After saying that the recent political development in Cebu has not bothered him one bit, Gov. Hilario Davide III announced yesterday that he is open to coalescing with the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
Davide, who heads the Liberal Party (LP) in Cebu province, issued this statement as many of his colleagues in the erstwhile dominant party have opted to now swear allegiance to PDP-Laban, the party under which President Rodrigo Duterte won the elections in May 2016.
Yesterday, four Provincial Board (PB) members — Yolanda Daan and Raul Bacaltos (1st District), Sun Shimura (4th District) and Glen Bercede (6th District) — confirmed they will be among Cebuano elected officials who will take part in today’s the mass oath taking of new PDP-Laban members organized by the party’s Cebu province chapter, Bisaya na Pud (BNP) organization, and Barug Team Rama councilors of Cebu City.
But even as they have decided to ally with PDP-Laban, the four PB members and the Gullas-led Alang sa Kalambuan ug Kalinaw (Alayon) said they would continue to support Davide.
It was because of this continued support by these groups that Davide said he was open to forming an alliance with PDP-Laban.
“It doesn’t really bother me … and I’m willing to form an alliance with PDP-Laban or coalition in the local level. I’m open to that and I hope open pud ang PDP ana (PDP is also open),” said Davide.
“That’s politics. Kanang mubalhin sa lain partido, mao manang (trend) dinhi sa Pilipinas gud (Transferring from one party to another, that’s the trend here in the Philippines). But they assured me nga they will still show support from me. And pasalamat sad ta nila ana, unya nananghid sad sila (And we’re thankful for their assurance, and that they asked permission),” he added.
At least a dozen city and town mayors in Cebu province who ran and won under LP will take part in the exodus to the now-dominant party, together with around 50,000 local political leaders and individuals, for the mass oath taking scheduled today in Plaza Independencia in downtown Cebu City.
Business as usual
Davide stressed it will be “business as usual” in the Capitol, saying the changing political landscape would not distract him from focusing on delivering the services needed in the province.
“I focus on what services we can render. … It’s my primordial concern,” said Davide.
He also believed there will be no politicking in the Capitol even as six PB members will now belong to PDP-Laban.
“Our PB members are principled. The welfare of the Cebuanos is in their heart. Nothing really has changed except transferring to other parties,” Davide stated.
Among the local parties in Cebu province, only the Durano-led Barug Alang sa Kauswagan ug Demokrasya (Bakud) has opted not to join with PDP-Laban in today’s mass oath-taking ceremony despite issuing a resolution enjoining its members to support to the projects of President Duterte.
Like Davide, Danao City Mayor Ramon “Nito” Durano III, who chairs Bakud, said they are also open for having a coalition with PDP-Laban.
“We already have a local party, that’s why we don’t have to join the oath-taking ceremony, but we’re still open for the possibility of forming a coalition with PDP-Laban,” said Durano.
One Cebu, which is headed by 3rd District Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia, has long been identified with Duterte after they backed the former Davao City mayor’s presidential bid in May 2016.
Meanwhile, Barug Team Rama, which is part of the organizing committee for today’s ceremony, revealed that out of the 50,000 individuals they expected to turn up today, around 200 to 300 are officials from towns and cities of Cebu province and Cebu City; another 1,000 or so are barangay officials; and the rest are from different groups and organizations from all over the province, according to Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia.
“In PDP-Laban, if you want to pledge your support to the President and if you believe in his programs, it is considered a wise move to also take oath as a PDP-Laban member to nail the notion that you support the President,” Garcia said in a press conference yesterday.
Today’s program at the Plaza Independencia will start at 1 p.m. and is expected to end by 6 p.m.
PDP-Laban Cebu President Nixon “Jojo” Dizon is expected to give the welcome remarks to be followed by a basic orientation seminar to be conducted by the party’s national secretariat.
Messages from some local officials and other guests will include those by Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, Representative Garcia, Presidential Political Adviser Francis Tolentino, Davao City 1st District Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles, Negros Occidental 3rd District Rep. Albee Benitez and Bataan 1st District Rep. Geraldine Roman.
The oath taking will be led by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, who will also be giving a message. Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimental III is expected to attend, said Councilor Garcia.
In anticipation of the huge crowd, Cebu City officials and the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) have mapped out plans to control the volume of crowd as well as traffic in the areas near Plaza Independencia and in Fort Maritima, which will be used as parking area.
Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera, in a separate press briefing, said the Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) and the CPA will prohibit public utility vehicles and trucks from traversing through roads leading to Pier 1 starting at 9 a.m. today as means to manage traffic flow. Motorists will be diverted to Pier 2 instead.
Garganera also instructed CPA officials to inform representatives from shipping lines of the possibility of delays in the shipment of their cargoes due to the rerouting scheme.
“There’s a possibility nga ma-delayed ilahang paglarga (their scheduled time to leave might be delayed),” he said.
Why they joined
For his part, PB Member Shimura also revealed that his membership to PDP-Laban also meant to have Daanbantayan, one of the eight towns that comprised Cebu’s 4th District, represented in the national government.
“I will be joining the mass oath taking tomorrow together with some barangay officials in Daanbantayan. We were advised by our congressman (Rep. Benhur Salimbangon, 4th District) to join the administration’s party for the good of our people, and I will be representing Daanbantayan,” Shimura said.
Shimura is the son of Daanbantayan Mayor Vicente Loot, one of the mayors in Cebu who has been placed on President Duterte’s list of officials with alleged links to illegal drugs and were thus prohibited from joining the administration party. Loot has strongly denied the allegations and continues to seek his removal from the so-called narco-politicians list.
Bacaltos, on the other hand, said that he would be in today’s mass oath taking, but if the decision were up to him, he would rather take his oath before his congressman, Gullas.
Including its two ex-officio members (Celestino Martinez III of the Association of Barangay Councils – Cebu Federation, and Earl Tidy Oyas of the Philippine Councilor’s League – Cebu province), the PB is composed of 16 members.
Shimura and Bacaltos will now be on the same political fence with PB Members Thadeo Jovito “Jonkie” Ouano (6th District) and Alex Binghay (3rd District), who have sworn as members of the PDP-Laban in August 2016.
PB Member Bercede, in a text message yesterday, not only confirmed his decision to leave LP but also said that PB members of the 2nd District (Edsel Galeos and Jose Mari Salvador), and the 7th District (Christopher Baricuatro and Jerome Christian Librando) are expected to join the mass oath taking today.
However, in a phone interview with CDN yesterday, Salvador said he still has to wait for instructions from Cebu 2nd District Rep. Wilfredo Caminero before making any decision.
“I was informed about this ceremony, but as of now, I still have no plans (on joining the oath taking). Our mayors here have discussed already this and agreed to join, but I will meet the congressman personally for instructions,” said Salvador.
CDN tried but failed to get confirmation from Galeos, Baricuatro and Librando.
However, Caminero and Cebu 7th District Rep. Peter John Calderon, in separate interviews, confirmed they gave all elected officials in their districts the discretion on whether or not to join in today’s mass oath-taking ceremony. /with USC Intern Therese Alegado and SU Intern Alven Marie Timtim