After mayor's slay, Maconacon bet to run unopposed

by Dharel Placido,

Posted at Jan 24 2013 10:00 AM | Updated as of Jan 25 2013 01:30 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The mayoralty candidate of Maconacon, Isabela may run unopposed in the 2013 elections following the killing of Mayor Erlinda Domingo last Tuesday in Quezon City.

Jolly Taberner, Maconacon's vice mayor who took over Domingo's post following the latter's death, said independent candidate Walter "Abdulwali" Villanueva has been left with no opponent in the upcoming elections.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Sixto Brillantes said the substitute for a candidate who died may file a certificate of candidacy up to mid-day of election day, provided that the substitute and the substituted have the same surnames.

"Iyung pangalan ng namatay yun na ang nakalabas sa balota eh. Kailangan parehas na surname. Hindi makikita ang pangalan ng bagong kandidato kung 'di parehas ang surname," Brillantes told dzMM.

The family of Domingo, who was shot dead in front of an apartelle in Quezon City on Tuesday evening, has yet to make an announcement on its decision for the 2013 elections.

Domingo is survived by her two children, Liezle Domingo Vicente, 24, who lives in the town, and Celso Domingo Jr., who is working in Taiwan. The slain mayor was separated from her husband Celso Sr., who has been living in Texas, USA since 2001.

Domingo's remains were set to be flown to Isabela on Thursday morning.

Violence mars Maconacon

Maconacon, one of the four coastal towns of Isabela province, is so remote it can be reached only by light plane or through a 24-hour ride on flimsy boats from Cagayan’s northernmost Santa Ana town in the South China Sea to the Pacific Ocean.

Rich in marine resources, Maconacon used to be controlled by large logging concessionaires.

The town has only 2,891 registered voters.

And yet political violence, common in many areas of Northern Luzon, has also marred life in Maconacon.

On May 20, 2009, the town’s mayor, Francisco Talosig, was shot dead in Tuguegarao, capital of Cagayan.

Talosig’s killers have not been identified and business rivalry was one of the angles pursued by investigators, but his relatives suspected Domingo, who took over as mayor, of involvement in the murder.

Early last year, agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) raided Talosig’s house in Cabagan town and seized a cache of high-powered guns. The Talosigs also blamed Domingo for the raid, which led to the indictment of the late mayor’s widow for illegal gun possession.

Senior Superintendent Franklin Mabanag, Isabela police director, cited reports that the Talosigs had formed an alliance with Villanueva.

Villanueva had lost to Domingo in 2010.

Isabela Vice Gov. Rodito Albano, meanwhile, vowed that the killers would be put behind bars, "regardless of who they are and who are possibly behind them."

“Mayor Domingo was one of our best performing mayors. We’ll mobilize our official and personal resources to get to the bottom of this killing,” Albano said.

Albano is no stranger to violence. His uncle, Ilagan Mayor Delfinito Albano, was also shot dead in Quezon City in 2007. No one has been arrested.

The vice governor is related to Senior Superintendent Richard Albano, Quezon City police chief, which is handling Domingo’s murder.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Elections is considering whether Maconacon should be classified as an election area of concern. – with Charlie Lagasca, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Jess Diaz, Raymund Catindig, The Philippine Star