BY DOMINIQUE GABRIEL G. BAÑAGA
A total of 797 candidates are eyeing different local positions in Negros Occidental, including its capital Bacolod City. They started campaigning in the fifth most “vote-rich” province in the country (with 1,889,200 million registered voters) yesterday, March 29.
In the gubernatorial race, there are two candidates – incumbent Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson of the unified Love Negros and United Negros Alliance and Atty. Rolandon Parpa, an independent candidate.
Former 4th district representative Jeffrey Ferrer, meanwhile, is running unopposed for vice governor.
Twenty candidates are running for provincial board members, 74 for mayors, 64 for vice mayor, and 675 for city and municipal council members.
There are 11 candidates vying for seven House seats representing Negros Occidental, including the lone district of Bacolod City.
Three out of these 11 candidates are unopposed.
One of them is Jose Francisco Benitez, current president of Philippine Women’s University. He is running for Negros Occidental 3rd District representative.
Jose Francisco is the younger brother of incumbent Negros Occidental 3rd District representative Alfredo Benitez of Love Negros, who is now on his third and last term in the position.
The 3rd District covers the cities of Talisay, Silay, and Victorias and the municipalities of Murcia and E.B. Magalona.
Ma. Lourdes “Marilou” Arroyo-Lesaca – sister-in-law of House Speaker and former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo – is also unopposed for the 5th District representative seat.
Arroyo-Lesaca served as Kasangga party-list representative from 2007 to 2010.
The 5th District covers Himamaylan City and the towns of Hinigaran, Binalbagan, Isabela, La Castellana, and Moises Padilla.
Incumbent 2nd District representative Leo Rafael Cueva – who is seeking reelection for a third term – has also no opponent.
The 2nd district covers the cities of Sagay and Cadiz and Manapla town.
In the 1st District, San Carlos City mayor Gerardo Valmayor, Ernesto Librando and Romulo Guion are running for representative.
In the 4th District, incumbent representative Juliet Marie Ferrer is running against Ann Joan Lenling and Enrique Erobas.
In 6th District, former vice governor Genaro Alvarez Jr. is running against Joaquin Bilbao.
Bacolod City lone district representative Greg Gasataya is seeking reelection against former mayor Monico Puentevella, who also served as congressman before./DGB, WDJ