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The end of an era

"Can the Cunetas ever stage a comeback in Pasay?"

 


There was a time when Pasay City was synonymous with the name Cuneta. After all, it was ruled by Pablo Cuneta for 41 years as mayor, from 1947 to 1998, interrupted only twice when he lost to Jovito Claudio in 1967 and when he voluntarily stepped down in 1986 as the Cory Aquino administration started appointing officers-in-charge to replace local government officials.

But that was eons ago and the political scenery of Pasay city has dramatically changed. In fact, some old-time city denizens even regard the Cunetas as distant memories.

And this perception of the Pasayeños seems to manifest in the forthcoming elections. If the results of the survey conducted by The Center is proven to be accurate come May 13, it would take more than the Cunetas’ political history and the showbiz appeal of one its family member to seriously mount a comeback.

With her overwhelming lead over Cesar Cuneta, brother of showbiz personality Sharon Cuneta (Pablo’s children by her second wife, Elaine), Emi Calixto-Rubiano has reportedly slowed down on her campaign sorties in the city except for the usual KBL (Kasal, Binyag, Libing) commitments.

In The Center’s pre-poll survey, Calixto-Rubiano, incumbent congressman of the city, who is gunning for the mayoralty post, swapping positions with her brother, Mayor Antonio, showed what seems to be an insurmountable 67-percent lead over Cuneta, gaining the approval of 79 percent of the respondents as against the latter who garnered 12 percent.

Other mayoralty candidates aside from Rubiano and Cuneta who figured in the The Center’s survey were lawyer Edward Togonon (3 percent), lawyer Tin Ching (1 percent) and JT Trindad (1 percent). 

The Center’s survey also showed that incumbent Mayor Tony Calixto who is on his third and last term as City Chief Executive will definitely be the city’s next representative with about 90 percent of the respondents saying they will vote for Calixto to be their representative when the 18th Congress opens in July. As in the mayoralty election, the elder Calixto is merely going through the motions of the political campaign as those running for the same position could only come up with single-digit preferences, e.g., Efren Alas (4 percent), Elmer Mitra (2 percent), Pete Ordiales (1 percent) and Metel Gebolinga (0.5 percent).

Some 4 percent said they have not decided yet whom to vote for mayor while only 2.5 percent are undecided when asked for their preference in the congressional elections. 

It was a bit close in the vice mayoralty elections with reelectionist Vice Mayor Boyet del Rosario posting a 63-percent preference over the 29 percent given to Richard Advincula who appears to be the only serious challenger for the position. Bong Tebelin and Armand Magbanua both posted 1%. 

What was then billed to be a close race for the mayoralty position turned into a dud as the none of the candidates could even come close to the campaign machinery of the Calixtos. 

It was previously claimed that voters may be attracted to the drawing power of artist Sharon Cuneta but this did not come about for the simple reason that the drawing power of the Megastar is not transferable. 

In analyzing the electoral exercise in Pasay City, Ed Malay, director of The Center and former Public Relations and Media Adviser of Former President Fidel V. Ramos, said it would have been different if it were the Megastar who ran for Mayor, but still there is more to running for Mayor than just bank on show business popularity. 

Malay said that there’s a lot of difference between showbiz appeal and political mass appeal and if the Cunetas want to return to the politics of Pasay City, they will have to start investing in it once the smoke of the 2019 poll season dissipates. 

Establishing a political network all the way down to the grassroots takes time and even three years may not be enough. Malay pointed out that candidates in the 2022 polls will have to do more in terms of being one with the people especially with the kind of political demographics in Pasay City. 

But maybe, the Cunetas could still stage a comeback. But again, maybe not at this point in time.

Topics: Charlie Manalo , Pablo Cuneta , Pasay City , The Center , pre-poll survey
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