By Ben Rosario
With 34 congressional bets running unopposed and thus, assured of seats, the need for a two-party system has become essential in ensuring checks and balance in governance.
Senior House Minority Leader and Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza warned that the country’s democracy has started to come “dysfunctional” as voters are left with little or no choice for candidates seeking elective posts.
Aside from the 34 sure winners, dozens other candidates, including those running in Metro Manila and other urban centers, squared off yesterday with nuisance bets or patsies.
Among them are incumbent Rep. Lord Allan Velasco of Marinduque and Martin Romualdez of Tacloban City. Both are eyeing the speakership.
Atienza said dozens of candidates for governor, mayor and other local posts are likewise running without rivals.
“Having a lone candidate for an elective post is bad for voters who are left with no choice,” said Atienza.
Majority of those running unopposed belong to political dynasties in their respective congressional districts.
Others are beneficiaries of internal arrangements between political clans.
Atienza said the system of checks and balance will suffer as a result of the current political situation in the country.
“It is also bad for government and for our system of checks and balances, and bad for our political parties as well,” Atienza, former three-term mayor of Manila, said.
Commission on Elections (Comelec) records show that 34 congressional candidates are running unchallenged.
The list of unopposed congressional bets:
• Neptali Gonzales II (Mandaluyong City);
• Dale Malapitan (Caloocan City);
• Wesley Gatchalian (Valenzuela City);
• Abraham Tolentino (Cavite);
• Strike Revilla (Cavite);
• Luis Ferrer IV (Cavite);
• Alex Advincula (Cavite);
• Danilo Fernandez (Laguna);
• Joaquin Chipeco Jr. (Calamba City);
• Resureccion Acop (Antipolo City);
• Henry Villarica (Bulacan);
• Cristina Garcia (Bataan);
• Charlie Cojuangco (Tarlac);
• Mario Mariño (Batangas);
• Franz Alvarez (Palawan);
• Mark Enverga (Quezon);
• Angelina Tan (Quezon);
• Junie Cua (Quirino);
• Pablo Ortega (La Union);
• Elias Bulut (Apayao);
• Ramon Nolasco Jr. (Cagayan);
• Arnulfo Teves Jr. (Negros Oriental);
• Ma. Lourdes Arroyo (Negros Occidental);
– Leo Cueva (Negros Occidental)
• Jose Benitez (Negros Occidental);
• Vincent Garcia (Davao City);
• Isidro Ungab (Davao City);
• Corazon Malanyaon (Davao Oriental);
• Joel Mayo Almario (Davao Oriental);
• Lorna Bautista-Bandigan (Davao Occidental);
• Ruwel Gonzaga (Compostella Valley);
• Jose Tejada (Cotabato);
• Manuel Zubiri (Bukidnon); and
• Bai Rihan Sakaluran (Sultan Kudarat).
Acop, Villarica, Nolasco, Benitez and Sakaluran will enter the House of Representatives as neophyte members.
“Just like in business, competition is absolutely necessary to provide consumers – in this case voters – greater freedom to choose, and to encourage fair play,” Atienza said.
He noted: “What is happening now is that many candidates are just negotiating among themselves, with the stronger ones usually buying out their weaker rivals. Puro usap-usapan na lang.”
Atienza called for a return to the two-party system where two major political parties dominate the government.
“As long as we have at least two dominant parties all the time, it is okay to have multiple political parties,” Atienza said.