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Half of governors running unopposed.

THE FACT that roughly half of the country's 81 governors are running unopposed in 2016 has been taken by the Liberal Party (LP) as a vote of approval of President Aquino's daang matuwid (straight path) reforms.

LP presidential candidate Mar Roxas said having uncontested gubernatorial elections were proof that the public wanted the status quo to continue.

Roxas said people normally wanted to change their governors if they were not happy with how they had been running their provinces. If a governor was popular, he said, there would be fewer rivals eager to slug it out in an election.

Whether they are from the administration or the opposition, the benefits that provinces obtained during the governors' reign comes from the government, he said.

Roxas, whose main platform was the continuation of daang matuwid for another six years, said that Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), or the share of provinces, cities, towns and barangays from government revenues based on their land area and population, has been increasing between 10 percent and 15 percent every year under the Aquino administration.

The IRA has increased by 47 percent to P390 billion this year from P266 billion in 2010.

The IRA is a reflection of the economic growth and improving tax collection under the administration, both are the fruits of 'daang matuwid' reforms, said Roxas, who noted that local government units depend on 50 percent to 90 percent of their annual budget from the IRA.

LP coalition spokesperson and Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo said having virtually half of the provincial governors running unopposed was a first in the country's history and highly unusual in a national election year where national parties would insist on having local candidates in all provinces.

Quimbo cited two reasons for this phenomenon.

First, those who have financial gain as their objective in seeking office have been strongly discouraged by transparency measures. Second, the principle of 'the equity of the incumbent' has been strengthened by a great increase in national government funding for infrastructures of a scale that's never been seen. Massive infrastructure programs are being undertaken in all places regardless of the color of the politics vest worn by the governor, said Quimbo.

He said most national programs have been perceived as the work of governors, which has only endeared the incumbents to the voters.

Among the provinces cited by Roxas as those whose results have already been decided due to lack of strong political rivals are Pampanga, Bataan, Zambales, Tarlac, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Quezon, Albay, Camarines Sur, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya and Isabela.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Dec 20, 2015
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