The political drama of the Dutertes goes down to the local front, as two prominent candidates were dropped from the slate of the local party Hugpong sa Tawong Lunsod and Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HTL‒HNP).
Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte, head of the local HTL, released a statement Wednesday confirming that incumbent first district councilor Pamela Librado-Morata and candidate Nilo ‘Small’ Abellera Jr “are no longer part of the official slate of the HTL‒HNP for the Davao City Council this coming 2022 Local Elections”.
The confirmation came the day after news were circulated on social media.
The vice mayor did not clearly state the reasons for the removal of the two councilors from their slate, only stating in one paragraph: “The party believes that their ideals are not in line with the political party’s vision for Davao City and the Philippines. We wish them well in their future endeavors.”
Both councilors said that they were not informed nor consulted before the decision was made public.
In her Facebook page, Librado Morato said the removal of her nomination was made by the party without any attempt to consult her or give her the opportunity to clarify accusations against her.
“Regrettably, this conclusion was reached unilaterally, without any attempt to consult me, and neither was I was given an opportunity to defend myself against such baseless and malicious accusations,” she said in her statement.
The councilor believes that she was removed from the party due to allegations circulating on social media of her links with Gabriela, a women’s organization tagged as a front organization of the Communist Party of the Philippines by the National Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
She said red-tagging has been a constant against her and her siblings who also served as city councilors in the past two decades.
“My father and my sisters tackled such accusations head-on by showing why alternative pro-people politics is viable and more beneficial to our people. Such is proven by our uninterrupted public service for almost three decades. While I respect the party’s position to withdraw the nomination, I condemn all efforts to insult the people’s trust in our brand of politics for 30 years by character assassination and red-tagging,” she said.
Like Librado‒Morata, Abellera Jr also said he did not receive any document stating his removal from the slate of Hugpong candidates for the local election.
Abellera Jr is making a comeback to the city council replacing his father Nilo Abellera Sr.
In a phone interview, Abellera said he only learned about his removal through phone calls and media reports.
“Actually, natingala ko nganong gitangtang ko sa (I am surprised why I was removed from the) line up …because I did not receive any document…. I cannot comment on it to tell you honestly because I did not know the grounds of my removal,” Abella Jr. explained.
The councilor said he is puzzled as the party did not reach out to him prior to his dismissal.
The HNP forwarded a certificate to media cancelling Abellera’s cancellation stating that Abellera Jr “has exhibited acts which are inimical to the party’s interest’. The certificate was signed by the party’s secretary general, former Davao del Norte Governor Anthony del Rosario and attested by party president, Davao Occidental Governor Claude Bautista.
Abellera Jr said he deserves more clarifications from the party and is open to talk to Hugpong.
“Ako sab gusto ko makasabot sa nahitabo, kung naa bay dili gusto nga naa ko sa line up o didto sa ingon nga lahi ang among ideals kay kabalo man ang tanan sa among pagdagan naa gyud mi sa Hugpong, (I also want to know what is happening, if there are people who do not want me in the lineup, especially that point that my ideals are different because everyone knows I have been with Hugpong ” he said, pointing out that he and his father have been under Hugpong for decades.
In 2017, Abellera Jr was implicated in the Senate Blue Ribbon hearings
along with then vice mayor Paolo Duterte on alleged smuggling of illegal drugs worth P6.4 into the ports of Davao City. Abellera did not attend the investigations and was stripped off committee leaderships in the city council.
Abellera Jr said he is still open for talks with Hugpong as he has no intention to join other political parties.
Meanwhile, Librado-Morata said she is considering withdrawing from the race, but supporters have poured their support over social media.
Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod was formed by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2001, and is now led by Baste Duterte. Hugpong ng Pagbabago is the regional party that was created by Sara Duterte-Carpio, who recently resigned from the party to join Lakas-CMD for her vice presidential bid.
Both parties are merging for the Davao City elections, as they are fielding 29 candidates for the city’s 24 council slates.