ABC’s Zafra denies talks he’s switching to BO-PK
TO advance the concerns of Cebu City barangays, Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) President Philip Zafra, a staunch ally of former mayor Michael Rama, reached out to Mayor Tomas Osmeña and his allies last month.
Little did he know that his meeting with Osmeña would be viewed as a sign that he was bolting from Team Rama to join his group’s nemesis, Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK).
“That’s (bolting Team Rama) beside the question considering I became what I am because of Mike Rama and Team Rama. Maybe my fault was that I reached out to the administration. But that was for me to be able to help the barangays’ concerns,” Zafra told reporters yesterday.
As ABC president, Zafra sits as ex-officio member of the Cebu City Council.
According to Zafra, while BO-PK has been courting him to switch sides in a bid to get the majority in the City Council, he and Rama go a long way, recalling that he started his political career as Rama’s executive assistant and later on, his chief of staff in the mayor’s office for several years.
He ran as Tisa barangay captain in the 2013 elections with the support of Team Rama, under which he became ABC president.
On Monday, City Hall was rife with rumors that at least two Team Rama councilors were bolting the party to join the administration party, BO-PK.
Among the names floated that would possibly jump ship were Councilors Zafra, James Anthony Cuenco, Pastor Alcover Jr., and Jerry Guardo.
Cuenco, Alcover and Guardo immediately issued denials while Zafra could not be reached for comment by City Hall reporters.
He was also absent in last Tuesday’s council session, further fueling speculations that he was poised to make the big move.
But Zafra explained that last month’s meeting with BO-PK officials was simply meant to air problems of the barangays to the administration party as he was fed up with a number of concerns plaguing barangays identified with Team Rama.
The problems include the delay in the release of allowances for barangay workers as well the cutting in half of the city’s fuel allocation for barangay garbage trucks.
Zafra noted that in spite of several privilege speeches and resolutions passed by Team Rama allies at the council urging the mayor to act on these issues, these have remained unresolved.
He hoped that his meeting with Osmeña and his allies as well as some City Hall department heads could help solve the problems.
“They treated me fairly well. They made me comfortable. They are impressed of my actions. And I’m thankful and appreciative that they listened to me even if we belong in opposing parties,” said Zafra, adding that he will support Osmeña’s policies for as long as these are beneficial to the city.
He also announced plans to retire from politics if barangay elections push through this October.
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