2016 local races: Lone candidates, fewer voter choices

Reynaldo Santos Jr.
Around 545 candidates are running for various local positions without an opponent, making them sure winners after the May 9 elections

MANILA, Philippines – While the whole country has up to 6 personalities to choose from as the next president or vice president, some provinces and towns don’t have that much choice as leaders for their own localities. Based on the official list of local candidates provided by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), there are 545 candidates running without an opponent, making them practically sure winners after the May 9 elections. This set of lone candidates include:
  • 39 running for congress
  • 14 running for governor
  • 14 running for vice governor
  • 222 running for mayor
  • 256 running for vice mayor
These unchallenged candidates are spread over 73 provinces across the country. Only the provinces of Agusan del Norte, Camarines Sur, Guimaras, Marinduque, Samar, Siquijor, Surigao del Norte, and Zambales don’t have lone candidates. On the map below, click on the dots to see the number of lone candidates per province. Among the 73 provinces with lone candidates, Ilocos Sur has the most number – 25, including its lone gubernatorial candidate Ryan Luis Singson and vice gubernatorial candidate Jerry Singson. This is followed by Isabela with 21 unopposed candidates, and Maguindanao with 20 uncontested candidates. All these lone candidates account for 15% of the combined total number of candidates running for these 5 local positions. (READ: By the numbers: Candidates in the 2016 elections) These candidates may have the advantage of an easy campaign (or none at all) since they will only need a vote each to win the elections. And while the uncontested candidates benefit from this advantage, voters in these areas, on the other hand, won’t have any other choice on election day. Returning uncontested Not only are they uncontested candidates. Majority of those running unopposed for congressional, gubernatorial, and mayoral positions are reelectionists. And since they are unopposed, they are assured of yet another 3 years in office. Based on the Comelec figures, 32 of the 39 lone congressional candidates are reelectionists – as are 11 of the 14 lone gubernatorial candidates, and 136 of the 222 lone mayoral candidates. Of the remaining, most of them carry the same surname as those of the incumbents they are seeking to replace. Though a different face, the same political family will rule in the next 3 years. In Mountain Province, special elections will be held within the year after the death of lone gubernatorial candidate and reelectionist Governor Leonard Mayaen. Mayaen, who died of a heart attack on March 31, has no political party, so there is no one who can replace him in his uncontested bid for reelection. Lone tandems And while there are lone gubernatorial and mayoral candidates, there are also uncontested gubernatorial and vice gubernatorial candidates. Some areas even have either both lone gubernatorial and vice gubernatorial candidates, or mayoral and vice mayoral bets – giving residents no choice on who to vote for, for these positions. There are 9 provinces that have both uncontested gubernatorial and vice gubernatorial candidates. They are concentrated in nothern Luzon and Mindanao. Meanwhile, there are 137 towns and cities with both lone mayoral and vice mayoral candidates. Most of these lone tandems even come from the same political parties. For these provinces and cities/towns, all they have to figure out in the canvassing would be the board members and the city/municipal councilors. See the list of all local candidates in the links below: – with research by interns Glenda Marie Castro, Czarina Lopez, and Welhemina Seda/Rappler.com