Antonino scion ends Villareal reign in southern Ecija
- Manny Galvez () - May 27, 2004 - 12:00am
JAEN, Nueva Ecija — A scion of the late Sen. Gaudencio Antonino Sr. and former Sen. Magnolia Antonino, has ended the Villareal family’s decades-long political dominance in the vote-rich fourth congressional district of this province.

Rodolfo "Rody" Antonino, an Economics graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University, surprised political oddmakers by trouncing re-electionist Rep. Raoul Villareal, husband of former two-term Rep. Julita Villareal, by garnering 104,328 votes over the lawmaker’s 72,803 votes — or a margin of 31,525 votes.

Antonino won in five fourth district towns — Cabiao, Gen. Tinio, Peñaranda, San Leonardo and this town — and lost by small margins in Gapan City and in the towns of San Isidro and San Antonio.

A native of Barangay Langla here, Antonino posted his biggest margin in this municipality where he got 20,015 votes against Villareal’s 6,973 — or a difference of 13,042 votes.

In his hometown of San Isidro, Villareal defeated Antonino by a mere 779 votes.

The Villareals have ruled congressional polls in the fourth district since 1995 when Julita defeated her estranged brother, then Rep. Victorio Lorenzo. Julita won a second term in 1998.

She gave way to her husband in 2001 due to the absence of a credible opposition, in a political master stroke that angered her ally then, Gov. Tomas Joson III, which led to their break-up.

The incumbent congressman’s downfall was believed caused by a sheer case of overconfidence as Raoul reportedly did not campaign in the district. He dismissed Antonino as a mere "pretender."

Aside from the support of Joson, Antonino’s candidacy was also believed boosted by the endorsement of Lorenzo and former congressman Nicanor de Guzman Jr. who defeated Antonino in the 1987 polls.

Antonino, of the Bagong Lakas ng Nueva Ecija (Balane), is the youngest of four children of Gaudencio and Magnolia.

Gaudencio was senator from 1961 to 1967. He was the one who introduced the insurance program for barangay officials and sat as a member of the monetary board of the Central Bank.

He died in a helicopter crash a day before the elections and was replaced by Magnolia who won.

Magnolia, who is now 92, joined her son in some of his campaign sorties.

One of the congressman-elect’s brothers, Adelbert, was congressman for two terms of South Cotabato and mayor for two terms of General Santos City. His wife, Lualhati, also became congressman of South Cotabato.

Their daughter, Darlene, has just been re-elected congressman of South Cotabato following a landslide victory.

During the campaign, Rodolfo capitalized on the Antonino name recall to reach out to voters and used a popular saying, "Kung ano ang puno siya ang bunga" to drive home the point.

ANTONINO BAGONG LAKAS BARANGAY LANGLA CENTRAL BANK GAPAN CITY GAUDENCIO AND MAGNOLIA GAUDENCIO ANTONINO SR. GENERAL SANTOS CITY GUZMAN JR. NUEVA ECIJA SOUTH COTABATO
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