2022 Philippine Elections

2022 local campaigns start: Thousands of tight races, hundreds of no contests

Miriam Grace A. Go
2022 local campaigns start: Thousands of tight races, hundreds of no contests
Rappler has counted 1,690 one-on-one races and 845 unopposed local candidates. The party mates of ‘presidentiables’ make up a minority of local bets.

MANILA, Philippines – Local electoral campaigns in the Philippines kick off on Friday, March 25, with thousands of one-on-one races and hundreds of unopposed bids expected to influence vote delivery for presidential candidates. 

A total of 46,120 candidates are vying for 18,023 local positions, including those of governor, vice governor, provincial board member, congressional district representative, city and municipal mayor, city and municipal vice mayor, and city and municipal councilors. (The number of candidates already excludes those who have withdrawn but whose names have already been printed on the ballots.) 

Just in time for the start of local campaigns, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on March 17 dropped its requirement for permits for rallies and other activities in areas under pandemic alert levels 1 and 2 – practically the entire country. Campaign organizers and election lawyers assisting candidates had earlier complained that the poll body’s pandemic campaign rules were open to abuse, sowed confusion, and were impractical

With COVID-19 cases dropping, the Comelec looks at relaxing its campaign guidelines that were crafted when most of the country was under Alert Level 3, or more restrictive pandemic status. 

Comelec data and Rappler research reveal interesting developments at the local level that could prove to be unique to the first-ever Philippine elections conducted amid a pandemic, as well as affect the battle that looks like a repeat of the snap presidential polls of 36 years ago: the dictator’s son and a widow are currently the frontrunners in voters’ preferences. 

Unopposed candidates 

There are 845 unopposed local candidates for 2022, a huge increase from the more than 500 we reported in the past 3 elections. 

If only the posts of governor, vice governor, mayor, vice mayor, and congressional representative would be counted, the total of unopposed bets – 516 – would not be far from the numbers in recent elections. 

What drives the increase in numbers in 2022 is the number of sure-win provincial board members and city and municipal councilors – positions that have multiple seat allotments. This means there are a number of entire slates without challengers. While this had happened in the past, Rappler didn’t count them because the phenomenon was not as pronounced as in the 2022 polls.

Here’s a breakdown of unopposed candidates: 

  • 9 governors
  • 11 vice governors
  • 45 provincial board members
  • 39 district House representatives
  • 203 city and municipal mayors
  • 254 city and municipal vice mayors
  • 284 city and municipal councilors

The unopposed gubernatorial candidates are in:

  • LUZON: Ilocos Sur, Apayao, Bataan, Tarlac
  • VISAYAS: Southern Leyte
  • MINDANAO: Davao Occidental, Davao Oriental, Agusan del Sur, Sulu

Unopposed candidates need only one vote to get elected. Since they don’t have their own bids to push, they are expected to be able to focus on campaigning for their presidential, vice presidential, and other national candidates. 

One-on-one races 

The reverse is expected from 3,380 candidates, who may be hard put to campaign for their national allies. They are facing one-on-one battles over 1,690 local posts. Specifically: 

  • For governor in 20 provinces
  • For vice governor in 30 provinces
  • For congressional representative in 92 districts
  • For mayor in 746 cities and municipalities
  • For vice mayor in 802 cities and municipalities

The one-on-one gubernatorial fights are in: 

  • LUZON: Ilocos Norte, La Union, Batanes, Cagayan, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Mountain Province, Aurora, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Romblon, Masbate
  • VISAYAS: Guimaras, Iloilo, Siquijor, Biliran, Samar
  • MINDANAO: Davao del Norte, Sultan Kudarat, Dinagat Islands
Independents 

There are 11,137 independents, or almost 1 in every 4 candidates. They are: 

  • 83 for governor
  • 44 for vice governor
  • 387 for provincial board member
  • 146 for congressman/woman 
  • 887 for mayor
  • 652 for vice mayor
  • 1,058 for city councilor
  • 7,880 for municipal councilor
Party mates of ‘presidentiables’ a minority 

The most number of candidates next to independents are with President Rodrigo Duterte’s party, PDP-Laban. They are followed by those from:

  • Nacionalista Party of former Senate president Manny Villar, whose son Mark is running for senator
  • Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), chaired by vice presidential contender Senate President Vicente Sotto III
  • Lakas, which is vice presidential candidate Sara Duterte’s party and headed by presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s cousin, House Majority Floor Leader and Leyte congressman Martin Romualdez
  • National Unity Party, which was created in support of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo when she was president and concurrent chairperson of Lakas

Taken together, these five parties have 20,621 candidates or close to half (45%) of all local candidates. Except for the NPC, these parties have endorsed the Marcos-Duterte ticket. 

Interestingly, none of the presidential candidates are running under the banner of these biggest political parties. Their party mates are, in fact, a minority among local bets. 

Of the 10 presidential candidates, 3 are independent: former presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, Senator Panfilo Lacson (of Partido Reporma until March 24), and Vice President Leni Robredo. 

The rest of the candidates for the highest post have been nominated by either small parties or resurrected ones – those which had captured only few seats in past elections, if not largely inactive. 

Of these, two small parties got a boost from the candidates who agreed to become their standard-bearers:

  • Aksyon Demokratiko, whose presidential bet is Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, has 1,968 local candidates. It’s the next biggest party this election after the top 5.
  • Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP), whose presidential bet is former senator Marcos Jr., has 1,527 local candidates. 

The parties of the eight “presidentiables” – Aksyon, PFP, Partido Lakas ng Masa, Partido Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas, Partido para sa Demokratikong Reporma (formerly with Lacson, now supporting Robredo), Katipunan ng Kamalayang Kayumanggi, Democratic Party of the Philippines, and Abag Promdi – have a combined 5,487 candidates, or just 12% of the total local candidates. 

Governors of vote-rich provinces start choosing presidential bets

Among the 20 vote-richest provinces, only nine governors have so far unequivocally declared the presidential candidates they are supporting, with a few promising to deliver a specific number of votes, or actually going beyond declaring support or hosting one-time rallies. They are in: 

  • Cavite – for Marcos 
  • Pangasinan – for Marcos
  • Bulacan – for Robredo
  • Negros Occidental – for Robredo
  • Batangas – for Marcos
  • Iloilo – for Robredo
  • Quezon – for Marcos 
  • Leyte – for Marcos
  • Isabela – for Marcos

While these governors are not exactly unopposed, they are seen to be strong enough not to be dislodged by their challengers, and are therefore expected to be able to attend to their presidential bets’ campaigns – Cavite’s Jonvic Remulla (for Marcos) and Negros Occidental’s Eugenio Lacson (for Robredo), for example. 

In certain provinces, even rival gubernatorial candidates are endorsing the same presidential bets – such as in Pangasinan, where the strongest of four contenders, reelectionist Governor Amado Espino III and former Binalonan mayor Ramon Guico, have endorsed Marcos. 

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Bookmark Rappler’s 2022 election site to keep you updated on the local and national campaigns, and for helpful guides and informative trackers related to the polls.

For the list of candidates per province and in Metro Manila, go here: 

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For the powers and duties of every elective position, check these series in English and major Philippine languages: 

– with data inputs from Michael Bueza/Rappler.com

Miriam Grace A. Go

MIriam Grace A Go’s areas of interest are local governance, campaigns and elections, and anything Japanese.