CABANATUAN CITY -- A former governor whose family has reigned for 48 years at the Capitol, a former three-term municipal mayor, and a brother-in-law of Gov. Czarina “Cherry” Umali plus four other candidates are among the aspirants in next year’s gubernatorial elections in Nueva Ecija.
Barring any changes until Nov. 29 under the substitution of bets rule of the Commission on Elections, it will be a seven-cornered fight for governor in the province come 2019 midterm polls.
The gubernatorial protagonists are led by so-called ‘heavyweights” -- former governor Eduardo Nonato “Edno” Joson, former three-term General Tinio mayor Virgilio Bote, and Gil Raymond “Lemon” Umali, elder brother of former Gov. Aurelio M. Umali.
Eduardo Nonato, also a former congressman, assemblyman and National Food Authority administrator during then President Joseph “Erap” Estrada’s term, is a scion of the Joson political clan which produced a succession of governors that started from the late patriarch Eduardo “Tatang” Joson Sr. and passed on to his two sons -- Tomas III, the eldest and next to Eduardo Nonato before they were dethroned at the Capitol when then-congressman Aurelio M. Umali trounced in a landslide victory another sibling -- Mariano Cristino for the governorship in 2007, thus ending the Josons’s 48 year-grip at the Capitol.
Eduardo Nonato is running as an independent in lieu of the Joson-led local coalition Bagong Lakas ng Nueva Ecija, while Bote is with the administration party’s PDP-Laban, and Gil Raymond is with the Umali-led Unang Sigaw Partido ng Pagbabago (USSP) local ticket. Gil Raymond was reportedly a third nominee of the Sinag party-list during the 2016 polls.
Four other gubernatorial contenders are joining the fray in the person of Constantino De Leon, an independent, Renato Reynaldo Maliwat, a physician in Talavera, Nueva Ecija who is with the Democratic Party of the Philippines, Roberto Gavina, of Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, and Apolinario Balutan, of Lapian.