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Let the games begin

By NITZ ARANCON
Correspondent .

WARRING political groups in the city and Misamis Oriental have opted to launch their campaigns for various local positions without much fanfare today, the first of over 40 gruelling days of campaigning.

Local candidates are now allowed to campaign based on election rules starting today until May 11, excluding Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

The Padayon Pilipino is organizing a proclamation rally in Lugait town in Misamis Oriental, and a caravan in Cagayan de Oro, along with its allies Centrist Democratic Party (CDP) and the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP). But even then, the Padayon Pilipino-CDP-HNP political activities today are expected to be modest vis-à-vis local campaign opening salvos of the past.

Florito “Carlo” Dugaduga, capitol spokesman, said the Padayon Pilipino candidates in the province led by Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano would be in Manticao town to shake hands with townsfolk before the Lugait rally.

But provincial board member Gerardo Sabal said he was unaware of the Padayon Pilipino’s itinerary today as of yesterday afternoon, adding that they have yet to meet last night.

This paper repeatedly tried but failed to get in touch with the group of Gov. Emano’s challenger, former vice governor Julio Uy of the National Unity Party (NUP), to ask about its plans today. Calls were unreturned, and there was no response to text messages sent as of presstime.

NUP candidate for congressman in the 1st District of the province, Vice Gov. Jose Mari Pelaez, said his group planned no big rally today “pero ang among mga political supporters mag-start na sa among postings sa mga lungsod  to inform the public that we are the candidates under sa National Unity Party.”

Pelaez said the NUP was organizing a big rally in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, on April 3.

The administration PDP-Laban in the city, the party of reelectionist Mayor Oscar Moreno, organized no big political event today.

City hall spokesperson Maricel Rivera said PDP-Laban’s opening salvo here would be a “simple” motorcade organized by former TV broadcaster Girlie Balabag, a candidate for councilor.

But the PDP-Laban would stage a political rally in Divisoria tomorrow afternoon after a 4 pm mass at the St. Augustine Cathedral. From the church, Moreno and his candidates would walk to Divisoria for their rally.

At 8:30 pm Saturday, “we will observe Earth Hour, and then the rally would resumed at 9:30 pm,” said Rivera.

Reelectionist Councilor Teodulfo Lao Jr., a member of Moreno’s so-called “Team Okka,” said his group decided to just attend at activity organized by the City Economic Enterprise Department (CEED) at Cogon market this morning.

“Our opening salvo will be tomorrow at Kiosko Kagawasan in Divisoria from 5 pm to 12 midnight,” Lao said.

Another reelectionist councilor, Romeo Calizo, said the politicial activities of PDP-Laban here are being organized by an executive committee.

“Mag-agad man lang mi sa maong executive committee,” Calizo said.

Former councilor Alexander Dacer, a Padayon Pilipino-CDP-HNP candidate for a city council seat, said his group organized a “simple” political caravan, and a pocket-size rally in Barangay Bugo this afternoon.

“Ginagmay ra usa ning amo kay ang mouban sa among caravan ma-o ra man sab ang among audience sa among gamay na rally sa Bugo,” Dacer said.

Nicole Managbanag, spokesperson of the group behind Moreno’s challenger, former Agriculture undersecretary Jose Gabriel La Viña, said the the Padayon Pilipino-CDP-HNP candidates would begin the day with a 3 am handshaking at Cogon market, a 9 am press conference, a 1 pm rally in Bulua, and a 2 pm caravan from Bulua to the Bugo gym where a 5 pm concert cum rally has been scheduled.

Managbanag said famous folk musician Freddie Aguilar, a senatorial candidate, would give a free concert.

“All candidates of the coalition from Districts 1 and 2 will participate… The simple activity is to  show the force and unity signifying that a ‘bag-ong Cagayan’ is within reach,” Managbanag said.

Another political group, the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, said it opted to begin the campaign by posting campaign materials but  tomorrow, the group would stage a political caravan starting from Barangay Patag.

“Dili sab ta-as ang atong caravan aron dili ta maka balda sa traffic,” said Mandangan Darimbang, a candidate for councilor.

The party is headed by Darimbang’s wife Lourdes, an ex-councilor, who filed her certificate of candidacy for mayor but withdrew even before the local campaign period could start. Despite her withdrawal, the PFP has continued to field local candidates, mostly for city council seats. (with reports from Herbie Gomez)

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