BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The clash between two United Negros Alliance candidates for the mayoralty in Binalbagan appears to be unavoidable, as a rematch between incumbent Alejandro Mirasol and his former ally, Emmanuel Aranda, is expected in next year’s elections.
Cadiz City Mayor Salvador Escalante Jr., who is the UNegA secretary general, said that he got information that Aranda, who previously served as mayor of Binalbagan, will again challenge Mirasol for the mayoralty race.
While UNegA has yet to discuss the possible clash between the two members, Escalante said that it had been a policy since the beginning that an “incumbent member of UNegA will be the official candidate.”
He also stressed that Rep. Ma. Lourdes Arroyo will continue to be the UNegA official candidate in the 5th district, unless she resigns.
Escalante made the announcement in response to reports that former Board Member Alain Gatuslao may challenge Arroyo for the 5th district congressional seat. Both are UNegA members.
But Escalante said Gatuslao told him a week ago that he has already retired from politics.
He added that Gatuslao wants to set a schedule with Vice-Gov. Jeffrey Ferrer for the proclamation of his brother, incumbent Himamaylan City Vice-Mayor Justin Gatuslao, as official candidate of UNegA for the city vice mayor, in preparation for the printing of their political posters.
Escalante also said that there is no chance for a merger of UNegA and Love-Negros in Isabela town, also in the 5th district, as Vice Mayor Renato Malabor is determined to challenge incumbent Mayor Irene Montilla, who is affiliated with Love-Negros.
But Escalante said he is not losing hope, citing Toboso as an example where the merger of UNega and Love-Negros is now possible, with Madonnah Marañon- Jaojoco, wife of Mayor Richard Jaojoco, having agreed to be the mayor, with Ma Luisa de la Cruz, who is affiliated with Love-Negros, as her running mate.
“Hopefully, the coalition in Toboso will hold, and we are happy for that,” he added.
But he cannot say what will happen to Toboso Vice Mayor Jesse Rex Bartolome, who is with Love Negros.
“I cannot speak for Love Negros, but I am sure they are still working on their side since there are commitments,” Escalante said.
Hinobaan Mayor Ernesto Estrao, meanwhile, is ending his nine-year term as the local chief executive, and there are serious talks that a UNegA member, whom Escalante did not identify, may join the mayoralty race there.*