Northern Mindanao 'peaceful' as local campaign kicks off

LANAO DEL NORTE, Philippines – Northern Mindanao was "generally peaceful" during the kickoff of local campaigns, but not without smear campaigns against rival camps.

There were no election-related violence recorded on the first day of the local campaign in the region, Northern Mindanao top cop Brigidier General Timoteo Pacleb said on Saturday, March 30.

Authorities attribute this to the close to 1,000 checkpoints across the region. A gun ban is in effect until the end of the election period on June 12.

"We will maximize our personnel on the streets and increase the frequency of checkpoints in the region to help prevent election-related violent incident from happening, and deter criminals from executing their nefarious activity," Pacleb said.

The only disturbance on Friday was slow traffic in some areas between Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City due to campaign kickoff motorcades.

Since the start of the election period, Northern Mindanao police reported the following accomplishments:

Pacleb reminded unit commanders to remain apolitical and non-partisan as they discharge their duties during the election period.

"We must remain loyal to our sworn duties and maintain our non-partisan and impartial stance on political matters. We must do only what is right and legal. In so doing, we help insulate [Police Regional Office 10] from the issues of partisan politics," Pacleb said.

CDO: The battle of 'cleaner' politicians?

Fired Social Security System (SSS) commissioner and now Cagayan de Oro City mayoral bet Jose Gabriel "Pompee" La Viña began his campaign to replace incumbent Mayor Oscar Moreno.

"Today’s campaign launch is a statement that we intend to go all out to achieve our assigned task – remove Moreno who is riddled with over 100 graft and corruption cases,” La Viña said.

He kicked off his campaign motorcade early Friday in Cogon Market, the city's biggest market, and dubded his campaign as "Bag-ong (New) Cagayan" PaDayon Pilipino.

He held a motorcade from Bulua to Bugo villages and had rallies in both barangays, with senatorial candidate and singer Freddie Aguilar courting Kagay-anons at the proclamation rallies.

La Viña ventured into local politics with accusations against Moreno and even even a campaign against the mayor on social media, accusing him of being the "most corrupt mayor" in the Philippines with over a hundred graft cases. 

Most of the cases had been dismissed, with Moreno calling them "harassment" orchestrated by former mayor Vicente Emano who is running for vice mayor alongside La Viña. (READ: Will he be removed this time? CDO mayor Moreno dismissed again)

La Viña vowed to "bust" corruption in city hall. He said his vision was the develop a new Cagayan on the verge of becoming a  globally-competitive city, with a city university with free tuition for residents. 

“At the core of this dream is the restoration of integrity at city hall, prosecution of graft and corruption cases,” La Viña added.

La Viña first served the Duterte administration as  Social Security System (SSS) commissioner but was sacked due to alleged "abuse"of public funds. Despite this, he was appointed as tourism undersecretary, and later, agriculture undersecretary. (READ: From SSS to tourism: Who is Pompee La Viña?)

La Vina, also popularly known as Pompee, leads Bag-ong Cagayan Coalition, an alliance of the city’s largest political parties: Padayon Pilipino led by Emano and the Centrist Democratic Party led by former congressman Rufus Rodriguez.

Apart from La Viña and Moreno, former journalist Ben Contreras and handyman-craftsman Felix Borres are running for the mayoral post.

Moreno's PDP-Laban campaign will kick off at Plaza Divisoria on Saturday, March 30. – Rappler.com