2022 Philippine Elections

‘Election tradition’: Relatives with same surname quarrel for control of Sarangani town

Rommel Rebollido
‘Election tradition’: Relatives with same surname quarrel for control of Sarangani town

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Members of the Yap family – siblings and their cousin, son, and nephew – will square off again in the old municipality of Glan

One family has dominated local politics in an old Sarangani town for over a decade already and townsfolk have gotten used to seeing them campaigning, trading places, or, worse, fighting each other for positions in the municipal government during elections.

In next year’s elections, members of a family with the same surname – siblings and their cousin, son, and nephew – will square off again in the old municipality of Glan, dubbed as a “heritage town” by conservationists because of its well-preserved ancestral homes, old structures, and aesthetics.

Glan municipal elections officer Roy Lacap on Saturday, October 9, said his list of those who filed their certificates of candidacy last week include relatives Dr. Vivien Yap, Victor James “Tata” Yap Sr., Victor James Jr., Enrique “Yoyong” Yap Jr., and Cyril Yap.

Vivien is the town mayor who is seeking reelection in the 2022 elections. In her first term, she is being challenged by her vice mayor-brother Victor James “Tata” Yap Sr., a former mayor, who claimed his sister reneged on their 2019 agreement to trade places in the next elections.

Threatened by Victor James Sr.’s mayoral bid which is backed by Senator Manny Pacquiao’s People’s Champ Movement, Vivien found an ally in her other brother Enrique Jr., another former Glan mayor whom she defeated in the mayoral race in 2019. They are running under the local Lakas-CMD party.

Enrique agreed to be Vivien’s running mate and filed his COC against his nephew, Victor James Sr.’s councilor-son and namesake Victor Yap Jr.

Another Yap, Cyril, has joined the fray and is also seeking Glan’s vice mayoral post. Cyril is a cousin of the Yap siblings.

“Mao na man gyud ni akong kapalaran siguro – tig kontra sa mga igsuon nga di motuman sa mga saad (I think this is my fate – to fight my siblings who don’t keep their promises),” said Victor James Sr. 

He claimed that he and his sister Vivien had a 2019 agreement that she would give way to his mayoral bid in the 2022 elections.

Victor James, who has also served as a Sarangani provincial board member,  said his brother Enrique made a similar promise to him but did not keep it because the latter fielded his lawyer-wife Amy as a mayoral candidate in the 2010 elections. She won and served for one term.

Infuriated, Victor James said he challenged Enrique’s mayoral bid with his sister Vivien as his running mate in the 2013 elections. 

The tandem of Victor James and Vivien succeeded in snatching Glan’s leadership from their brother Enrique who had their cousin Cyril as running mate in 2013.

Unable to seek reelection as mayor because he was already serving his third and final term in 2019, Victor James became the running mate of his sister Vivien, then the town’s vice mayor, and they won against their brother Enrique who ran alongside Cyril.

The Yaps have been in power in Glan for over a decade already. Before the siblings started quarreling over positions in the town government, their father Enrique Sr., served as the municipal mayor.

Townsfolk have gotten used to the family squabbles, and now see it as some sort of an election tradition in Glan. –Rappler.com

Rommel Rebollido is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship