Thursday, April 25, 2013

2013 Elections: The Quezon City Races

With the elections less than a month away, the campaigning becomes more frenzied, as candidates try to win as many brownie points from the voting populace to improve their standing. In the national elections, it appears that the triumvirate power of UNA's Binay, Estrada and Ponce Enrile, is only really strong enough to pull in their children to the Senate; the current popularity of the President seems to be an effective foil.

In the local elections, I'm more interested in the races in Quezon City, since I am a long-time resident. There will be no fight for the leaders of the city, as no credible opponent was foolhardy enough to challenge the partnership of Mayor Herbert Bautista and Vice-Mayor Joy Belmonte, and with good reason. The pair seems to have made the most of their three years in office, and have proven to be effective leaders; thus, it would be a waste of time and money for a candidate to challenge them at this point.

The congressional races provide slightly more interest, as the once-large second district has been carved up into more manageable districts; instead of four, QC will now have six districts. The realignment of forces will be interesting to watch this May.

Of these six, the new fifth district, which covers Novaliches and parts of Fairview, will be the most interesting to watch, since it will be a three-way battle between two former representatives and an actor-turned-councilor. Former representatives Dante Liban (now with UNA) and Annie Susano (KKK) will face off against 2nd district councilor Alfred Vargas (LP). It's likely that Vargas will have the inside track, as Liban looks to be a spent political force, and Susano has always struck me as a bit whacked, although she will have the financial resources to put up a fight. It may go down the wire between Vargas and Susano.

The new second district, which remains the largest populated district despite being made up of only five barangays, will be another battlefield to watch, as the incumbent, Rep. Winston Castelo (LP), will face former 2nd district representative, Ismael "Chuck" Mathay III (Ind.), whose main source of recognition appears to be the father of actress Ara Mina. Mathay was ineffective when he was representative, so Castelo will probably have no problem winning the second district. 

The third district will also provide an entertaining battle, as former representative Mat Defensor (UNA) will face incumbent Jorge Banal (LP). Defensor's family has close ties with former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, as children Mike and Maita were also 3rd district representatives; Mike Defensor was even part of Arroyo's Cabinet. It appears he has decided to flit over to Binay's UNA, which makes me wonder what reason UNA will give for including another former Arroyo ally in its fold. I'm not too familiar with Banal, except for the fact that he used to be a councilor, that he is presenting himself as a strong reading advocate, and he was involved in producing evidence against impeached Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.

 The first district is basically a battle of dynasties, as the Rita Crisologo (UNA), the wife of outgoing representative Bingbong Crisologo, will be running against former representative and current councilor Francisco Calalay, Jr (LP). Calalay, however, will have to answer charges of having 'ghost' employees as a councilor, for which he was ordered suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman. While he and fellow councilor Roderick Paulate have managed to secure a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the suspension, the issue will likely haunt the congressional candidate (pun intended).

The fourth district looks to be a cakewalk for incumbent House Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte, Jr. (LP), who will face token opposition from a Hans Palacios (PMP), whose name doesn't seem to produce any useful material on Google. Belmonte, at this point, is just too powerful in his bailiwick.

The new sixth district has only one contender, Christopher "Kit" Belmonte, a nephew of current House Speaker and QC 4th district representative Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte, Jr. Belmonte came in second in the 2nd district election in 2010, so only a disqualification will stop him from becoming a congressman. I'm currently voting in the sixth district, so it makes my vote simpler, although I'll need to do a bit of research before I cast my vote for Belmonte.

All in all, the Quezon City electoral races will be a mix of old battles and new, with the creation of the two new districts. Admittedly, it will mean that the bureaucracy will grow larger with the addition of 2 more congressmen and 12 councilors, but the former second district is just too large to manage. Hopefully, the division will mean better services rendered to each district, but that will also depend on who will be elected. If it's just more of the same trapo, no real change can occur.

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