Mayor Climaco to run for Zamboanga City’s first congressional district

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 24 September) — Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco has been adopted by the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) as its bet for the city’s first congressional district.

This was announced Thursday during the launching of the Agan-Atilano tandem for the city’s top posts before a select audience of friends, family members, and media at Hotel Regency in Pasonanca.

Vice Mayor Rommel Agan, chair of the local UNA chapter is running for mayor while Councilor Elbert Atilano is running for Vice Mayor.

(This is an updated version of the story ‘Mayor Climaco to run for Zamboanga City’s first congressional district.’ We have corrected the errors pointed out. Our apologies and thank you for your quick feedback). 

Climaco, a member of the Liberal Party, is ending the last of three terms as mayor in 2022. She is running for 1st district Representative, a post she held for two terms from 2007 to 2013.

Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco. MindaNews file  photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Last week, Agan and councilors Atilano, Edding and Villaflores left the Partido Prosperidad y Amor para naZamboanga (PPAZ) coalition formed in 2019 by Climaco.

Climaco thanked the four in a message posted on her social media page, for “the fruitful years of support and partnership” and wished them luck.

Agan, a lawyer and accountant, administered the oath and signed the certificates of nomination and acceptance (CONA) of the party’s candidates. As local chair for UNA, Agan is authorized to sign and issue the CONA for candidates for vice mayor and city councilors.

At the launching, Agan also presented three of their candidates for councilor: incumbents Al-Jihan Edding and Jimmy Villaflores,  and former councilor Charlie Mariano. Agan, Atilano, Edding and Villaflores – all incumbents – had vowed to support Climaco till the end of their respective terms on June 30, 2022.

UNA bets in Zamboanga City (L to R): Vice Mayor Rommel Agan for mayor, Elbert Atilano Sr. for Vice Mayor and Jaime Villaflores for councilor. Photo courtesy of Jay Atilano

Known as “the good vice,” Agan said that if they win in next year’s election, his coalition’s brand of leadership will be Pro Deo, Patria et Civitat (For God. Country and City).

Agan, who rarely accepted speaking engagements in the 12 years he has been a public servant, nine years as  councilor and three years as vice-mayor,  surprised his audience with his eloquent speech dealing with what he described as the need for a “strong leader” with courage, integrity, and perseverance.

Without mentioning names, he said Zamboanga needs a leader who is not an opportunist in crisis, not a profiteer, and not afraid to act.

“We are all interconnected than we ever thought we were. It takes only a few people, disregarding protocols to start a chain reaction of transmission and a spike in afflictions. Perhaps, they don’t strike the government and their non-cooperation, their disobedience is an expression of that lack of faith,” he said.

“But why? Why do I speak of these things? I dwell on these things because that is my conviction: That leadership is first and foremost about character. Emergencies change and often catch us by surprise. It could be a natural disaster. It could be a breach of peace and order. Or it could be an economic upheaval. Not even the most farsighted person could have predicted this pandemic that we are in. But character—character is for all time. I speak of these things because those are the very standards that I hold myself up to,” he said.

Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco speaks to Zamboangueños outside City Hall during the homecoming of Olympic medalists Hidilyn Diaz and Eumir Felix Marcial on September 1, 2021.  MindaNews photo by FRENCIE CARREON

Mariano, who is running for councilor under UNA, announced that he had filed his resignation as Mayor Climaco’s spokesperson.

Villaflores, a longtime broadcaster and barangay chair of Talon-Talon during the 2013 Zamboanga Siege, is seeking a third term at the City Council.

Edding, daughter of the late Councilor Asbi Edding, affirmed her support to Agan as an original member of UNA, and a member of the current administration party under Climaco.

Atilano was Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz’s trainer in her early years as weightlifter. Diaz sent a video wishing him luck during Thursday’s launch. Agan is a friend of Senator Manny Pacquiao who endorsed him in 2019 when he ran for Vice Mayor. Agan was in the US during  Pacquiao’s boxing match last month. (Frencie Carreon/MindaNews)