BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The filing of certificates of candidacy for various elected positions ended yesterday with congressional aspirants in four of six Negros Occidental districts, excluding highly urbanized Bacolod City, having no opponents.
The unchallenged congressional aspirants are reelectionist Rep. Gerardo Valmayor (1st district), comebacking Rep. Alfredo Marañon III (2nd district), reelectionist Rep. Juliet Ferrer (4th district) and former House deputy speaker Mercedes Alvarez (6th district), who is replacing her father, Rep. Genaro Alvarez, records of the Comelec show.
Reelectionist Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez (3rd district) is being challenged by Bernard “Toto” Ferraris, an entrepreneur-resident of Victorias City, who filed yesterday his certificate of candidacy, beating the 5 p.m. deadline set by the Comelec.
Ferraris, of Brgy. 14, Victorias City, said he is running under the Reform PH People’s Party banner.
On the other hand, Benitez is affiliated with the PDP-Laban (Cusi faction).
Fifth district reelectionist Rep. Maria Lourdes Arroyo (Lakas CMD-United Negros Alliance) has two opponents in the persons of Atty. Emilio Bernardino Dino Yulo, who previously served as board member and vice governor of Negros Occidental, and Macoy Javelosa.
Yulo said he will run as an independent candidate, although he is a member of the Nacionalista Party.
In the gubernatorial post, incumbent Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson has two opponents. They are former Rep. Juan Nuega Orola Jr. and self-proclaimed visionary Maria Socorro Sibulan Okada.
Jonry Abagon Gargarita of Binalbagan is vying the vice gubernatorial post against incumbent Vice Gov. Jeffrey Ferrer.
Reelectionist Board Members Araceli Somosa and Rommel Debulgado (1st district), Sixto Guanzon Jr and Samson Mirhan (2nd district), as well as Valentino Miguel and Jeffrey Tubola (6th district), have also no opponents, COMELEC records further showed.
Antonio Barillo Jr. and Junee Occida are also vying for the two slots as 3rd district board members, against incumbent Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) members Manuel Frederick Ko and Andrew Montelibano.
Bago City Councilor Andrew Martin Torres and Cleo Gaudite are also aspiring to become board members of the 4th district, with incumbent SP member Jose Benito Alonso seeking for reelection, while incumbent SP member Victor Javellana is expected to finish his term June 30 next year.
Board Member Ernesto Agustin Bascon and his running mate, Raymund Gatuslao, filed their respective CoCs as mayor and vice mayor of Himamaylan City.
Bascon endorsed his nephew, Hernan Julian Gatuslao, to succeed him as board member in the 5th district. Incumbent Board Member Rita Gatuslao, first cousin of Bascon, is also seeking for a reelection, with other aspirants, including Patrick Miguel Montilla, Rolito Espinosa, Pedro Bolaño and Anthony Dennis Occeno, records of the Comelec further showed.*