The Cebu City Council will now have two independent councilors after Councilor Nendell Hanz Abella, who was affiliated with Team Rama, decided to leave the party to become one.
Abella followed Councilor Dave Tumulak, who also left Team Rama’s party to become an independent councilor after being elected to the post last May.
Abella, who avoided media interviews in the past few days, confirmed through a text message that he had chosen to be independent but he refused to elaborate.
“I have declared to be independent. As independent, I can decide whether to join (a party or not). Everything will be an option,” he said.
Abella also said he had been open to the possibility of joining some Team Rama members in taking their oath with the Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), although he had yet to make a final decision on it.
But Councilor James Anthony Cuenco said in an earlier interview yesterday that Abella would stick it out with Team Rama.
Cuenco, a Team Rama partymate, in an earlier interview told Cebu Daily News that he, together with Abella, met with Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino last Tuesday to discuss the oath taking of the other Team Rama members, who were not able to join last Saturday’s PDP-Laban oath taking in Cebu.
“I think we were able to nip (Abella’s leaving the party) in the bud. Yesterday (Tuesday), I talked to him (Abella) and because a common friend, Michael Dino, also wanted to intervene,” Cuenco said.
Cuenco said that Abella expressed his hurt during the meeting that even before announcing that he would be leaving Team Rama, some people and other colleagues seemed to “kick him out of the door already.”
Cuenco said he would also accompany Councilors Joel Garganera and Raymond Garcia in taking their oath with PDP-Laban in Manila.
But when asked in a phone interview to confirm Cuenco’s statement that he (Abella) was staying in Team Rama, Abella said, “What’s final as of now is that he (Abella) has declared his independence as a councilor.”
He said that he understood Cuenco, who is trying to save whatever can be saved since they are friends too.
Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, who is also a Team Rama member, said he respects the decision of both Abella and Tumulak to become independent councilors.
He, however, asked the two councilors to be true to being “independent” in the council especially since there would be a “shaky” majority in the council.
Nine councilors are with Team Rama, six are with Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK), and now two from the independent bloc.
He also said that he would want Tumulak and Abella to continue to hold their committees in the council, but the final decision would depend on what the rest of Team Rama councilors had to say.
Abella heads the committees on education, science and technology, and games, amusement and sports; while Tumulak heads the public order and safety, and the health, hospital services and sanitation committees.
“They are entitled to their own opinions. I would never say they are traitors or betrayers. I respect their decision,” Labella said.
But if eventually, the two would end up joining BO-PK, the vice mayor said he would not be surprised.
Labella, Councilors Cuenco and Gerardo Guardo also belied rumors yesterday that they would leave Rama’s camp.