Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Layman's Political Look At Voters In Cagayan de Oro

Okay, so I have averred on several occasions that the population of the City of Cagayan de Oro may top over a million. Nobody really knows for sure anyway, so it appears as valid as any guess.

Anyway, here are some irrefutable facts. For the last election cycle in 2007, the total number of registered city voters came out at 219,206. Of that number about 76%voted, coming out to a total of 166,451.

For the current election cycle it is forecasted based on early new registration returns that an increase of 10% will be added to the election rolls, for a total of about 240,000. If we get the same number of people voting during this cycle we should have 182,000 actual voters. Remember both 2007 and 2010 are national elections.

As is arguably implied, three candidates from a total of seven for the city’s top executive position are expected to slug it out for the prize – the incumbent Vice-Mayor, the current Congressman of the 1st district, and our outlier dark horse, former councilor Berchmans Abejuela. A close struggle is expected to ensue, dividing city votes 3 ways. If true as projected, a candidate who is able to garner at least 60,000 votes has a good chance of winning, assuming the two other candidates are able to accumulate similar numbers of votes.

So where are the votes for each major candidate expected to come from?

For the current congressman of the 1st district, he is expected to perform well in his own bailiwick. He resides in Carmen, a district that already has over 20,000 registered voters.

Surprisingly, the entire poblacion of 40 barangays has a total voting population of only about 22K, topping 25K taking into account the projected increase, with Carmen projected to register 22K. Both Carmen and the poblacion pegged 74% actual votes from registered voters during the last cycle.

The first district has total registered voters of 92,929, quite less than the 2nd district’s 126,237.

Aside from Carmen, the first district has the following heavily populated areas registering voters in the high four figures – Balulang, Patag, Kauswagan, and Bulua.

But the 2nd district aside from the poblacion also has high concentration areas like Camaman-an, Macasandig, Bugo, Gusa, Macabalan, Puntod, and with Lapasan registering at the low five figures. Others figuring out prominently are Agusan, Cugman, and Tablon.

We expect Berchmans to perform well with the younger, more motivated and untainted voters so the populations from four city universities will be a constituency that he could court, impress and win over as a solid core constituency.

Another huge, though seethingly silent and disgruntled, constituency should be the many disaffected Cagayanons scattered throughout the city, who have been resigned over these many years to the doggone idea that they have lost their city in many respects. Berchmans comes across as one of them – giving flesh and expression to their once devoted concerns and homegrown values.

Both contending opponents are not only well-entrenched politicians with deep pockets, but are currently public officials which undoubtedly give them better exposure and access to resources not otherwise available to an outside non-officeholder. Look around, on government-installed billboards, signs and images plastered conspicuously on government vehicles, etc, and it is easy to see why they do. Government largesse, or call it pork or whatever, from the ways it is disbursed and accounted for is mistakenly acknowledged to have originated from the personal resources of the government officials named. When in fact since it comes from tax money, really comes from the people themselves.

The current Vice-Mayor of course is the uncrowned kingpin in the city. He had served forever as mayor, governor, and then slid down to vice-mayor because ostensibly it was the only way to perpetuate power. And now, he wants to reclaim his much-desired title.

This will be an interesting election, hopefully a hotly-contested joust majoring in clashes of ideas and public programs of government, rather than the typical toss-up between candidates spiraling down the path of who can outspend whom, or a flagrant contest of temerity or gall to finagle ways to a dubious, or less than honorable, victory.

In the issue of honest transparency and to better appreciate the attendant political capability and credibility of each candidate it is hoped that public forums or debates are held before election time.