Laguna bets from old political clans; some new and unknown; celebrities, too

Also running are “persistent candidates,” a few party switchers, several named Hernandez, but not a lot of women.


LOS BAÑOS — Candidates for the coming May 13, 2019, elections in Laguna are a mix of old and new faces – reelectionists, members of local political dynasties, some party switchers, a few celebrities, several totally unheard of before this, and not a lot of women.

According to the Commission on Election’s (Comelec) tentative list of candidates for local positions as of November 2018, six are vying for governor, three for vice-governor, a total of 22 for board member for all four provincial districts, and a total of 16 for representatives for all four legislative districts and two lone legislative districts. As of press time, the Comelec has not released the certified list of candidates for local positions yet.

Laguna is the fourth most vote-rich province in the country and the second most vote-rich in Region IV, with 1,675,366 registered voters as of 2016. Calamba is the eighth most vote-rich city outside Metro Manila and the most vote-rich city in Laguna. Other top vote-rich cities in the province are Santa Rosa City, Cabuyao City, Biñan City, and San Pedro City.

New faces

The data from Comelec also reveals the gender imbalance in this election. The candidates for Laguna governor are all male, although two women are running for vice governor against one man. For representative, 13 of the 16 candidates are men while only four of the 22 candidates for board member are women.

New contenders for the gubernatorial seat are Leonardo Almadrigo and Manolo Samia, while Clarence Santos is taking his first shot at the vice gubernatorial seat. The three are unknown in Laguna; a quick check online returns practically zero information about them.

First-time aspirants for a place at the House of Representatives include retired general Jaime Caringal of Cabuyao City, former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation chairman Efraim Genuino, former mayor of Cabuyao City Isidro Hemedes, Jr., and retired Department of the Interior and Local Government city director Tirso Laviña, among others.

Film and TV personalities turned politicians

Former governor Emilio Ramon “ER” Ejercito and his wife incumbent Pagsanjan Mayor Girlie Ejercito entertain questions from the media after casting their votes at the Francisco Benitez Memorial School in Pagsanjan on May 9, 2016. (File photo by Chris Quintana)  

Emilio Ramon “ER” Ejercito and Danilo Ramon “Dan” Fernandez were both actors before going into politics. Ejercito, a native of Pagsanjan, previously served as mayor of his hometown and provincial governor, and is now eyeing to take the gubernatorial seat back after he lost in 2016. Fernandez, who is currently the mayor of Santa Rosa City, previously served as fourth district board member, vice governor, and first district representative, and is looking to return to Congress.

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Third district representative Marisol “Sol” Aragones-Sampelo, more popularly known as Sol Aragones, is a former ABS-CBN news reporter and host. She is running again this year to keep her place at the House.

Reelectionists, persistent candidates

Incumbent governor Ramil Hernandez walks in the compound of the Museo ni Rizal, together with incumbent vice governor Katherine “Karen” Agapay (far left), during the celebration of Dr. Jose P. Rizal’s 157th birth anniversary on June 19, 2018. (File photo by Kimmy Baraoidan)  

Candidates aspiring to retain their positions are Governor Ramil Hernandez, Vice Governor Katherine “Karen” Agapay, Board Members Magtangol Jose “JM” Carait III (first district), Dante Amante (second district), Alejandro “Abiyu” Yu (third district), and Rai-Ann Agustine San Luis (fourth district); and Representatives Marlyn “Len” Alonte (lone district of Biñan City), Joaquin “Jun” Chipeco, Jr. (lone district of Calamba City), Sol Aragones-Sampelo (third district), and Benjamin “Benjie” Agarao Jr. (fourth district).

Incumbents seeking higher positions include second district board member Ruth Mariano-Hernandez, who is running for second district representative, and Santa Rosa City Mayor Dan Fernandez who is running for first district representative.

Candidates who lost in the 2016 elections are running again for the same positions, including Berlene Alberto and ER Ejercito for governor, Mateo “Bro Rico” San Sebastian for vice governor; Alvin Abaja and Gabnulang “Gab” Alatiit for first district board member, and Neptali Bagnes for second district board member; and Maria Cristina Villamor for third district representative.

Other candidates who lost in the 2016 elections and who now want to try their luck for other positions are Jesus Abunda Jr., who ran for first district board member and now running for first district representative, and Christian Niño Lajara who ran for vice governor and now running for second district board member.

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Party transferees

Former Liberal Party (LP) members Santa Rosa City mayor Dan Fernandez, and representatives Benjie Agarao and Len Alonte are now running under the ruling political party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban). Representative Jun Chipeco was also a former Liberal Party member and is now running under the Nacionalista Party.

Other candidates also running under PDP-Laban are former Nacionalista Party members Governor Ramil Hernandez and Vice Governor Karen Agapay, former United Nationalist Alliance members Dante Amante and Abiyu Yu, both third district board members.

All in the family

Politics apparently runs in Lagunense families. Governor Ramil Hernandez and his wife, second district board member Ruth Mariano-Hernandez, are both seeking for reelection — Ramil as governor and Ruth as representative.

Representative Joaquin “Jun” Chipeco, Jr. and his son incumbent Calamba City mayor Justin Marc “Timmy” Chipeco have a conversation during the celebration of Dr. Jose P. Rizal’s 157th birth anniversary at the Rizal monument near city hall on June 19, 2018 . (File photo by Kimmy Baraoidan)

The Comelec also listed several Hernandezes but Laguna Now could not yet establish whether they are related to the governor or his wife.

Charisse Anne Hernandez is running for councilor of Calamba City while Chesskha Hernandez is running for vice mayor of Calauan town. Anastacio Hernandez is seeking a councilor post in Majayjay while Amerlica Hernandez is running for mayor of Nagcarlan. Cesar Hernandez is a candidate for mayor of Santa Rosa City.

ER Ejercito, his wife Pagsanjan mayor Girlie Javier-Ejercito, and his son Pagsanjan councilor John Paul Ejercito are also running for office — ER as governor, Girlie as vice mayor, and John Paul as mayor.

The Amantes have had a stronghold on the city of San Pablo since the 1990s, and it seems they will continue to do so. Third district board member Dante Amante, brother of former mayor Vicente Amante, is keen on keeping his position. His nephew, Loreto “Amben” Amante, who is the incumbent city mayor and the son of Vicente, is also seeking reelection. Another Amante whose affiliation with the Amantes is not clear is also running for councilor in the same city.

Former Calamba City mayor and incumbent representative Jun Chipeco is running for reelection. His sons — incumbent city mayor Justin Marc “Timmy” Chipeco and Julian Eugene “Joey” Chipeco — are running for mayor and councilor, respectively.

Incumbent Calamba City mayor Justin Marc “Timmy” Chipeco and his wife Laverne Chipeco walk down the Rizal monument near city hall during the celebration of Dr. Jose P. Rizal’s 157th birth anniversary on June 19, 2018. (File photo by Kimmy Baraoidan)

Incumbent fourth district representative Benjie Agarao is running for reelection, while his daughter Maria Jamina Katherine “Jam” Agarao iand son Joseph Kris Benjamin “Benjo” Agarao are running for fourth district board member and mayor of Santa Cruz, respectively.

Other political families participating in this year’s local election are the Alontes in Biñan City, the Lajaras in Calamba City, and the San Luises in the fourth district. (Laguna Now)