By URIEL C. QUILINGUING
Contributing Editor .
OUTGOING Rep. Peter Unabia of Misamis Oriental’s first district has revealed his plan to run for governor of the province in 2022, adding that his decision to seek Gingoog City’s vice mayoral seat in the May 13 elections was out of political expediency.
Unabia said he would serve as Gingoog vice mayor only for three years, after which he would seek the gubernatorial seat.
He said he had a “gentleman’s agreement” with Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano for the latter to stay in power at the capitol for a final three-year term.
Months before the campaign period begun, Emano made public Padayon Pilipino’s coalition with Unabia’s PDP-Laban group in the province and with the Guingonas in Gingoog who, for decades, were affiliated with the Liberal Party.
However, former mayor Ruthie de Lara Guingona and her daughter Marie, the incumbent city mayor whose final term would end in June 30, filed their respective candidacies for mayor and vice mayor under the Nacionalista Party instead.
“Wala man na sa akong plano nga mag vice mayor sa Gingoog,” said Unabia whose son Christian won the congressional post he would vacate July 1 this year.
He said he could have opted to run for Gingoog mayor but he did not want to challenge former mayor Ruthie de Lara Guigona out of long-standing friendship and respect.
“Kung mag-vice ko, makatabang ko kang Erick (Cañosa) isip mayor. Gawas pa niana, ang gusto nako makaatbang si Marie(Guingona),” Unabia said.
Unabia opined that the younger Guingona, for almost nine years, detached herself from the people, neglecting their basic economic needs and depriving them of vital health and welfare services.
True enough, both the Cañosa-Unabia tandem emerged victorious.
Official tally showed Cañosa, who was vice mayor for three terms, with 36,435 votes while Guingona (Ruthie) had 30,315 in the mayoral race. In the vice mayoral race, Unabia mustered 36,588 while Guingona (Marie) only had 29,533 votes.
But Unabia’s political savvy is being put to the test since his slate captured only three of the 10 city council seats, the legislative body where he would be presiding officer.
Those who ran under the country’s ruling party and won are newcomer and mayor-elect Erick Cañosa’s mother, Evelyn, who topped all local candidates with 40,277 votes, third-rank Marlon Kho had 37,451 and Roy Aniscal with 25,572 at ninth slot. Seven of those in top 10 ran under reelected senator Cynthia Villar’s National Party, namely: Thaddeus “Tadoy” Lugod (39,892), Winfred “Jun” Militante (36,522), April Rose Vosotros (31,433), Judeline Bernaldez (30,839), Jerome Mercado (30,298), Myrna Motoomull (28,754), and Conrado “Aljun” Gomez (25,234).
“I am optimistic that many, if not all of them, will eventually be with us,” said Unabia, adding that he has initial discussions with three other city council members, but opted not to identify them.
He said he is also appealing support from three sectoral representatives: Sangguniang Kabataan Federation president Fatima Grace Fabre Guanzon, Liga ng mga Barangay president Metodio Baldivino Jr., and indigenous people’s leader Estoriano Mandahinog, all sit in the city council as well.
“With the City Council, we can do so much, within three years, in the economic emancipation of Gingoog residents, anchored on agriculture and tourism development as well as in the delivery of basic services,” Unabia said.