Governor-elect Victorino Dennis Socrates (left) and vice governor-elect Leoncio "Onsoy" Ola.

(UPDATED) The Commission on Elections on Tuesday proclaimed current vice governor Victorino Dennis Socrates as the winning candidate for the Palawan governorship, capping a tightly held contest marked by the return bid of former governor and controversial candidate Joel Reyes.

Socrates’ victory over Reyes was a reprise of their run for the 2nd district congressional seat during the 2010 elections, which he also won by a close margin.

Prior to this election, Reyes’ political career had spun into a deep dive after he was indicted for murder in 2011 and opted to flee the country to hide for over three years. He also started serving jail time for a graft conviction in 2017 but managed to secure a Supreme Court ruling granting him temporary liberty.

Reyes, however, made a surprising comeback attempt when he filed his candidacy for the governorship during this election. Embarking on the campaign trail hobbled by a new arrest warrant over the Gerry Ortega murder case, he quickly emerged as a major contender by rekindling his old political support base.

PBOC members raise the hand of vice governor-elect Leoncio “Onsoy” Ola on March 11, 2022.

“If he had more time to campaign, the outcome could have been more tilted in his favor,” a Reyes supporter who asked not to be named said.

For his part, Socrates has vowed to pursue a consultative policy.

“Ang unang gagawin ko ay magpatawag ng summit, because I feel, what this province badly needs is an ‘honest to goodness conversation,” he said in an earlier interview.

Socrates’ win was part of a double victory for the administration ticket, as outgoing governor Jose Alvarez unseated Cyrille Abueg-Zaldivar for the 2nd congressional district post.

PBOC members raise the hand of 2nd district congressman-elect Jose Ch. Alvarez on March 11, 2022. The members of the PBOC are lawyers Arlando Urbano (chairman, first from left), Alen Ross Rodriguez (vice chairperson, 2nd from left), and Maricar-Misa Tan (member-secretary, 1st from right)

Alvarez, who completed three terms as governor, outlined his legislative agenda, targeting poverty as his priority.
“Southern Palawan is the most deprived in terms of livelihood, tourism arrivals, so on and so forth. My promise is to fix the road to the barangays para kung ano yung maproduce ay mailabas nila. We will make a law to address that not only in Palawan but all over the country,” he told Palawan News.

Rep. Gil Acosta Jr., also of the administration ticket, lost to former city mayor Edward Hagedorn in the 3rd congressional district.

Come-backing former Rep. Antonio Alvarez also lost to newbie challenger Egay Salvame in the 1st congressional district.