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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, March 15, 2012
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Albee: 5th district polls
late April or early May


A special election for the fifth congressional seat of Negros Occidentalthat the House of Representatives has declared vacant following the death of Rep. Ignacio Arroyo Jr. is expected to be held in the last week of April or first week of May, Rep. Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District) said yesterday.

House Resolution 2171 adopted as HR 00248 Monday night certifies the existence of a vacancy in the House of Representatives, particularly in the seat allotted to the fifth congressional district of the province of Negros Occidental, and calls for a special election to fill such vacancy, Benitez said.

The approved resolution was transmitted to the COMELEC on Tuesday and the poll body is expected to come out with the calendar of activities for the special election next week, he said.

Benitez said he was told the special polls are expected to be held either in the last week of May or the first week of April.But Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer (Neg. Occ., 4th District) said the side of COMELEC would have to be heard first. House records show that the resolution was authored by Rep. Alfredo Marañon III (Neg. Occ, 2nd District) and co-authored by Benitez and Rep. Julio Ledesma IV (Neg. Occ., 1st District).

Benitez said it will be up to the United Negros Alliance and Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. to choose their party's candidate.The governor yesterday said he will wait for the official notice that a special election will be held and convene UNA leaders, especially in the fifth district, to determine whom they will field.

The potential UNA candidates for the post are Binalbagan Mayor Alejandro Mirasol, and Board Members Melvin Ibañez and Emilio Yulo III.Mirasol said he it would be an honor if he were chosen by UNA, he is prepared to run for the post.

Ibañez said will submit himself to the selection process of UNA, otherwise he can always run for reelection as board member of the fifth district in May next year.A source said UNA is conducting or survey to determine the winnability of their bets.

Former Kasangga Rep. Ma. Lourdes Arroyo Lesaca, sister of Ignacio Arroyo, may not be able to run in the special elections because she has not establish a one-year residency in the fifth district, and will only be able to vie for the post in the regular polls in May 2013, a source said.

But Lesaca yesterday said that is not true, she has voted in the fifth district, her lawyers are addressing the matter of her running for the post. She confirmed that she is running in the special elections in the fifth district.

Also said to be eyeing the fifth congressional seat is former Board Member Enrique Montilla.It is not known if Rep. Arroyo’s partner, Grace Ibuna, will run for the post as she has refused to answer the question saying she is still grieving for the death of the congressman.

The congressman died in London on January 26 after a long battle with cirrhosis of the liver.Negros Occidental election supervisor Jessie Suarez said they are waiting for orders from the COMELEC head office on when to hold the special polls.

We are ready for it, he said.As of January 16, 2012 the fifth district of Negros Occidental had 206,466 registered voters, he added.There are 50,506, voters in Himamaylan City Binalbagan – 29,200, Hinigaran – 41,682, Isabela – 28,835, La Castellana – 36,307 and Moises Padilla – 20,936, Suarez said.

The COMELEC commissioners meet every Tuesday and Thursday so a decision could be made on the fifth district special polls when they meet again, Suarez said.He said that, in a special congressional election in Zambales, the filing of Certificates of Candidacy was set for two days and the campaign period lasted 15 days, which fell within the 45-day election period.

Although the regular election is set on May 13 next year, the terms of office of elected officials expire on June 30, 2013, he said.*CPG

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