Bong Lacson, Jeffrey Ferrer runaway winners in Negros Occidental

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Top officials of Negros Occidental were proclaimed winners of their respective races on Wednesday, May 11.

Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson of the Nationalist People’s Coalition and Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer of the National Unity Party have secured fresh mandates for second terms with wide margins over their challengers.

The governor finished with 933,572 votes against the former Bacolod City administrator John Orola of Pederalismo ng Dugong Dangakilang Samahan (PDDS), who only managed 57,701 votes even after securing the endorsement of President Rodrigo Duterte. Independent candidate Maria Socorro Sibulan got 16,534.

Lacson is among the few provincial officials who declared support for the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo.

Ferrer, the main campaigner of UniTeam presumptive president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. And running mate Sara Duterte in the province, garnered 816,938 votes against his rival, independent candidate Jonry Gargarita with 70,374.

Both Lacson and Ferrer coalesced their two local blocs, Love Negros and United Negros Alliance, and campaigned for each other despite their different presidential bets.

They issued consistent calls for Negrenses to respect each other’s choices and not let national preferences affect their local votes.

Both officials expressed optimism for greater progress in the province with the proclamation on Tuesday, March 10 of former congressman Alfredo “Albee” Benitez as the winner in Bacolod’s mayoral race.

“The almost unanimous vote given to us by the Negrense is a manifestation of the approval of what we have done in the past three years, and we will take this as an inspiration and a reminder that we should continue to do even better,” Lacson reporters told after the proclamation.

Lacson and Ferrer said they are expecting better synergy and cooperation between the province and its independent and highly-urbanized capital city. Province officials and local executives cited this reason 2021 as they staged an display of support for a candidate in the independent city.

Ferrer said he met with Lacson, Benitez, and winning 6th District congressional bet Mercedes Alvarez on the sides of the proclamation, to discuss how to push their One Negros Region dream to become law.

“It needs to be a law,” Ferrer said at a press conference, referring to the ups and downs of that dream, which was a short-lived reality: It was born in 2015 through an executive order of then-President Benigno Aquino III but his successor, President Rodrigo Duterte, dissolved the Negros Island Region in 2017.

WINNERS. Bacolod City mayor-elect Albee Benitez and Negros Occidental Governor Bong Lacson, who supported his race in the independent capital city, in a light moment on the sidelines of the proclamation of provincial election winners. (Ronnie Baldonado)

Four unopposed congressional candidates, including 6th District Representative Mercedes Alvarez, were also proclaimed as winners.

The other three were 1st District Representative Gerardo Valmayor, former 2nd District representative Alfredo Marañon, and 4th District Representative Juliet Marie Ferrer, wife of the vice governor.

Benitez’s brother, Francisco Benitez, also won his reelection bid as representative of the 3rd District, with 204,301 votes against Bernard Ferraris who only secured 16,967.

In the province’s 5th District, Representative Marilou Arroyo, sister-in-law of former president Gloria Arroyo and sister of the late congressman. Ignacio Arroyo, lost candidate to former vice governor Emilio Yulo III, who ran as an independent

Yulo garnered 118,558 votes, while Arroyo finished with 76,115 votes.

Other unopposed winners were the 11 mayoral bets, including nine incumbents, in the province:

  • Mayor Nicholas Yulo of Bago City
  • Mayor John Rey Tabujara of Cauayan
  • Mayor Marvin Malacon of EB Magalona
  • Mayor John Paul Alvarez of Ilog
  • Mayor Manuel Escalante of Manapla
  • Mayor Jose Maria Alonso of Pontevedra
  • Enzo Suatengco of Pulupandan
  • Vice Mayor Narciso Javelosa of Sagay City
  • Mayor Marxlen Dela Cruz of Salvador Benedicto
  • Mayor Renato Gustilo of San Carlos City
  • Mayor Gina Lizares of Sipalay City

Most of them belong to political dynasties with multiple family members serving simultaneously.

Family affair

Other winning mayoral and vice mayoral candidates in the province’s nine towns and cities were family tandems: parent and child, husband and wife, and siblings.

Isabela Mayor Irene Montilla won her reelection bid while son Juan Miguel Montilla was elected vice mayor.

In La Castellana, Mayor Rhumyla Nicor-Mangilimutan was reelected while her father, former mayor Alberto Nicor ​​Jr., was elected as vice mayor.

Binalbagan Mayor Alejandro Mirasol was successful in his reelection bid while wife Mary Ann Mirasol won as vice mayor.

In Hinigaran, Mayor Nadie Arceo was reelected, while wife Mary Grace Arceo was elected as vice mayor.

Unopposed sibling candidates in Sipalay City, Ilog, and Salvador Benedicto also won their reelection bids: Mayor Ma. Gina Lizares and Vice Mayor Oscar Montilla Jr. of Sipalay City, Mayor Paul Alvarez and Vice Mayor Genaro Rafael Alvarez of Ilog, and Mayor Marxlen Dela Cruz and Vice Mayor Nehemiah Dela Cruz Jr. of Salvador Benedicto.

In Pulupandan, Enzo Suatengco, who replaced his father mayoral candidate Antonio Suatengco who died in February 2022, won unopposed, while cousin Mayor Miguel Peña won as vice mayor without a challenger.

Albee Benitez’s son, Javi Benitez, also won as mayor of Victorias City, while his uncle, Jun Bantug, was deputy mayor.

Two mayors lost their reelection bids.

Silay City Mayor Mark Golez, who was gunning for his third and final term, lost to former vice mayor Joedith Gallego, who won with 37,643 votes to the incumbent’s 34,725.

Kabankalan City Mayor Pedro Zayco fell to rival Barangay Tan-awan kagawad Benjie Miranda, with just 200 votes separating them.

Miranda finished with 36,889 votes and Zayco with 36,611. –

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