What is happening within the Partido Barug-PDP Laban?
A month before the filing of the certificates of candidacy (COC) starts, a Cebu City councilor allied with Barug has decided to leave the group while another one has hinted at doing the same.
Cebu City Councilors Donaldo “Dondon” Hontiveros and Phillip Zafra, both from the south district, posted on their Facebook accounts the word “INDEPENDENT” on Friday night, Sept. 3, 2021.
Zafra confirmed in an interview on Saturday, Sept. 4, that he is leaving Barug and that he will submit a formal letter soon to inform the party of his decision.
In a separate interview, Councilor James Anthony Cuenco, also of the south district, said he is also “seriously considering doing so myself.”
Zafra said he is not sure yet if he will seek reelection or run for any local position in 2022.
“It does not necessarily mean that I will run. Depende na sa sitwasyon (That will depend on the situation),” he told SunStar Cebu.
Zafra said he decided to split from the group so he can focus more on providing public service.
“I can be with not just the party that I used to belong to before, but also to the other party… but most importantly to the people, nga maka-discuss ta (that we can discuss) freely with them. I don’t want to be instructed by any political partisanship,” said Zafra.
“Para nako mas maayo ang pag-atiman nato, in particular sa Sugbo, kung wala tay political consideration (For me, we can serve better, particularly in Cebu City, if we don’t have political considerations),” he said.
Zafra said he has no plan of joining any political party.
He clarified there is no conflict within the Partido Barug that prompted him to leave the party.
Zafra said he was surprised when he saw Hontiveros’ post on Facebook. He has yet to talk with his colleague as the latter is still in in Manila.
SunStar Cebu tried to get Hontiveros’ comment but he could not be reached.
Both Zafra and Hontiveros are on their first term as councilors.
Zafra was village chief of Barangay Tisa for two terms, from 2013 to 2019. He became the president of the Association of Barangay Councils in 2013.
Hontiveros, the “Cebuano Hotshot” who played in Philippine Basketball Association for 17 years, got the highest number of votes when he ran for south district councilor for the first time in 2019.
Cuenco said he was glad to hear about Zafra’s decision to go independent.
“I am actually happy about his decision to go independent. Truth to tell, I am seriously considering doing so myself. No further comment until then,” he said in a text message sent to SunStar Cebu.
Other party members have yet to discuss the matter with their partymates.
Councilor Joel Garganera said he has not talked to both Zafra and Hontiveros.
Councilor Prisca Niña Mabatid said Barug “will be okay” before the filing of the COC and that Acting Mayor Michael Rama, the party president, will not just let Zafra and Hontiveros go.
“The coast will be clear before filing. In the end, I know that our group will be okay. Our captain will not allow our boat to sink,” said Mabatid.
“Mayor Mike will stand up for all of us. Pinangga na niya si Phillip ug si Dondon. (They are dear to him.) That I am sure of,” the councilor from the north district said.
SunStar Cebu tried to call Rama and Mayor Edgardo Labella, who is currently on leave, but they could not be reached for comment.
For her part, Councilor Lea Japson of the Bando Osmeña-Pubdok Kauswagan (BOPK) said she was surprised to hear that Zafra is leaving Barug.
She said Zafra and Hontiveros are welcome to join BOPK if they want to.
“In case they will jump to BOPK, they are welcome,” said Japson. (JJL)