Nalzaro: Is Barug heading for a breakup?

Like what is happening in the national party leadership of the administration party, the PDP-Laban, which had split into two factions, is the local affiliate here, Partido Barug-PDP Laban, also heading for a breakup? This, after south district councilors Dondon Hontiveros and Phillip Zafra declared their “independence” from the party. Their declaration has been interpreted by some political pundits and watchers as parting with the party forever.

No. The truth of the matter is that Zafra’s and Hontiveros’ departure from Partido Barug has something to do with what’s happening now at City Hall. Sources said some councilors under the administration have been confused on who is running the affairs of City Hall in view of the physical condition of Mayor Edgardo Labella. These councilors are suspecting that some non-elected officials are now running the affairs of City Hall or manipulating the mayor because Labella can no longer effectively function.

The source said by declaring “independence,” it only means that some councilors will no longer support all the way any administration measures before the Council. One of the issues that caused the displeasure of Zafra and Hontiveros with the administration is the garbage and Carbon market development issues. The source added that administration-allied councilors cannot effectively defend the issues before their colleagues in the council especially from the scrutiny of the opposition, Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK), as they were not properly briefed by the executive branch, especially the City Administrator on the disposal of the garbage. They smell something “fishy” in the deal.

Another issue that displeased them is on the same complaint of Councilor Niña Mabatid a few months ago. It was about the “ungo” (witch) at City Hall. There is no equitable share to some councilors on the distribution of some “ayuda,” like sacks of rice to the barangays. Only favored councilors, and even some non-elected officials who have no public accountability but with strong connection with City Hall officials, are given share to distribute rice to their constituents. There are only two personalities, one an insider while the other one is an outsider, who calls the shots at City Hall right now.

In the case of Hontiveros, it is not “nangluod” because he won’t be the runningmate of Vice Mayor Mike Rama, who is the mayoralty candidate of the party, in next year’s elections. Hontiveros, according to the source, can wait for that. As to Zafra, he said that he will just focus on public service and set aside political partisanship especially during this pandemic. He may or may not seek re-election. But for sure these two councilors will still affiliate themselves with a political party if they decide to run. The source said both Hontiveros and Zafra are still loyal to Rama.


As they say: “In politics, there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, only permanent interests.” Before, Councilor Niña Mabatid and TV star Richard Yap were friends as they were in the same political party, Partido Barug. Mabatid ran for councilor in the north district while Yap was their candidate for Congress. But now, they are the worst enemies.

Why? Because both of them are eyeing the city’s north congressional race vacated by the late Rep. Raul del Mar. Cutie, Raul’s only daughter, is also eyeing the position this coming elections with the promise and commitment to continue in the footsteps and legacy of her late father. Raul had accomplished so many things during his terms in Congress. Posibleng hitupngan apan dili hilabwan.

Niña lashed out at Yap on her Facebook post when she learned that the latter was given a share of sacks of rice from City Hall for distribution to the city north district’s constituents. Niña said no problem about that if Yap volunteered to distribute. But the problem is, Yap “repacked” the rice and placed it in personally made smalls sacks with Yap’s name on it and tried to make it appear that it came from him personally.

“Don’t mislead the people, Mr. Yap. It is not your money. Imo lang giluto sa ilang kaugalingong mantika ang mga tawo,” Mabatid warned the TV actor. Niña admitted that she also distributed rice, but it came from her personal pocket. If this is true, Niña has a point. If Yap volunteered to distribute the rice, he should tell the beneficiaries that it came from the City Government. He should not mislead the public that it came personally from him. Binoang man ning dako. But we still need to hear the side of Yap on this issue.