CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/01 October) – It’s now final: Misamis Oriental Vice Gov. Norris Babiera will run for governor against Rep. Yevgeny Emano of the province’s second district.
Babiera and the entire slate of the Liberal Party (LP) in the province filed their certificates his candidacy less than six hours after the Commission on Elections opened its provincial office for the start of the 5-day period for the filing of COCs.
Wearing yellow t-shirts, Babiera was accompanied by 1st district Rep. Pedro Unabia and Provincial Board Member Jesus Jardin who will be running for the House Representatives for the second district.
The three top political leaders were accompanied by 17 of Misamis Oriental’s 24 town mayors, making the LP a formidable political force in the province.
Rep. Emano, son of Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Vicente Emano, is left with seven town mayors.
The coup against the Emanos came after Unabia, once their loyal supporter, jumped ship and left them for the LP.
Unabia told reporters he could not resist the offers of President Aquino and former vice president Teofisto Guingona Jr.
Had Unabia stayed with the Emanos, Guingona’s wife, Ruthie, would have challenged him for the House seat of the 1st district. Ruthie is the incumbent mayor of vote-rich Gingoog City.
For joining the LP, Unabia may run unopposed. He returned the favor by bringing with him seven town mayors who are his allies.
The decision benefitted Babiera, who used to work as administrator for the Emanos before he ran as vice governor in 2004 with Gov. Oscar Moreno as his running mate.
Babiera said negotiations to recruit Unabia started a year ago and was kept secret.
“Unabia’s decision to go with us gives us the best chances to win in Misamis Oriental,” he said.
At least three other political leaders are eyeing the House seat for the second district – Mayor Juliet Uy of Villanueva town, former governor Antonio Calingin, and former congressman Augusto Baculio Jr.
Meanwhile, Moreno, whose term ends next year, had confirmed months ago that he would run for mayor of Cagayan de Oro. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)