Nograles Sees No Need to Campaign

May. 12, 2007

But his opponents, though obscure, promise to offer an alternative to the traditional politics that the first-district congressman represents.

By Tyrone Velez

DAVAO CITY — He doesn’t need to campaign. He is unopposed.

Theres probably a tinge of cockiness in it but that is the mindset that dominates the camp of Prospero Nograles, congressman of Davao City’s first district who is running for reelection.

Nograles, who is facing two unknowns in the congressional race, is nowhere to be seen during the entire stretch of the campaign, prompting Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, whose party Hugpong is supposed to have an alliance with Nograless Team Unity, to declare his displeasure toward the congressman late last week, in which he also urged people not to vote for Kalahi, the partylist group of Nograless son Karlo.

According Joy Verbario, a staff of Nograles in Davao, the congressman is either in Manila or too busy with the administration’s Team Unity sorties in different parts of Mindanao.

Except for the poster on the huge Team Unity billboards, there was barely a poster or streamer urging voters to vote for Nograles, who had already — long before election time — stamped his name on every covered court, barangay hall, school building, overpass, waiting shed, road project and even fire trucks and other projects funded by his pork barrel fund.

Confident. The headquarters of the Nograles camp. ( photo by Cheryll D. Fiel)

His two political opponents — medical doctor Anacleto Millendez and preacher Edgar Mabilog — admitted that running against Nograles made them feel like Davids fighting a Goliath.

Nograles even sought their disqualification at the beginning of the campaign period because, according to Nograles, they are nuisance candidates for they do not have the machinery to run a campaign.

One does not need posters and streamers to run a campaign, says Millendez, who described those election paraphernalia as a waste of money. I campaign by holding free clinics in all 53 barangays in the first district, he explains.

Preacher Edgar Mabilog, shown here campaigning in the first district, needs to attract more converts to his political cause. ( photo by Grace Uddin)

Nograles is running for his third term as first district Congressman, the same post he held from 1995 to 1998.

Although Nograles appears unbeatable, his party is facing rough sailing in Davao City and other provinces. Surveys have shown that Team Unity is lagging behind the Genuine Opposition throughout Mindanao.

Lately, Nograles has found himself defending his party and the Kalahi partylist after media reported that the party was distributing goods, movie passes and insurance policies. One of his aides was caught on video confronting an ABS-CBN cameraman during one of the incidents. Nograles clarified that the goods were given to supporters as compensation and not for vote buying.

Millendez, a doctor, promises a different kind of politics.

As vice-chair of Lakas CMD in Mindanao, Nograles has been tasked with overseeing the administration’s election machinery in the regions and to achieve the 12-0 victory goal for Team Unity.

Critics see Nograles’s loyalty to Lakas and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as detrimental. As majority floorleader of the 13th Congress, he helped quashed two impeachment attempts against Arroyo and likewise pushed the Charter Change agenda of the House.

On the other hand, the Kilusang Mayo Uno criticized Nograles for failing to push for the 125 pesos across-the-board wage increase during his term as the House majority floorleader. His son’s nomination to Kalahi, a party for overseas workers, has also been questioned.

All of these have emboldened his obscure opponents to offer alternatives. I think the people in the first district are tired of the old politics, says Millendez. (Tyrone Velez/

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