Vegetable seller beats powerful political family to become town’s mayor in the Philippines

Rodrigo Rivera, a market vendor, becomes town mayor in Eastern Samar, Philippines. Image: Rodrigo Onoy Rivera (Facebook)
Rodrigo Rivera, a market vendor, becomes town mayor in Eastern Samar, Philippines. Image: Rodrigo Onoy Rivera (Facebook)

A market vendor who sells vegetables in the town of Dolores in Eastern Samar was elected the municipality’s mayor in last week’s election, beating the brother of the incumbent mayor through a grassroots-led campaign.

Tired of the same political dynasty running their town’s politics, Rodrigo Rivera decided to wage an independent campaign. Relying on word of mouth from the public market, the 62-year-old vendor went against the political backing of his opponent, medical doctor Zaldy Carpeso, who ran under the country’s ruling political party PDP-Laban, eventually edging him out by 562 votes.

Rivera won 11,508 votes while Carpeso received 10,946 votes.

Zaldy’s brother, Shonny Niño Carpeso, had been the town’s mayor but ran unopposed as vice mayor in last week’s election. Rivera’s win prevented the two brothers from having total control of the mayor’s office.

Rivera, who only completed his second year of high school, said in an interview with DZMM Teleradyo that poverty had forced him to drop out of school. 

Rivera also served as barangay (village) chairman in Gap-ang, and went back to selling vegetables at the market when his term ended. ​​He told the media that in addition to ensuring more farm-to-market roads and livelihood programs, he also plans to address the town’s problems concerning drainage, streetlights, classrooms and hospitals. 

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