Congressional bets: 1 in some districts, 10 in others

Reynaldo Santos Jr

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More congressional districts are up for grabs now, but there are fewer aspirants

MANILA, Philippines – Despite the increase in the number of congressional districts since the last election, there are fewer aspirants nationwide for 2013.

Data from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) show that a total of 653 filed certificates of candidacy for congressman in the 232 districts nationwide in next year’s elections.

This is lower than the 796 aspirants who joined the race in 230 districts in 2010.

Of the current 232 districts, 21 have lone candidates, including 18 re-electionists. The poll body says an unopposed candidate needs only one vote to win.

The rest of the districts have, on the average, 2 to 3 congressional aspirants—a number small enough to enable voters to diligently compare the qualifications and platforms of the candidates.

There are districts, however, where voters will have more candidates to scrutinize. The 1st district of Kalookan City, for instance, has 10 aspirants—the highest in the entire country. Cebu City’s 7th district follows closely with 9 aspirants, while Maguindanao’s 2nd district has 8.

The current House consists of 229 representatives. It used to have 230, but the Supreme Court, after the 2010 polls, annulled the creation of the districts of Malolos City and Dinagat Islands. The Dinagat district was later upheld, thus the current number of congressmen.

For the incoming 16th Congress, representatives will come from ‪233 geo-political districts. Three districts were recently recreated: Quezon City’s 4th and 5th district, Puerto Princesa City’s lone district, and North Cotabato’s 3rd district.

Article VI, Section 6, of the Constitution sets the following minimum requirement for a congressman: a natural-born Filipino, at least 25 years old on election day, able to read and write, a registered voter in the district where he’s running, and a resident of that district for at least a year immediately before election day.

A congressman receives a monthly salary of P35,000, while the Speaker receives Php40,000. They are given powers to allocate P200 million each in pork barrel funds every year.

The unopposed re-electionists are:

  • Rodolfo Fariñas (Ilocos Norte, 1st district)
  • Maria Rachel Arenas (Pangasinan, 3rd district)
  • Marlyn Primicias-Agabas (Pangasinan, 6th district)
  • Enrique Cojuangco (Tarlac, 1st district)
  • Dakila Carlo Cua (Quirino, lone district)
  • Joseph Gilbert Violago (Nueva Ecija, 2nd district)
  • Josephine Lacson-Noel (Malabon City, lone district)
  • Trisha Bonoan-David (Manila City, 4th district)
  • Marcelino Teodoro (Marikina City, 1st district)
  • Joel Duavit (Rizal, 1st district)
  • Isidro Rodriguez, Jr. (Rizal, 2nd district)
  • Reynaldo Umali (Oriental Mindoro, 2nd district)
  • Ferdinand Martin Romualdez (Leyte, 1st district)
  • Maria Carmen Zamora (Compostela Valley, 1st district)
  • Rommel Amatong (Compostela Valley, 2nd district)
  • Isidro Ungab (Davao City, 3rd district)
  • Thelma Almario (Davao Oriental, 2nd district)
  • Manny Pacquiao (Sarangani, lone district)

The other lone candidates are:

  • Jose Christopher Belmonte (Quezon City, 6th district), nephew of re-electionist Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.
  • Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr (Cebu, 1st district), grandson of incumbent Eduardo Gullas, who is finishing his last term.
  • Erlpe John Amante (Agusan del Norte, 2nd district), brother of outgoing congresswoman Angelica Amante-Matba. – with research assistance from Kat Uyan and Xyline Senoran, 

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