“This looks like an exciting election season.”
Will the electorate of Quezon City witness a political contest between incumbent Mayor Josefina “Joy” Belmonte and Anakalusugan Partylist Representative Michael “Mike” Defensor in the May 2022 national elections?
Both camps are heavily building up political tentacles in a bid to get a dominating slice of the city’s 1.2 million votes, according to people familiar with Quezon City politics.
The Defensor party has formed a new political alliance that people may find a game changer and further excite the political dynamics going on in the premiere city as the elections draw closer.
Mayor Joy Belmonte, on the other hand, continues to have a tighter grip of the 142 barangay (village) captains and loyal leaders in the city’s six districts.
The mayor also banks on the established network and time-tested machinery of her father, former Speaker of the House Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte.
The new alliance called Malayang Quezon City may tip the scales in favor of its organizers led by long-time legislators Bingbong Crisologo, Winnie Castelo and Michael Defensor. Murmurs are spreading like forest fire that this new party will be the vehicle for Defensor’s mayoralty bid?
If one is to look at the results of the 2019 midterm election, Belmonte and Vice Mayor Gian Sotto won by narrow margins. Belmonte enjoyed a lead of only 100,000 votes over Crisologo, while Sotto captured 30,000 more votes than Jopet Sison, Crisologo’s tandem partner. There are an estimated 1.2 million voters registered in Quezon City.
This outcome was contrary to a landslide result projected by the Belmonte-Sotto camp after then 2nd District Rep. Winnie Castelo withdrew his plan to be Crisologo’s vice-mayoralty candidate in the 2019 election. Castelo is a distant relative of Sotto.
Talks are now rife that Malayang QC stalwarts have begun talks to field its own mayoralty and vice-mayoralty candidates for the 2022 elections. Malayang QC marks the alliance of Castelo, Crisologo and Defensor of Anakalusugan Partylist.
While the new political group has yet to officially name its mayoralty and vice-mayoralty bets, the alliance is expected to be a game-changer in Quezon City politics. The rumor mill also implies that former Mayor Herbert Bautista is joining the group.
This means a bigger challenge for Belmonte to retain her seat and earn the majority of the 1.2 million votes of the country’s most populous city. To her benefit, Joy had earned grassroots patronage with equally strong leaders supporting her.
Political pundits, however, look at the tripartite unity of Castelo, Crisologo and Defensor as a tough power block to contend with. This early, Malayang QC has the makings of a well-organized party with leaders in each of the six QC districts.
Looking at its political machinery, Malayang QC has Onyx Crisologo for District 1; Precious Castelo for District 2; and Allan Reyes for District 3.
Congressman Jesus Suntay of the 4th District is the only incumbent legislator remaining in the camp of Mayor Joy Belmonte.
As mentioned above, Malayang QC is led by three well-known QC political leaders. Defensor, 52, began his political career in Quezon City, where he was a member of the city council from 1992 to 1995. He was elected as representative of the city’s 3rd District in 1995 and won reelection in 1998. He served the Arroyo Cabinet until 2010. He currently represents Anakalusugan Party-list in the Lower House.
Vincent “Bingbong” Crisologo, 74, was a member of the Quezon City Council, representing the 1st District, from 1998 to 2004. He was elected to Congress in 2004 and won reelection twice, completing the nine-year term limit for members of the House. He regained his seat as congressman in 2016. In 2019, he lost to Joy Belmonte for the mayoralty post.
Winston “Winnie” Castelo served three terms in Congress from 2010 to 2019. His wife, Precious Hipolito Castelo, replaced him as 2nd District representative.
With the three legislators at the helm of Malayang Quezon City, political pundits are expecting a more exciting election in May 2022.
Dindo Danao is a public relations strategist.