By URIEL C. QUILINGUING
Contributing Editor .
ABOUT half of the 62 candidates for 20 elective posts in Cagayan de Oro in the May 13 elections are virtually unknown in local politics — and to the city’s voters.
“Many (candidates) are not known to voters,” said National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) Cagayan de Oro chapter chairperson Nestor Banuag Jr. during a meeting on Monday at Xavier University to prepare for a series of candidates’ fora, under the auspices of Lambigit Igsoon para sa Hiniusang Pag-uswag sa atong Katilingban Movement (Lihuk).
Banuag, Lihuk Movement lead convener, said the city’s 345,358 registered voters deserve to know who the candidates are, hence they have set the candidates’ fora on April 16 for city councilors, April 23 for district representatives, and April 30 for city mayor and vice mayor, and these will be held at Xavier University Little Theater.
Twenty-nine or roughly 47 percent of all 62 official candidates are having their “baptism of fire” in the political exercises.
An official list from the Commission on Elections shows that the two district congressional seats for the House of Representatives are being contested by three candidates each, including first district reelectionist Rep. RolandoUy. Incumbent second district Rep. Maximo Rodriguez Jr. , will be serving his full three three-year term until June 30 this year and his older brother, former congressman Rufus Rodriguez, is seeking a fresh mandate.
Aside from current Mayor Oscar Moreno, who is seeking his last and final term, three others are contesting his leadership and one of them is a former agriculture undersecretary Jose Gabriel La Viña.
Former mayor Vicente Emano is seeking the vice mayorship this time — a post he once held for three years — wishes to unseat Vice Mayor Rainer Joaquin Uy.
Aside from two members of the City Council, namely Annie Daba and Nadya Emano-Elipe, whose third and final terms would end in June, all 14 other incumbent local legislators are seeking fresh mandates.
Thirty-eight others, composed of newcomers, former City Council members and barangay chairpersons, are in the campaign trail for 16 seats, eight each in the first and second districts.
Voters from the city’s 80 barangays are listed in 401 clustered precincts and they will be casting their ballots in 60 voting centers, according to city election officer Ramil Acol.
He said Lihuk is inviting the public, particularly multisectoral leaders, including the media, to listen and participate in scrutinizing who the candidates are, their political platform and their vision for the city.
Aside from the candidates’ fora, Lihuk has conducted the candidates briefing for Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental in coordination with the local offices of the Commission on Elections and the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
“We have been working closely with the Comelec, the city police office and DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) in the Operation Baklas for oversized and misplaced campaign propaganda materials,” Banuag said.
He said information and photos from concerned citizens of non-compliant campaign materials contribute in ensuring a clean, honest, accurate, meaningful and peaceful (Champ) elections.
Lihuk Movement, which was organized in 2016, is composed of non-partisan election watchdogs, among them are Namfrel, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPRCV), Xavier University, Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, Clean 10 amateur radio group, Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC), and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) Cagayan de Oro Chapter.