Sunday, March 13, 2011


Its all over, Vice Mayor Baby Aline Vargas-Alfonso is now the duly elected Representative of the second Distict of this province dislodging the last of the stalwarts of President Noynoy Aquino’s Liberal Party a one-on-one fight in the special elections held last Saturday. Former Governor Edgar Ramones Lara, conceded stating his call to unite for the progress of Cagayan. The new Congresswoman who is incumbent vice mayor of the Vargas scion hometown of Abulug, Cagayan has been proclaimed by the Commission on Elections by a wide margin shortly before midnight just as Lara issued a press statement conceding defeat to the daughter of late Rep. Florencio Vargas. The latter’s death in June last year had precipitated the conduct of said special election.
Alfonso’s candidacy was backed by the influential machinery of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Gov. Alvaro Antonio, both founding leaders of Team Cagayan, where the Vargases’ political party, Lakas-Kampi-CMD, is affiliated.
Lara, who, himself, served as the district’s congressman for three consecutive terms before being elected governor for two terms, ran under the banner of President Aquino’s Liberal Party, whose almost entire slate was wiped out by the Team Cagayan in last year’s polls.
Lawyer Catherine Allas, Cagayan election supervisor, said that they went on to proclaim Alfonso, considering her already insurmountable lead over Lara, even though the elections returns from the remote towns of Calayan and Rizal, which are around 19,000 votes, have yet to be officially canvassed.

“We no longer waited for the (Calayan and Rizal) results. This would no longer affect (Alfonso’s) lead. Of the (district’s) 10 canvassed towns, Lara only won in (his hometown of) Lasam,” said Allas, describing the conduct of the poll as generally peaceful.

The provincial board of canvassers proclaimed Alfonso after obtaining a commanding lead of 69,461 votes over Lara’s 26,587 or an overwhelming margin of 42,874.
“We can now look forward to resuming the plans and programs of my father which had been held in abeyance since his death. We also doff our hat to our opponent who had conducted a high-level campaign. He can still offer his services to the people even in a private capacity,” said Alfonso, also a former three-term Abulug town mayor.

Alfonso’s father, then third term-seeking 72-year-old Rep. Vargas had also bested Lara in their congressional fight in last year’s election only to succumb to an illness in June last year or a week before the opening of the present Congress.

Lara, whose camp blamed massive irregularities as the cause of his election defeat against then Alcala town mayor now Governor Antonio in their 2007 gubernatorial race, conceded defeat to Alfonso, even congratulating her for her victory.

“I offered myself to be in service of our people. They have made their choice. I must respect that. It has become clear to me that the brand of politics I offered no longer fit the temperament of our electorate. This is a glaring fact I must accept. My congratulations to Madam Alfonso. God bless our people,” said the vanquished Lara.

Besides Abulug, Calayan, Lasam and Rizal, Cagayan’s second district, which has 154,692 registered voters, also comprises the towns of Allacapan, Ballesteros, Claveria, Pamplona, Sanchez Mira, Santa Praxedes, Piat and Santo NiƱo.

Earlier, the Comelec noted a dismal turnout of voters, which it said could have been attributed to the tsunami scare that engulfed residents despite authorities’ already having lifted the tsunami alert throughout the country before the election date .

“Residents who were evacuated from their homes due to the tsunami alert were scared of returning to their homes and eventually to vote, which somehow resulted in the low turnout of voters,” Allas said.

Of the district’s 12 towns, eight - Abulug, Allacapan, Ballesteros, Claveria, Pamplona, Sanchez Mira, Santa Praxedes and Calayan - had been alerted for a possible tsunami attack.

As per the poll body’s earlier resolution, the election period, which started last Feb. 10, will end on March 22. CCL/RFC

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