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Vol. XX No. 52

March 7, 2001

Virac, Catanduanes

Major Developments

Poll bets ready for heated campaign

A total of 387 aspirants have filed their certificates of candidacy for 113 provincial and municipal posts at stake in the May 14 local elections, records of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) here showed.

In the provincial level, Viracnon CPA-lawyer Joseph A. Santiago, 35, of the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) heads a four-man contest for the congressional seat to be vacated by three-termer Rep. Leandro B. Verceles, Jr. (Lakas-NUCD-UMDP), who is fielding his wife, real estate trader Nathalie Africa-Verceles, 34, in his stead. The other aspirants are Virac businesswoman Yolanda Andes, 40, of PDP-Laban and Middle East hotelier Evelyn San Ramon-Yumol (LDP-PMP), 50, of Sioron, Gigmoto.

In the equally crucial battle for governor, 42-year old incumbent Gov. Hector S. Sanchez has his hands full trying to keep his seat from the hands of Rep. Verceles, former Gov. Severo C. Alcantara, Chronicle columnist Romeo T. Torres, Jr. and a certain Gregorio Verceles, 56.

In the race for presidency of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, the fate of incumbent Alfred M. Aquino, 43, will depend on whether two other Virac candidates - former Gov. Vicente M. Alberto and her niece, former Gov. Rosalie Alberto-Estacio - withdraw in favor of coalition candidate Atty. Cesar V. Sarmiento. Defeated 1992 congressional bet Justo Evangelista, 56, is the other aspirant.

Five incumbents - lawyer Evelyn Lucero-Gutierrez, former banker Rafael C. Zuniega, PCL president Rosie Panti-Olarte, accountant Fred A. Gianan, Jr. and `broadcaster' Catalino V. Gabao, Jr. - head a cast of 15 aspirants for provincial board member in the West district.

The others are San Andres SB member Renato A. Arcilla, retired SP secretary Roberto A. Lopez of Caramoran, and eight other from the capital town: retired RTC Judge Honesto V. Morales, alleged `lotteng' operator Natalio C. Popa of Virac, businessman Poldito V. Rodriguez, lawyer Arnel C. Sarmiento, architect Angeles V. Tablizo, Jr., businessman Manuel B. Tablizo, Jr., cooperative leader Antonio T. Tabuzo and retired police officer Eulogio M. Talaran, Jr.

In the East district, 12 candidates are gunning for the four seats including two incumbents - academic dean Edwin T. Tanael of Baras and Edgar T. Tapel of San Miguel. The others are retired DECS supervisor Julieto R. Barceta of Pandan, lawyer Miguel S. Concepcion of Viga, independent Jose T. de Leon, Jr. of Panganiban, Chronicle publisher Napoleon F. de Luna of Viga, businessman Rene C. Guerrero of Baras, former Viga vice mayor Roger F. Pereyra, civil engineer Amador A. Teston of Baras, FICELCO department head Pio P. Tubalinal of Bato, contractor Romeo O. Tuplano of Viga, and Bato SB member Rodolfo B. Vargas.

Two other SP incumbents - Carlos M. Aguilar and Lilia V. Evangelista - are running for SB member in Panganiban and Virac, respectively, as they already have served the three-term limit.

In the mayoral contests, six incumbents are up for reelection with two `retiring' chief executives fielding their own wives.

In Bagamanoc, Aksyon Demokratiko's incumbent Vincent V. Villaluna, 27, faces 65-year old US balikbayan Tito V. de Leon (Lakas-NUCD) while Vice Mayor Rustom S. Soledad (Aksyon) tries his hand at the top with businessman Jose J. Teves, Jr. (Lakas-NUCD) at the other end.

In Bato, incumbent Lorenzo T. Templonuevo, Jr. (Aksyon/Reporma) repeats his battle with former mayor Camilo R. Teope (Lakas). In contrast, it's a wide open race in Caramoran as one woman, current first lady Lourdes F. Idanan, faces five men - Vice Mayor Porfirio C. Bocaya, businessman Leopoldo D. Ereso, PBM Magin P. Isuela and El Shaddai money man Eligio V. Sales.

In Gigmoto, the widow of late Mayor Adolfo Sarmiento, Amparo, is up against incumbent Edgar M. Tayam and businessman Armando T. Guerrero. In Pandan, Vice Mayor Josefina E. Santelices (Reporma) tries to claim the prize that has eluded her twice in the past, the mayoral seat held by Eulalia V. Verceles (Lakas).

In Panganiban, incumbent Vice Mayor Gregorio E. Angeles (Aksyon) has a good chance against accountant Rufino B. Aguilar, Jr. while in San Andres, businessman Leo Z. Mendoza (Aksyon) is up against his own brother-in-law, contractor Joseph C. Cua (Lakas).

In San Miguel, incumbent Francisco T. Camano, Jr. allegedly fielded ex-barangay captain Armando T. Bernal to foil the ambitions of businessman Florendo P. Bernal. In Viga, it's a four-way race between retired ATO manager Abelardo M. Abundo (Lakas), independent Edipigo T. Litong, Yolando B. Tuquero and the wife of incumbent Jose T. Torres, Faustina.

In the capital town, the fourth face-off between incumbent Jose U. Alberto II (NPC) and Dr. Rodulfo A. Sarmiento (Lakas) continues to be clouded in uncertainty as rumors about the latter's ill health abound. In the sidelines, independent Romulo R. Panti keeps his fingers crossed as he hopes for miracle - he and brother Raul R. Panti winning as mayor and vice mayor of Virac.

All in all, 31 bets filed as candidates for mayo while 29 are running for vice mayor. Of the 286 candidates for SB member provincewide, the largest contingent of 38 is in Viga while the smallest field is in Panganiban at 19.