Malabon, Navotas to elect separate solons for first time

By Maria Althea Teves,

Posted at May 09 2010 10:34 AM | Updated as of May 09 2010 07:25 PM

Political families reposition turfs

MANILA, Philippines—Malabon and Navotas, the 2 localities in the National Capital Region that have long been represented by a single congressman, will be voting for separate solons for the first time on Monday. 

The creation of separate congressional districts for the 2 cities is not exactly widening the electoral space for politicians, however. There is the inevitable repositioning of turfs among political families, of course, but this time they are also roused from years of comfortably minding just their mayoral and council races. 

(See related story, Separated, too: Taguig and Pateros in 2007”) 

The aspirants in Navotas are not worried—brothers Tobias and John Reynald Tiangco are running unopposed as congressman and mayor, respectively. Their vice mayoral candidate, Patrick Javier, is also unopposed. (Read Only one vote to win

The circus is in Malabon, where 4 scions of political families are slugging it out for the congressional seat. Popular candidatesa are incumbent Malabon-Navotas Rep. Josephine Lacson-Noel, former Malabon Vice Mayor Mark Allan Jay Yambao (1995-2004), Malabon Vice Mayor Arnold Vicencio, and former Malabon-Navotas Rep. Federico Sandoval II (2001-2007). 

Lacson is the wife of An-Waray Party-list Rep. Florencio Noel while incumbent Vice Mayor Vicencio is the son of Amado Vicencio, who was Malabon Mayor from 1995 to 2004. Sandoval is the son of a former Palawan congressman.  

(Photo caption: Malabon Vice Mayor Arnold Vicencio in the middle with his supporters surrounding him. He stands in front of a house in Brgy. San Agustin in Malabon plastered with the incumbent Malabon-Navotas Rep. Jaye Lacson-Noel's posters. Driving by is a tricycle with a Federico Sandoval tarpaulin, former 3-term congressman of the Malabon-Navotas district [Photo taken: April 16, 2010])

Ruling families

Since 1987, the former lone district of Malabon-Navotas was represented by members of 2 political families—the Oretas hailing from Malabon, and the Sandovals of Navotas. 

Teresa Aquino-Oreta, sister-in-law of incumbent Malabon Mayor Canuto Oreta, represented Malabon-Navotas from 1987 to 1998.  

Federico Sandoval took her place and finished his 3 terms until 2007. After his term as congressman was done, he ran against former Navoteño local party mate and friend Tobias Tiangco for the mayoral seat in Navotas and lost by 22,000 votes. 

Federico’s brother, Alvin Sandoval, won the congressional race in 2007 with a lead of 1,159 votes over Jaye Lacson-Noel. But a recount by the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) reverse the results. In September 2009, Lacson-Noel was declared the rightful winner. She won by 542 votes. 

In March 2010, the Supreme Court en banc affirmed the HRET ruling

People’s voices

Fish vendors, church-goers and people on the streets say that will either vote for either Lacson or Vicencio.

(Photo caption: A street market vendors sits on the bridge of Estrella St. that connects Malabon and Navotas that is separated by the Navotas River. She and others who are selling on the streets cannot afford a place in the Malabon market. [Photo taken: April 16, 2010])

Locals perceive Lacson as an honest, deserving winner after the HRET declared her as the rightful representative for Malabon-Navotas. 

Vicencio, on the other hand, is regarded well by locals as the good son of a well-loved former Mayor of Malabon.  

Sandoval is perceived by people to be a strong candidate because they think that he is from a moneyed political family. They question, however, his loyalty to Malabon because they said he is really a Navotas native. 

Sandoval told that he is running for the Malabon congressional race because his roots are from Malabon. “My maternal grandfather is from Malabon,” he said. 

Political observers say, however, that Sandoval is running in Malabon because he didn’t want to face off with Tiangco in the congressional race in Navotas. Tiangco beat him in the 2007 mayoral race in Navotas. 

Separate pork barrel

Sandoval, Oreta, Tiangco, and Vicencio were all for the separation of Malabon and Navotas as legislative districts. 

Sandoval said that there was a need to separate Malabon and Navotas because the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF)—more popularly known as pork barrel—is insufficient to deliver basic services to more than 500,000 residents of Malabon and Navotas (as of 2007). 

Sandoval drafted House Bill 5500, which became Republic Act 9387, which separated the cities of Malabon and Navotas. 

Vicencio said that the separation will help Malabon residents know where the pork barrel funds is going and that the residents would have nothing against Navotas, where they perceive the pork barrel goes when there are no projects or improvements in Malabon. 

“Kasi ’pag wala masyadong nangyayari sa aming bayan, iniisip na lang naming nasa kabilang siyudad (When there are no projects entering Malabon, we’re thinking that the money goes to the other city),” Vicencio said.  

Different problems

Vicencio said that Navotas and Malabon have different concerns and therefore have different priorities. 

Navotas Mayor Tiangco told that his first legislative agenda will be for Navotas to have its own prosecutor’s office, regional trial court, and an additional metropolitan court office. He criticized Sandoval’s bill for not including the judicial bodies in one of its provisions. 

This is so “justice will be served swiftly,” Tiangco said. 

But Tiangco acknowledged that neither crimes nor lack of judiciary assistance is the city’s immediate problem; it’s unemployment due to poverty. 

Vicencio and Sandoval said that flooding is Malabon’s problem. 

Sandoval cited his push for the Camanava (Caloocan-Malabon-Navotas-Valenzuela) mega flood control project in 2004. But this project is not funded with the Malabon-Navotas district’s PDAF. It is supported by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) when the the Department of Public Works and Highways started construction in 2003. The project amounted to a little over P5 billion. 

The project hopes to address the flood problems of the 4 cities by constructing a series of dikes that will close as tides go up during rainy season, Sandoval said. 

Until now, the construction is unfinished. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority took over the construction in March 2009 and has targeted to finish it this month. (Know more about the Camanava mega-flood control project by watching the video below)

Vicencio, on the other hand, wants to use the pork barrel for a drainage master plan that will rapidly drain water from the streets of Malabon during floods. 

He said he is already preparing for the project as early as campaign period and already sought for a hydraulics engineer’s advice. He said they would have to study how the water flows how the water flows in and out of the city by looking at the city's sewers and drainage systems. (