Incumbents must account

By October 4, 2021Punchline

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


THE time for reckoning is here for all incumbent local officials.

There is no doubt that the main issue in this local election is about performance amid the pandemic.

The inept and incompetent incumbents seeking reelection will be called on to account for their lackluster performance particularly how they delivered and served their constituents from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to the next six months. They, more than anyone, the incumbents will expectedly be on the defensive, parrying accusations of failing to serve and protect communities in the barangays.

Meanwhile, the incumbents’ detractors will certainly have a field day making their constituents remember what the incumbents failed to do. Unfortunately for the incompetent incumbents, there are statistics that will prove them ineffectual since 2020, i.e., how many died because of their mishandling of the pandemic, when and how the surge in active cases happened, how many did not receive their special allotment cash due them, etc.

Sure, the incumbents still have opportunities in the next six months to recover from their missteps but these will only fuel allegations about their negligence in the recent past, and   will illustrate as proofs that any help today and tomorrow will already be in aid of election, no longer an expression of dedication to public service.

Ahh…but the incumbents can also turn the table on their detractors opposing them in this election. They will be asked – “Anong ginawa mo para makatulong sa bayan?”

Touché. But that’s politics today in the New Normal! Accountability can no longer be denied and hidden behind fake smiles.

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COVID-19 AND CAMPAIGN. Watch out for a spike in COVID cases involving candidates and their campaign teams in the next six months.  

There is no way candidates can invoke social distancing protocol when meeting large groups of asymptomatic supporters who may not be aware that they are carriers. Worse, how can they stop supporters from showing up in their homes? 

Will they shoo away supporters and prospective allies who come to show their support without wearing face masks?  That’d be suicidal in politics but deadly risks at this time to be exposed to them! 

Because COVID knows no barrier, can incumbent city/town officials be expected to consistently objective and impartial in extending both medical cash assistance to COVID-infected constituents who are known to be rabid and loyal supporters of the opposition? 

It’d be instructive for the provincial IATF to provide guidelines to sustain gains in the campaign vs. COVID during the campaign period.

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CAYETANO’S VISION. Former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s declaration a day before the start of the filling of certificates of candidacy that he is not seeking the presidency caught many by surprise, particularly those who thought that his P10K ayuda program was a prelude to his presidency bid.

What his detractors refused to see was his intent to show government how families can be helped to survive the COVID onslaught’s impact.

He pleaded with the House of Representatives to adopt the concept of his P10-K ayuda per family who lost their livelihood over the P1K per person dole-out practice but to no avail.

Perhaps with his declaration that he is not seeking the presidency, the bicameral conference will realize that his vision is, indeed, not in aid of his presidential bid but a practical solution to the mitigate the impact of the pandemic and will seek to support his appeal.

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SPECULATIONS IN THE CITY. In Dagupan City, as of this writing, I hasten to speculate that without anyone filing his/her certificate of candidacy for posts in Dagupan City, it will be a one-on-one return match for Mayor Brian Lim and former Mayor Belen Fernandez.  

Since majority in the Dagupan City Council are allies of Mayor Belen, her slate will remain formidable.  Expected to run as her running-mate (for VM) is reelectionist Bryan Kua. Candidates in their slate will expectedly be Councilors Michael Fernandez, Chito Samson, Karlos Reyna, Tess Coquia, Dennis Canto, Marcelino Fernandez and Jigs Seen, Alvin Coquia and Nick Aquino making a comeback. 

That leaves only Councilors Dada Reyna-Macalanda, Cisco Flores and Celia Lim (if she will not come forward as VM to her son Brian) in Brian’s slate. Possible addition to his slate will be former councilors Red Erfe-Mejia and Alfie Fernandez or his younger brod, former Vice Mayor Alvin.  

With Dagupan City consistently tagged as having the most number of COVID cases in Pangasinan since the start of the pandemic, Brian’s felt absence and lack of initiatives to contain the contagion in the city, his chances for reelection appears dim.  

In contrast, Belen has been quietly helping in the barangays without the fanfare.

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HANDS DOWN. In the Fourth District, Cong. Toff de Venecia is out to finish his mission in his third term. Somehow, the rumored plan of Sec. Raul Lambino to give Cong Toff some competition in 2022 does not appear to have taken roots in the past months. Any newcomer, outside of Raul, will surely not have a chance of taking away 5% of votes away from Toff.

The Arenas mother-and-daughter tandem in the Third District remains strong as ever. Rachel is back after she was replaced by her mom, now Deputy Speaker Baby, as she was about to take off for her second term. The talk in the district is Rachel might run unopposed.

In the provincial race, 5th District Cong. Mon Guico is dead set to give Gov. Pogi some competition. His tarps already surfaced in many places ahead of everyone who have moist eyes on any elective post in the province. But it will still be quite a challenge to offset Pogi’s gains for the last 5 years. On the other hand, a vision well-articulated may just do the job for him.

In Lingayen, Mayor Pol Bataoil has enough people-programs under this belt and the integrity to go with these to bank on that will certainly keep other politicos in the town at bay. He might end up running unopposed.

The same can be said in Binmaley town where Mayor Simplicio Rosario holds sway over the years.

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BEAUTEOUS MISS UNIVERSE PANGASINAN. Pangasinenses have another reason to celebrate another beautiful personality. Miss Universe Pangasinan, Maureen Christa Wroblewitz, almost romped away with the main title but had to settle for First-runner up of Miss Universe Philippines title in the end.

Maureen, 23 years old, is actually a Filipino-German actress  born in Saudi Arabia, and a model best known for winning the 5th season of Asia’s Next Top Model. She represented the Philippines in the competition and became the first Filipina to win. Her parents are Mariefe Pojas and Matt Wroblewitz. 

Her feat was certainly not easy, being up against ladies who are equally talented and beautiful.   

She did us proud! Surely, the provincial government can demonstrate in the weeks ahead how proud Pangasinan is of her.

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