THE most awaited political duel in Dagupan is set. But even as the campaign season is still more than four months away, dirty tricks have already began to surface.
Vice Mayor Belen Fernandez is challenging re-electionist Mayor Benjamin Lim in the May 2013 election in Dagupan City.
In the last hours of the filing of certificates of candidacy last Friday, Lim submitted his application together with his running mate, businessman Alex Siapno under the Nacionalista Party.
However, known allies of Mayor Lim, meanwhile, also reportedly rushed the filing of the COC of one “Belen T. Fernandez”, a namesake of the vice mayor, close to the deadline as a mayoralty candidate.
Observers laughed off the scheme as a copycat of the discredited Arroyo administration’s plot when it fielded a “Peter Cayetano” in a bid to foil the senatorial bid of then candidate Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano. The fake candidate was eventually disqualified as a nuisance candidate and the real candidate won a seat in the senate.
The vice mayor’s camp is expected to protest the entry of her namesake as a nuisance candidate.
Also on Friday afternoon, Fernandez with running mate Michael Fernandez under the Liberal Party ticket, filed their COCs at the Commission on Election (Comelec) office with the backing of influential political clans in the city, including former House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. with his wife, re-electionist Fourth District Rep. Gina de Venecia, former Mayor Alipio Fernandez, former Vice Mayor Teodoro Manaois III, former Pangasinan Vice Governor Gonzalo T. Duque, Atty. Liberato Reyna Jr. and Aurora Samson-Reyna.
In her brief talk with local media after filing her COC, Fernandez said, “Today we come together to start a new chapter in Dagupan City’s history. Today, the foremost political families in Dagupan City, the De Venecias, the Fernandezes, the Reynas, the Manaoises, the Duques, the Samsons have joined efforts with only one goal in mind and in heart: To bring Dagupan City back to its former glory.”
The others in the Fernandez-Fernandez ticket are re-electionist Councilors Maybelyn Fernandez and Jeslito Seen, former Councilors Jose Netu Tamayo and Alfredo Quinto Sr., Marlyn Manaois-Reyna, Barangay Kapitans Saysi Samson and Marvin Fabia; and Solo de Venecia who is still in the United States.
Two others two who filed earlier were re-electionists Councilors Alfie Fernandez and Liberato Karlos Reyna IV.
Of the 10 candidates for councilor under the Fernandez-Fernandez tandem, only Manaois-Reyna belongs to the Nationalist People’s Coalition.
In the Lim-Siapno slate are re-electionist Councilors Jesus Canto, Redford Mejia, Alvin Coquia and Guillermo Vallejos; former Councilor Pacoy Torio, City hall executive assistant Beep-beep Tan, Barangay Kapitan Lilia Yasar, Roberto Llamas, Shekinah Gapuz, newscaster Orly Navarro (all NP members); Ruby Sta. Maria-Cansino and Marianne Ang, independents.
Lim’s son Brian, a first-termer councilor, who was earlier expected to file his candidacy for vice mayoralty did not file a COC but observers believe he would be substituting Siapno in December.
Meanwhile, in a statement issued by the City Information Office, the mayor said, “As I’ve always said, I am already fulfilled as a person, father, public servant and businessman, but my age tells me to do something more about preparing a much better future for the youths and the generations after them.”
LP VEEM BET
In the Fernandez camp, former Mayor Fernandez, chairman of the LP in Dagupan, was instrumental in patching up the rivalry for the vice mayoralty post between his son Alfie and his nephew Michael.
Up until Thursday night, there was a stalemate between the two Fernandez boys on who will team up with Vice Mayor Fernandez.
Michael is a son of the former mayor’s younger brother, Atty. Alex Fernandez.
Former Speaker De Venecia described the Fernandez-Fernandez tandem as an “anti-corruption ticket, a united good governance ticket” and said it is supported by President Benigno Aquino III.—with report from Eva Visperas