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‘Underdog’ Barbers brothers vow good fight vs rival Matugas family

Former Rep. Ace Barbers
By Vanessa L. Almeda

SURIGAO CITY (7 February) – Considered the “underdogs,” the Barbers brothers vowed to give their rival Matugas family a good fight in the May 2013 local political race.

Ace and Lyndon Barbers, both former governors of Surigao del Norte, told the local media that while they may not be “well-oiled,” they have the “public support to bring them back to office.” 

“The election is not about money and I think we are insulting our fellow Surigaonons if that is the case. 

The people can see how the current administration is running the government, and from our visit in the communities, there is a strong clamor for change,” said Ace, who ran but lost in 2010 against now Gov. Sol Matugas. 

“It is God who can decide who will win, and we trust in Him that we have the people’s support,” said Lyndon, who lost to Mayor Ernesto Matugas in the 2010 polls. 

Former Gov. Lyndon Barbers
The Barbers camp had filed a petition at the Commission on Election (Comelec) on the alleged rigging by the Matugases of the 2010 election results. 

The Comelec ruled on the petition last year in favor of the Matugases, but Ace said “it was not a clear victory.” 

Lyndon said that “change” is needed and that change is reverting back to the “old” Surigao, referring to their family’s rule on the province. 

Ace earned national prominence when he became part of the House of Representatives’ so-called “Spice Boys,” which called for the impeachment of then President Joseph Estrada. 

Surigao del Norte was once the bailiwick of the Barbers, when then Senator Robert Z. Barbers was still alive. 

The older brother Ace was then congressman and Lyndon the governor. Another brother became a Makati councilor and later named officer-in-charge of the Department of Tourism and general manager of the Philippine Tourism Authority. 

The political dynasty of the Barbers ended in 2010 when the Matugases swept the key positions in the area. Francisco Matugas won as first district representative, Sol as governor, and Francisco’s younger brother Ernesto as city mayor. 

The hold of the Matugases in the province will be put to a test with the Barbers’ re-entry in local politics. In the fold of the latter is former city mayor Alfonso P. Casurra. 

In the 2010 polls, Cassurra was beaten by Rep. Guillermo Romarate in the congressional race for the second district. In the May 2013 polls, Ace will slug it out with Romarate; Lyndon against Sol; and Casurra, a lawyer, against incumbent Mayor Ernesto “Nitoy” Matugas Reelectionist Francisco will fight it out with another Liberal Party stalwart Gertrudes Saberon. 

 Last year, when Padajon Surigao, the local political party of the Matugases, filed their certificates of candidacy, they “predicted a 10-0 sweep in the city and provincial slates and a clear win in the congressional races.” (Vanessa Almeda/MindaNews)

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