Negros Oriental

Before Comelec cancels special polls, 3 contenders emerge for Arnie Teves’ seat

John Sitchon

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Before Comelec cancels special polls, 3 contenders emerge for Arnie Teves’ seat

Three congressional aspirants in Negros Oriental's special elections: Pryde Henry Teves, Rey Lopez, and Lenin Alviola.

Those who filed their COCs before Comelec cancelled the special elections are Pryde Henry Teves, retired colonel Reynaldo Lopez, and Bacong Mayor Lenin Alviola

CEBU, Philippines – Shortly before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) decided to call off the special elections in Negros Oriental, the younger brother of fugitive and former representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. has filed his certificate of candidacy for the position left vacant by his sibling’s expulsion.

Pryde Henry Teves submitted his COC at the Office of the Provincial Election Supervisor in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, on Wednesday morning, November 8.

The younger Teves filed his candidacy a day after his elder brother’s top 2022 rival, retired Navy colonel Reynaldo “Rey” Lopez, submitted his candidacy papers to the local Comelec office.

A town mayor in Negros Oriental, Lenin Alviola, also emerged as the third aspirant for Negros Oriental’s 3rd District congressional seat. 

The special election was supposed to take place on December 9 to fill the vacancy because Arnie was removed as a member of the House of Representatives last August.

The Wednesday afternoon announcement of the Comelec’s decision to cancel the special elections came after the House of Representatives adopted a resolution asking the poll body to reconsider “given all the existing circumstances and present predicament affecting the province.”

Tense

Had it not been for the decision to cancel, the special elections would have been tense in Negros Oriental.

The ex-congressman, who has a warrant out for his arrest for his alleged role in the assassination of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo, and the killing of nine others, has been out of the country since February and has refused to return.

Degamo was the main political rival of the Teveses in Negros Oriental and successfully unseated Pryde Henry as governor via a 2022 election protest.

Arnie was the first sitting congressman to be designated a terrorist by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) back in August, along with several others who were allegedly involved in the Degamo slay and other politically motivated killings in Negros Oriental.

Pryde Henry’s rival, Lopez, joined the 2022 race for the congressional post but placed second to Arnie, who is now believed to be hiding in Timor-Leste.

Lopez had substituted for Nacionalista Party (NP) candidate Glib Estrella who withdrew from the race in November 2021 so Lopez could run against Teves under the ticket of the late Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo.

In the 2022 elections, two others – Karen Estrella of the Probinsya Muna Development Initiative (Promdi) and Acel Estrella, an independent – joined the congressional race in the Negros Oriental district.

Teves won with 91,482 votes against Lopez, his strongest contender, who garnered some 87,684 votes.

Mayor Alviola, the third aspirant for the same position, emerged on Wednesday. Alviola of Bacong, a fourth-class municipality in Negros Oriental, filed his COC for the position of congressman.

Interestingly, Alviola ran for mayor in 2022 under Teves’ political party, the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).

Alviola won against his opponent, Deging Icao of the Nacionalista Party (NP), with 15,133 votes. Icao only got 5,060 votes. The NP is the party of the Lopez and the Degamos.

Bacong had 25,205 registered voters during the 2022 elections.

Arnie’s top rival

Lopez, a native of Negros Oriental and a member of the Ragay clan, was born and raised in Barangay Bonawon, Siaton town. He studied electrical engineering at Silliman University in Dumaguete City, graduating in 1988.

Not too long after, Lopez enrolled at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in Baguio City and completed his training there as a distinguished cadet in 1992.

In the years that followed, the young Lopez, serving as an officer of the Philippine Navy, would take his graduate studies in Defense Policy and Strategy at Massey University in New Zealand.

He also became a master’s candidate in National Security Administration at the National Defense College of the Philippines in Quezon City.

In 2021, Lopez was promoted to the rank of Captain after serving multiple times aboard combatant ships in the western and southern Philippines and establishing the Armed Forces of the Philippines Cyber Group (AFPCyG). – Rappler.com

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