PANGASINAN TOWN GIVES FPJ ZERO VOTE

STO. TOMAS, PANGASINAN,  May 12, 2004
(STAR)
By Eva Visperas – This one is for the books. Movie actor Fernando Poe Jr. did not get any single vote here.

The STAR found out that in all the 34 precincts in the town, no one voted for the popular actor-turned-politician. Of the 6,737 registered voters in the town’s 10 barangays, 5,668 actually cast their votes in Monday’s polls but 5,470 voted for President Arroyo.

Acting election officer Daniel Mendita said the rest opted to leave their ballots blank for president.

Municipal Treasurer Julieta Alvarado said that voters here just wanted to show how much they support Ma-yor Antonio "Bebot" Villar Jr.

"Talagang trademark na ng Sto.Tomas yan na kung sino ang susuportahan ni Sir (Villar) talagang susuportahan din ng mga tao (It’s the trademark now of Sto. Tomas that whoever is supported by our Mayor will also be supported by the people)," Alvarado said.

In 2001, when Villar supported fifth district Rep. Mark Cojuangco, the townsfolk also gave Cojuangco’s rivals zero vote.

Villar, who does not belong to any party, told The STAR that he supported Mrs. Arroyo because he believes in her leadership.

Asked what happened to Poe’s poll watchers, he said "Wala siyang poll watcher dito. Walang me gusto (He had no poll watchers. No one is interested)."

Villar, founder of Biskeg na Pangasinan (Strength of Pangasinan), a powerful group of political leaders composed of mayors, vice mayors, board members, councilors and congressmen in the province, gave their all-out support to Mrs. Arroyo.

In 1986, Villar, who is already mayor of the town then, also gave zero vote for then presidential bet Corazon Aquino. Surprisingly, it was only Villar who was never replaced by an officer-in-charge during the massive reorganization that followed the first EDSA uprising.

Villar recalled that at that time, even nuns and foreign correspondents were around to strictly monitor the electoral process here.

He said, "You know what? The nuns said in chorus, ‘My God, it’s true. It’s really zero.‘"

Just before Martial Law was declared,Villar, who was then only 24 years old, was elected as the town’s youngest mayor. He held the position until 1992. He was succeeded by his wife, Vivien, who served the town until 2001. He returned to his old post in 2001. All these years, the Villars ran unopposed.

Villar’s grandfather, Timoteo, and his father, Antonio, also served this town as mayor. The elder Villar was later elected as vice governor and congressman.

This explains why the people are loyal to him. He is also known to be generous and kind-hearted, especially to the poor, the people said.

Villasis Mayor Nonato Abrenica said, "Di na nakapagtataka yan. Kayang-kaya ni Manong Bebot yan. Alam mo naman kung gaano katindi ang respeto ng mga tao sa kanya (It’s no longer surprising. Manong Bebot can easily do that. You know how the people respect him)."

Meanwhile, the incoming local officials in the town all ran unopposed. Vivien Villar got 5,204 votes while her vice mayor, Wilfredo Pescador, got 4,849 votes.

The elected councilors were Timoteo Villar III (4,929 votes), Lydia Manzano (3,665), Lita Judan (3, 622), Ely Ramos (3,533), Renato Casco (3,483), Gaudencio Ordoño Jr. (3,315), Donald Seismundo (3,229) and June Noces (3,217).

Meanwhile, fifth district board bember Dionisio Villar Jr., the mayor’s cousin, also ran unopposed and got 5,095 votes. — With Cesar Ramirez


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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