Businesswoman Grace Ibuna, partner of the late Rep. Ignacio Arroyo Jr., yesterday said she is throwing her full support to Binalbagan Mayor Alejandro Mirasol in his bid for congressman of the fifth district of Negros Occidental in the special polls set in June.
But if he does not run, she will throw her hat into the race, she added.
Ibuna has been a registered voter of Hacienda Grande Robles in La Castellana town in the fifth district since 2009 and is eligible to run in the special polls, Commission on Elections records show.
The special polls set by the COMELEC for June 2 is being held after the 5th congressional seat of Negros Occidental was declared vacant following the death of Rep. Arroyo in London on January 26.
Mirasol and his nephew Board Member Emilio Yulo III yesterday called off a mini election scheduled to be participated in by officials of the fifth district, from the barangay to municipal and city officials today. The process was supposed to determine who among the two, who are members of the influential Yulo clan, would run for congressman of the district.
“I will definitely run, unless stopped by divine intervention,” Yulo said yesterday.
Mirasol, on the other hand, said he will wait for the decision of the United Negros Alliance, of which he is a member, on whom it will field.
“I will respect the decision of Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. who is the chairman of UNA. Like a good soldier, I will abide by the party’s choice,” Mirasol said.
Aside from Mirasol another UNA aspirant for the 5th congressional seat is Board Member Melvin Ibañez.
A meeting between Marañon and fifth district officials of UNA was held Thursday but the governor said no decision had been made yet on whom the party will field.
Mirasol is seen as the Aquino administration’s candidate and widely believed to be the eventual choice of UNA. He was the first mayor of Negros Occidental to openly campaign for President Benigno Aquino in the 2010 polls.
The mini election among leaders of the 5th district to help Mirasol and Yulo decide who among them should run for congressman was called off yesterday afternoon after a meeting between the two.
Mirasol said they decided not to hold the selection process between the two of them today. “We will just talk about the matter between the two of us, the elections are a long time away yet,” Mirasol said.
The special polls are expected to be held on June 2.
Yulo, on the other hand, said they could not agree on how the ballots would appear in the polls among leaders of the district today, so no consensus was reached on who among the two of them will run.
While they will both continue talking, there appears to be no solution in sight, both and of them could end up running for the post, unless divine intervention occurs, Yulo said.
Other likely contenders for the fifth congressional seat aside from Mirasol, Yulo, and Ibañez are Rep. Arroyo’s sister, former Kasangga Rep. Ma Lourdes Arroyo Lesaca, and former Board Member Enrique Montilla.
Yulo is a member of the Nacionalista Party.
Rumors yesterday said that money had already been dispersed among barangay officials ahead of the mini election that was supposed to be take place today, to win over voters.
Yulo said he would neither deny nor confirm talk that his opponent was engaged in such activity.
Ibuna was scheduled to be in the fifth district today to campaign for Mirasol among the leaders there, because she said she believes he is the one who can carry on the programs Rep. Arroyo started for the people in the district.
However, since the selection process had been called off, she said she will return to the district at a later date to launch a foundation in the name of Rep. Arroyo to continue his legacy and to campaign for Mirasol.
But if Mirasol does not run for congressman of the fifth district she will go for the post, she added.
“I only want someone who will continue the projects Iggy started there,” she said.
“Mirasol, like Iggy, is a man of few words and a man of action who has done a lot for Binalbagan,” Ibuna said. She believes he shares the advocacy of Rep. Arroyo of boosting education, livelihood opportunities and development in the fifth district, Ibuna said.
What she likes about Mirasol is his sincerity and word of honor, which “defines him as a good man”, Ibuna said.
In the years she spent in the fifth district with Rep. Arroyo she has grown to love the people, and will be forever grateful for the outpouring of love they showed her partner on his death, that is why she wants to see that their best interests are protected by the right congressman, Ibuna added.
She said she does not want to run for congresswoman as she wants to make up for lost time with her children and is still grieving for her partner, but “I don’t want the fifth district to fall in the wrong hands.”
”I don’t want to run, but if it’s my destiny and my calling I’ll abide by it. I am only for the welfare of the people of the fifth district who showed so much love for Iggy, that will never leave my heart,” she said.
“There is never a day that I don’t miss Iggy, and I am standing up for him,” she said.
She said her sister, Joy, the other day dreamt of the congressman. “He told her to tell me to continue what I am doing and to fight for what I think is right because he knows I am strong and can do it,” Ibuna also said.
Bayan Rep. Neri Colmenares last night said he is calling for automated polls in the fifth district to hasten the counting of the results and to prevent charges of fraud that could delay the proclamation of a winner.
He is also calling on House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, who is the de facto caretaker of the fifth district, to continue implementing projects in the area as it will take some time before a new congressman is elected and assumes his post there.*CPG