DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines – The power of local politicians’ endorsements during national elections couldn’t be clearer than in vote-rich Pangasinan province, where tarps of varied hues show Governor Amado Espino III’s face beside the top-five 2022 presidential bets.
One collection of photos – showing Espino’s face with Vice President Leni Robredo, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Manila mayor Isko Moreno, and senators Manny Pacquiao and Ping Lacson – has been shared more than 3,600 times.
The post prompted a guessing game among constituents on which candidate the reelectionist governor will endorse.
Pangasinan province, with its independent city capital, Dagupan, has the third biggest number of voters (2.1 million) in the 2022 elections. Only Cebu province (3.3 million, with w/ Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, and Mandaue City) and Cavite (3.2 million) have more voters.
Most responses show amusement. “Friendship goals,” quipped Mark Anthony Lavina.
“Literal na ‘can work under any situation’ at ‘teamplayer’,” said Kate Sarabia.
But some critics of the governor warned about trust issues.
Espino’s camp is as confused as residents.
“Definitely not ours”, provincial legal officer Geraldine Baniqued told Aksyon Radyo Pangasinan.
“Hindi po namin alam kung sino naglalagay niyan but we are hoping na huwag bigyan ng masamang kahulugan”, said Baniqued on Tuesday, April 5.
(We do not know who placed these but we are hoping people do not look at it in a bad light.)
“Hindi namin masabi pero baka they might come from our kaluyagans who favor Governor Espino along with some other presidentiables,” she said, calling the tarp banners “an expression of sentiment or personal choice.”
The governor has not yet endorsed any presidential bet.
Espino is running under the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) and the new regional party Abante Pangasinan Ilocano.
He faces three challengers in the provincial polls: Ramon Guico of the Nacionalista Party, independent Rolly Jimenez, and Caloy Padilla of the Philippine Green Republican Party (PGRP). – Rappler.com
Ahikam Pasion is a Luzon-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.