May 23, 2024

Campaign trail in most parts of the Cordillera, especially in Baguio City and Benguet, has been stepped up during the last few days ahead of the May 9 elections with no other candidate withdrawing from the race to endorse their rivals.

The campaign period officially ended on May 7, as the Commission on Elections is expecting another high turnout from the 1,077,900 registered voters in the Cordillera. In the 2016 presidential elections, the Cordillera posted a voters’ turnout of 83.40 percent.

Candidates who were not among those endorsed by a religious group known for its bloc voting were more visible in caucuses and rallies with three days left before the end of the campaign period. Although only the national candidates endorsed by the Iglesia ni Cristo were officially announced, voters have an idea who among the local candidates were endorsed by the religious group.

In Baguio, not a single candidate has officially announced withdrawing from the race to endorse other candidates.

Majority of the candidates in Baguio endorsed by the INC are the incumbent and comebacking officials.

In Benguet, congressional candidate Victorio Palangdan was reported to have condemned the tricks employed by supporters of his rivals, as he asserted in all his campaign sorties there is no reason for him to withdraw.

In the northern town of Buguias, disinformation that Palangdan is backing out from the race was disseminated to voters.

This, after he confirmed he was being offered millions in exchange for his withdrawal from the race.

Palangdan was quoted as saying he and vice gubernatorial bet Ericson “Tagel” Felipe have been gaining ground in their day-to-day campaign in the 13 towns of Benguet.

Felipe is also closely matching incumbent Vice Gov. Johnny Waguis in private initiated surveys, of which results were posted in social media platforms.

Another congressional bet, Thorsson Keith, for his part, has claimed in his social media posts that he is also leading in surveys but scant details is available about the surveys.

Benguet caretaker Eric Go Yap and Gov. Melchor Diclas are consistently leading the surveys done by one Sigma Statistical Research Consultancy Services.

Allegations of vote buying incidents are being reported in some areas of Benguet, but the Comelec has not received any formal complaint.

In Mountain Province, incumbent Rep. Maximo Dalog, Jr. reportedly got the endorsement of a group of young professionals for having sponsored 119 bills during his first term. 

The endorsement came after Dalog’s former political rivals consolidated their weight behind former Sabangan mayor Jupiter Dominguez who, for the fifth time, is contesting the lone slot of the province’s congressional district.

In Abra, no other candidate has withdrawn from the race after seven councilors in Pilar, who are under the slate of siblings Mayor Mark Roland Somera and Vice Mayor Jaja Josefina Somera-Disono, withdrew from the race days after the two-day standoff between the police and the camp of Disonos.

Meanwhile, the final testing and sealing of the vote count machines was conducted days before the May 9 elections.

Comelec-Cordillera reported there are 6,926 established precincts for the 1,177 barangays in 75 municipalities and two cities in the region for the May 9 polls. – Harley F. Palangchao