CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 06 October) — Mayor Oscar Moreno on Friday presented the PDP-Laban’s candidates here for the May 2019 polls, among them former TV personality Girlie Balaba, a close friend of President Rodrigo Duterte, who visited Moreno last month to inform him she wants to run for councilor of the second district under the PDP-Laban.
Moreno presented to the media the candidates of the President’s party after a closed-door meeting in a local restaurant. Duterte was the PDP-Laban’s standard bearer in the May 2016 Presidential polls.
The filing of certificates of candidacy for the May 2019 mid-term elections begins on Thursday, October 11 and ends on Wednesday, October 17.
Moreno is running for his third term with Vice Mayor Rainier Joaquin Uy as his running mate.
The PDP-Laban is also fielding Rep. Rolando Uy as its top bet for the 1st District’s congressional seat. Like Moreno, Uy is running for his third term.
Local officials are allowed a maximum of three consecutive three-year terms for the same post but can return to the same post after a lapse of one term.
Before his election as mayor in 2013, Moreno served as Governor of Misamis Oriental for three terms — 2004 to 2013 — and before that served as Representative of the first district of Misamis Oriental for two terms, from 1998 to 2004.
Moreno said Councilor Yan Lam Lim will be the PDP-Laban’s bet for the congressional seat in the city’s 2nd District.
Walk in candidate
The candidates of the PDP-Laban are a mix of old and relatively new faces in local politics. But most of them are seeking reelection, according to city hall spokesperson Maricel Rivera.
A surprise candidate is Girlie Balaba, a former TV personality in Davao City, who anchored a local news program and who is running for an elective post for the first time.
The 45-year old Balaba is a native of Cagayan de Oro and her family resides in Barangay Nazareth here.
In Davao City, Balaba is known to have been in a relationship with then mayor Rodrigo Duterte. She was seen accompanying him in several sorties during the latter’s nationwide “listening tour” in 2015, in preparation for his possible running in the 2016 Presidential polls. But she was no longer seen in public functions during the election campaign period and since Duterte assumed the Presidency.
Duterte’s partner, Honeylet Avancena and daughter Kitty, joined him in several sorties during the campaign period in 2016 while Duterte’s first wife, Elizabeth Zimmerman, the mother of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, former Vice Mayor Paolo and Sebastian, joined “Byaheng DU30,” a 30-day caravan spearheaded by Sara to campaign for Duterte in other parts of Mindanao and the Visayas.
“Girlie is very much interested to do public service. I have known her family for a long time,” Moreno said, adding that Balaba is the daughter of the late lawyer Joe Balaba, an employee of the Government Service Insurance System who taught law in one of the local schools.
“I saw in her the good intentions to serve the people of Cagayan de Oro,” he said.
According to the mayor, Balaba visited him at City Hall last month informing him she wanted to run for councilor in the second district of Cagayan de Oro under the political lineup of PDP-Laban.
“This is my own decision. I saw the kind of governance of the Moreno administration and I wanted to help,” Balaba told reporters.
Balaba said she has no quarrel with Mayor Sara’s Hugpong sa Pagbabago which is making alliances among local political parties in Northern Mindanao and other parts of the country.
She said Hugpong is a regional political party that is not inclined to enter local politics.
“I have no quarrel with Sara. We are okay,” she said.
“This is my own decision to run for councilor,”Balaba stressed. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)