SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 October) — It will still be the bitter, long-time rivalry between the Barbers and Matugas clans that will dominate the 2022 elections in Surigao del Norte.
A province known for its political dynasties, the families of Rep. Robert Ace Barbers and Gov. Francisco Matugas and their allies are squaring off for various positions across the province.
In the town of Tubod, the heated electoral feud among family members is a microcosm of the bitter long-time rivalry of the province’s established political dynasties.
Tubod Mayor Richelle Romarate, daughter of former long-serving town mayor and three-term congressman Guillermo Romarate Jr., is seeking reelection under Barber’s Nationalista Party and Hugpong ng Pagbabago coalition. She will be pitted against Sangguniang Panlalawigan member Myrna Romarate, Guillermo’s second wife, who is running under Matugas’ Padajon Surigao PDP-Laban Cusi wing.
Guillermo, after losing the gubernatorial bid in the 2016 elections against Sol Matugas, wife of Francisco, by a 28,000-vote margin has not been active in politics.
The Barbers’ and Matugases’ grip across the province’s 11 mainland towns and nine Siargao Island towns is almost equal.
The Barbers clan, however, has the upper hand in getting the support of most vote-rich mainland towns with eight of 11 incumbent mayoralty and vice mayoralty bets under them. The Matugas clan, on the other hand, has control of Siargao Island’s sitting local officials.
The Matugases also controls the province’s capital, Surigao City. Ernesto Matugas Jr. and his father Ernesto, are the incumbent mayor and vice mayor, respectively, seeking reelections. Ernesto, younger brother of incumbent Gov. Francisco Matugas, was previously the city’s three-term mayor.
They will be challenged by big time contractor Engr. Paul Dumlao as mayor and former city mayor lawyer Alfonso Casurra as vice mayor of the Barbers team.
Gov. Matugas will be facing former governor Lyndon Barbers and pastor Artemio Maquiso, an independent candidate and leader of Duterte Die-hard Supporters.
Rep. Barbers of Surigao del Norte’s second district will be pitted against incumbent Surigao City councilor Fernando Larong, a lawyer, of the Matugas team.
In the first congressional district, Rep. Francisco Jose Matugas will square off with Rito Cubilan III of the Barbers team and lawyer Lanelyn Pangilinan of the People’s Reform Party.
Vice Gov. Eddie Gokiangkee, of the Matugas team, will face Liza Laparan of the Barbers team and Ambrosio Ruaya, an independent candidate.
The political dynasties in the 11 mainland towns are more pronounced with the incumbent candidates mostly under the Barbers team. The reelectionists in these towns are either pairing as couples or siblings in the mayoralty and vice mayoralty posts.
Only three of these mainland towns are supporting the Matugas faction from the municipalities of Mainit, Malimono and Claver.
The nine towns of Siargao Island are still under the control of the Matugases considering that former governor Sol Matugas hails from the popular global surfing town of General Luna, where she is seeking the mayoralty post. (Chris V. Panganiban / MindaNews)