CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 15 May) – A combination of community issues centered on his handling of the Typhoon Sendong relief efforts ended the magic of Mayor Vicente Emano, whose political dominance in this city and the province of Misamis Oriental spanned more than three decades.
The Commission on Elections proclaimed Gov. Oscar Moreno as the winner in the hotly-contested mayoralty race Tuesday night at the City Council session hall.
Moreno garnered a total of 109,886 votes compared to the 92,033 votes Emano got from the two districts here.
Comelec city director Palmer Palmene deferred the results of four precincts, whose compact flash cards for their PCOS machines were found defective, after it was determined that the remaining votes will not affect the outcome in the mayoralty race.
Also proclaimed winners are incumbent Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who won his third term against Councilor Ian Mark Nacaya in the second district; and Klarex Uy, who defeated incumbent Rep. Benjo Benaldo in the first district.
Interviewed by ABS-CBN TV Patrol Northern Mindanao, Emano said he will respect the “will of the people” but was unclear if he will concede defeat.
His lawyer, Francis Ko, also would not say if Emano will concede defeat when he was interviewed at the proclamation of winners at City Hall Tuesday night.
Charlito “Kaloy” Manlupig, who heads the Cagayan de Oro-based non-government organization Balay Mindanaw, said the “personalized style of leadership” of Emano was his undoing.
“He did not convene the City Development Council, the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council and other agencies, preferring to manage any issues that cropped up by himself,” Manlupig said.
“Had Emano convened the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, he would not have been entirely blamed for mishandling the response and relief efforts during Typhoon Sendong,” Manlupig added.
Emano was largely blamed for the lackluster relief response efforts during Typhoon Sendong and the disposal of dead bodies to the city’s garbage dump site.
Local analyst Robert dela Serna said Emano’s mishandling of Typhoon Sendong became the “centerpoint” of other community issues that beset Cagayan de Oro.
“Everything – from rising criminality, illegal mining, traffic management and allegations of corruption – became ‘hot issues.’ Sendong awakened many residents that something was wrong in the city and they found the culprit in Emano,” Dela Serna said.
Maria Theresa Rivera, a Development Communications teacher at Xavier University, said residents, especially the middle class, were the first to view these issues as “serious” that threatened the development of Cagayan de Oro.
“The middle class aired their concerns and disappointments in the social networks like Facebook and Twitter. These views eventually cascaded to the other much poorer sectors of the city who shared the same predicament,” she said.
Rivera said it was not unusual to see at the rallies “sosyaleras” hobnobbing with market vendors and drivers.
“It was like people’s power that handed Emano his first defeat in 30 years,” Rivera said.
Emano started his political career as town mayor of Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental during Martial Law. Disappointed with the way the state-run PHIVEDEC demolished houses of residents in Tagoloan, Emano joined the political opposition against the late President Ferdinand Marcos.
He was later appointed as officer-in-charge of Misamis Oriental when President Corazon Aquino took power in 1986. Emano ran and won as Misamis Oriental governor for three succeeding terms.
In 1998, he ran for mayor in Cagayan de Oro and won. He was reelected for two more consecutive terms. Because he could no longer run as mayor, he ran for vice mayor in 2007 and won again.
He once more run for city mayor in 2010 and defeated Klarex Uy in a highly controversial win.
Emano is always known for his political astuteness in Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental.