THE Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) and Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod (HTL) delisted Davao City First District Council candidates Nilo “Small” Abellera Jr. and incumbent Councilor Pamela Librado-Morata, weeks before the official announcement of candidates for the 2022 elections.
Vice Mayor Sebastian “Baste” Duterte, in a statement issued on Wednesday, November 17, confirmed that Abellera and Librado-Morata are no longer part of the official slate of HNP-HTL candidates for city councilor in the coming 2022 local elections.
Duterte said, “the party believes that their ideals are not in line with the political party’s vision for Davao City and the Philippines.”
“We wish them well in their future endeavors,” the vice mayor said.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said in a previous interview that Sebastian will be the “overall organizing person in the joint campaign” of HNP and HTL “as agreed by party members.”
Prior to Duterte’s statement, documents of the party’s resolution were forwarded to the media on Tuesday evening, November 16.
According to a letter signed by Elijah Manuel Pepito, counsel for HNP and HTL, which was forwarded to the media on Tuesday evening, November 16, the parties had withdrawn the certificate of nomination and acceptance (Cona) of Abellera and Librado-Morata, through a resolution issued separately by both parties.
The letter, forwarded to the Commission on Elections-Davao City, declared both aspiring councilors, as independent candidates for the upcoming 2022 national and local elections.
Abellera, who is returning again after years of political hiatus, was running under HNP, while Librado-Morata, who is set to end her first term, was running under HTL.
In a separate document, HNP issued a resolution, signed by Secretary General Anthony Del Rosario, withdrawing Abellera’s CONA after the latter “exhibited acts which are inimical to the party’s interest.”
Del Rosario in a text message declined to provide additional information on Abellera’s expulsion as the matter will only be addressed by Duterte, who is the party’s standard-bearer.
Duterte recently substituted her sister as a mayoralty candidate of the joint party after the mayor ran for vice president.
HTL, a city party, was founded by then-Davao City mayor now President Rodrigo Duterte, while Duterte-Carpio founded regional party HNP in 2018 to support her father’s administration.
Librado-Morato told SunStar Davao that she was informed that her nomination as an official member of HTL was withdrawn on Tuesday.
She said that she is planning to withdraw her certificate of candidacy for reelection in the 2022 elections this week.
“At this juncture, it is with a heavy heart that I plan to withdraw from the local elections next year, and I might file said withdrawal within the week,” the councilor said.
Despite her withdrawal, she assured her constituents that she will continue on her functions as a councilor until the end of her term.
“While I respect the party’s position to withdraw the nomination, I condemn all efforts to insult the people’s trust in our brand of politics for 30 years by character assassination and red-tagging,” the councilor said
The lady councilor said that while they have yet to receive the resolution copy, she believed that the reason for her removal was supposedly due to her alleged links with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
“It is our belief that my removal from the HTL is supposedly due to my alleged links with the CPP-NDF-NPA, following messages of an assessment purportedly prepared by the NTF-ELCAC [National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict] that “I am a GABRIELA [Partylist] personality” and I participated in the elections to support the establishment of migrant desks in the City’s first district purportedly used as front organizations,” she said.
Librado-Morata said “this conclusion was reached unilaterally” and that no one consulted her nor was given the opportunity to defend herself against “baseless and malicious accusations.”
“For the record, my family shall and will always stand by the marginalized and oppressed against all odds,” she added.
The councilor said she had voiced out her opinion against demolition, martial law, the Anti-Terror [Law], among others, “even if it meant that I ran against the majority opinion in the council.”
She also said that during her first year as a city councilor, she “was treated as a pariah” for speaking about the need to investigate the closure of Lumad schools in the City.
She said she was “isolated”, and her office’s Annual Development Fund (ADF) was removed in 2019.
“Though members of the SP [Sangguniang Panlungsod] and I didn’t see eye to eye on all issues, the discussion was principled. I was open to the HNP, the HTL, my fellow councilors, and the people of Davao about my plans, views, and projects,” she said.
Librado-Morata, who was elected in 2019, is the daughter of labor leader Nonoy Librado. While her sisters Angela and Leah were former councilors.
Abellera has not issued any statement nor responded to SunStar’s request for an interview as of writing.
The councilor was included in a Senate inquiry in 2017 on alleged bribery and smuggling of illegal drugs worth P6.4-billion in the Bureau of Customs in Davao City.