DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines – Perhaps one of the biggest upsets in Pangasinan politics that happened on election day as two Espino scions, both political bigwigs in their own right, lost to their respective challenges.
Pangasinan Governor Amado “Pogi” Espino III lost to 5th District Representative Ramon Guico III, who won with 885,272 votes in the province’s gubernatorial race. Espino got 697,465 votes – 187,807 less than Guico’s.
The governor’s brother, Pangasinan 2nd District Representative Jumel Anthony “Cong J” Espino, lost his reelection bid to the recently-moved alien Mark Cojuangco. Cojuangco got 150,472, while Jumel got 135,888 votes – a difference of 14,584 votes.
Guico and Cojuangco were both proclaimed by the local board of canvassers as winners in their races.
The Guico-Lambino political coalition, dubbed Alyansang Guico-Lambino (Aguila), along with its partners and party mates managed to take most of the congressional seats in the province.
In the 1st District, Art Celeste will succeed his brother, Arnold, at the House of Representatives, beating former Pangasinan governor Oscar Orbos. Celeste got 155,372 votes while Orbos obtained only 82,983 votes.
Congressman Arnold Celeste, however, lost his mayoral bid in Agno town to reelectionist Mayor Gualberto Sison.
Sangguniang Panlalawigan Members Nong Fontelera and Apol Bacay, who received 115,366 and 106,387 votes, respectively, are also part of the Guico-Lambino political coalition.
Team Aguila also dominated the local races in Bolinao, hometown of the Celeste brothers. Aside from Bolinao, other towns in the district where Team Aguila dominated the local races were in Anda, Bani, Dasol, Infanta, and Mabini.
While Cojuangco bested Jumel Espino in the 2nd District congressional contest, a majority of the Espinos’ allies won in towns in the district, save for Binmaley and Labrador towns.
Bugallon still had Priscilla Espino, wife of patriarch Amado Jr., as town mayor. She won over challenger Ric Orduña with a 1,644-vote margin.
The Board Member position in the district was divided between Aguila’s Philip Cruz who got 122,633 votes, and API party list’s Haidee Pacheco who bagged 113,187 votes.
Pangasinan 3rd District Representative Rachel Baby Arenas (PDP-Laban) and 4th District Representative Toff De Venecia (Lakas-CMD) were reelected, winning by a landslide over their rivals.
Espino-backed mayoral candidates in the 3rd District – except for those in Bayambang and Calasiao – won.
Bayambang candidates of Team Aguila, led by Niña Jose-Quiambao won straight.
Calasiao’s Mamilyn Caramat, wife of Caraga police chief Brigadier General Romeo Caramat, and running mate Kevin Roy Macanlalay, won as mayor and vice mayor respectively. The town’s Sangguniang Bayan member seats, however, are dominated by the Espino’s allies in API.
In Dagupan City, an independent component city, Belen Fernandez sealed her mayoral comeback by trouncing Mayor Brian Lim. Her nephew, reelectionist Vice Mayor Bryan Kua, also crushed rival Carlos Aliio Fernandez.
In Manaoag, former Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member Jeremy Agerico Rosario narrowly defeated Vice Mayor Domy Ching in the mayoral race. Rosario got 16,117 votes while Ching got 15, 961 votes, or a difference of just 156 votes.
In Mangaldan, Bonafe de Vera-Parayno made a political comeback as town mayor, defeating Marillyn Lambino, mother of Vice Governor Mark Lambino and wife of Raul Lambino. Former police chief Arturo Lomibao also lost in the mayoral race.
In the 5th District, cousins Rammy and Jing Parayno won as Urdaneta City mayor and vice mayor, respectively. Their allies in the council won six out of 10 seats.
The 5th District remains a bailiwick of the Espinos, save for Pozorrubio, Sison, and Binalonan town, home of the Guicos.
Ramon Guico Jr. succeeded his son as 5th District representative, succeeding his son.
The Primicias family still reigned supreme in the 6th District, as Marlyn Primicias-Agabas succeeded her husband Tyrone as congressional representative.
Tyrone won in the Tayug mayoral race main contender Carlos Trece Mapili. Alicia Primicias-Enriquez and Lorna Primicias-Tacdol, also won as San Nicolas mayor and Tayug vice mayor, respectively.
The Espinos and their allies said they were ready to accept defeat in grace, if it was a “clean and fair” election.
This was the opening statement of Nelson Gayo, API secretary-general, in a press conference on Tuesday morning, May 10, who openly accused their rivals of poll irregularities, citing complaints they received from various people.
Amado Espino Jr., API chair, said they will file a complaint regarding this. He believed a manual recount was in order, as he called the May 9 electoral process “bastardized.”
In response, Guico III’s Team Aguila said in a press conference on Wednesday that the vote-counting machines used in the province were the same ones that showed Espino’s API party list poised to win a congressional seat.
“Kung questionable iyong pagkapanalo namin, questionable din ang pagkapanalo ng API,” said the governor-elect. (If our win is questionable, then so is the win of API.)
They said they would welcome complaints filed against them. – Rappler.com
Ahikam Pasion is a Luzon-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.