Zafra abandons reelection bid

INSTEAD of a three-pronged race, the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) Cebu City Chapter might have a presidential race between two former allies.

Tisa Barangay Captain and ABC president Phillip Zafra announced yesterday that he will no longer seek reelection in the ABC elections on July 30 to focus on his barangay.

“I am no longer running. I am declaring myself independent from any political group. I am not even in affiliation, I am just being identified (with the opposition). Under the Local Government Code, a barangay captain is supposed to be apolitical. They (opposition) may identify me or not, that’s fine with me,” he said.

“Unlike now, because you’re so-called identified and they are instrumental in putting you there, you really have to sometimes toe the line. For this time, I really have to sail on my own and I’m happy. But that doesn’t mean they were controlling me. If you’re no longer there, mas wider na imong perspective and views,” Zafra added.

Just three days after the May 14 barangay elections, Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella told reporters that endorsing Zafra for the second time is the “most logical” option since he is the present head of ABC.

From a councilor’s executive assistant, Zafra became former mayor Michael Rama’s chief of staff before being elected barangay captain of Tisa.

In December 2013, he won the presidency of the ABC, which earned him a seat in the City Council as an ex-officio member.

Zafra was supposed to be the opposition’s candidate against Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan’s (BOPK) bet Kasambagan Barangay Captain Franklyn Ong.

But with Mabolo Barangay Captain Prisca Niña Mabatid in the picture, there might be a change in the presidential bets.

Long before she was disowned by Mayor Tomas Osmeña from BOPK last month, Mabatid has been vocal about being endorsed by the Office of the President for president of the ABC.

‘So be it’

Although she still has yet to decide on the matter as of yesterday, Mabatid has told reporters in an earlier press conference, “Who am I to refuse the Office of the President nga mudagan (which asked me to run)?”

Labella, who is president of PDP-Laban Cebu City, said the opposition will support Mabatid since she was endorsed by the Office of the President.

“Let’s first remember the fact that this ABC presidency is apolitical, but if she can have the support of the other barangay captains, so be it. I don’t know yet the situation of the numbers because it’s a numbers game, but I’ve heard that Mabatid is interested and she has talked to me about it,” Labella said.

At present, BOPK has at least 50 allied barangay captains, out of 80, who are expected to support Ong and whoever his running mate will be.

Despite this, Mambaling Barangay Captain Gines Abellana has already expressed willingness to run as Mabatid’s vice president, should she decide to pursue her bid.

“But if not, I will just campaign for her,” he said.

Abellana claimed that several BOPK barangay captains have hinted they will Mabatid as their ABC president.

But while he remains unfazed by reports of his allies jumping ship, Mayor Osmeña gave a message to barangay captains that will vote for Mabatid.

“If she is ABC president, she cannot enter my office. She has to get a court order for that. So if we are expecting her to do a good job as ABC president, to get projects, well, not from City Hall. She is actually claiming projects you know that were approved even before she won. Iyang gi-angkon,” he said.

The winner of the ABC election will sit as an ex-officio member of the city council.

At present, BOPK and the opposition each have nine councilors, including ex-officio members Zafra, Sangguniang Kabataan Federation President Jessica Resch and newly appointed Councilor Erik Miguel Espina.

Should Ong win as ABC president, he would tip the scales in favor of the administration.

Source: Local News






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