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On May 9, only 1 candidate will lose in Sarangani town

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Renny Boy Takyawan (C), a Tagakaolo Lumad, campaigns in tribal communities to boost his chances as candidate for municipal councilor of Malungon, Sarangani. Photo courtesy of Genory Vanz Alfasain

MALUNGON, Sarangani (MindaNews / 29 April) – Only eleven candidates are vying for local positions in this quaint town in Sarangani Province’s western end in the May 9 general elections.

That would mean only one candidate will lose after all the ballots have been counted for local positions.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) registered 74,875 qualified voters in this town, where about 40 percent of the population belong to the indigenous Blaan and Tagakaolo tribes.

Malungon Mayor lawyer Maria Theresa Constantino and Vice Mayor Mariano Escalada Jr. are running unopposed, but still continue to campaign for their complete slate under the Pacquiao-led People’s Champ Movement (PCM).

The nine other candidates – eight under PCM – are gunning for the eight-seat Sangguniang Bayan. The PCM bets would have been assured of winning until a lone independent candidate, Renny Boy Takyawan, who belongs to the Tagakaolo tribe, joined the local political fray.

A newbie in politics, Takyawan was first invited to run for a Sarangani provincial board seat under the Aksyon Demokratiko, but withdrew at the last hour to file his certificate of candidacy for municipal councilor in this town as an independent.

“It’s an uphill battle, a formidable challenge to go against a group of old hands in local politics,” Takyawan, a known coffee farmer and an active community and humanitarian worker, said on Friday.

His popularity can frustrate any of the PCM bets in the municipal council race which many locals have now likened to the game show, The Weakest Link.

The eight, who are mostly incumbents – Bing Alegario, Erwin Asgapo, Toto Constantino, Beboy Nallos, Victor Padernilla, Rodrigo Palec, Romel Retuya and Eddie Yuzon – were said to have been working double-time to woo votes and thwart an attempt by Takyawan to dislodge one of them.

Given a full slate of opponents with the mayor and the vice mayor unopposed, Takyawan has made it clear in his community sorties that he is friends with his rivals and only wants to bring the voice of the indigenous communities in crafting policies and laws in the town.

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Renny Boy Takyawan. Photo courtesy of Genory Vanz Alfasain

“Almost half of our population are Blaan and Tagakaolo peoples, but we have no voice in the municipal council for quite a time now,” he said.

Takyawan, who claimed to be an acquaintance of the mayor, said he was left pondering over the latter’s recent social media post meant for Malungon residents, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

“I am alone in my quest and I want to go fast,” the 33-year old Takyawan quipped.

Under the law, unopposed candidates need to get at least a vote to be proclaimed winners, said Malungon Comelec officer Francisca Josol.

She said all 11 candidates have forged a pact to uphold clean and honest elections. (Rommel Rebollido/MindaNews)

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