Pogi Espino lost to Mark in the first district but rallied by sweeping all other five districts of Pangasinan.
We’ll wait and see what happens in this coming election as Art Celeste may be a lot better politician than Mark.
In the upcoming battle royale between two families, we have not yet heard the voice of First District Cong. Jesus ‘Boying” Celeste, elder brother of Arthur, and a close ally of Cong. Espino in the House of Representatives who I suppose is also PDP Laban after vaulting from the NPC, if he has not already switched to another party.
With brother Arnold running for congressman in his place, Boying may opt to run for a lower position, that’s probably to his old post as mayor of Bolinao. On the other hand, a son of Art is bent on replacing him as mayor of Alaminos City.
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As of this writing, none has filed his or her CoC before the city election office at city hall, according to City Election Officer Erickson Oganiza.
Maybe Mayor Belen Fernandez with his running-mate Liga ng Barangay chairman Bryan Kua as well as Vice Mayor Brian Lim and his rumored runningmate, former Councilor Alfie Fernandez, will troop to the city election office with their respective candidates for councilor next week from October 15 to 17.
The team of the mayor, we were informed, stands on the issue of performance, topped by its core program Unli-Serbisyo.
Brian’s team presents to the Dagupan people an alternative program and the need for reform.
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