Surigao del Norte political camps call for unity amid tragedy

DEL CARMEN, Siargao Island (MindaNews / 30 December) — Two rival political parties in Surigao del Norte on Wednesday called for unity amid the tragedy brought about by super typhoon ‘Odette’ which made its first landfall in this province on December 16. 

“This is the time to unite and help one another. Political bickering should be set aside in these trying times,” Partido Padajon Surigao’s reelectionist Representative Francisco Jose Matugas (1st district) told MindaNews at the Sayak Airport here on Wednesday morning. 

Abante Surigao’s reelectionist Rep. Robert Ace Barbers (2nd district), brother former Surigao del Norte Governor Robert Lyndon Barbers, said “this is our effort to forge unity among Surigaonons to address the pressing problems in the entire province that is badly hit by typhoon Odette.” 

Robert Lyndon is running for Governor against Rep. Matugas’ father, reelectionist Francisco Matugas who hails from Siargao.  The Matugas patriarch had earlier served as Governor for three terms (1992 to 2001) and was succeeded by the Barbers siblings (Robert Lyndon from 2001 to 2007 and Robert Ace from 2007 to 2010). Matugas’ wife Sol was governor from 2010 to 2019.  

Call for unity. Rival political camps in Surigao del Norte called for unity amid the tragedy brought about by super typhoon ‘Odette.’ (L to R): Surigao del Norte 2nd district Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr., Pilar Mayor Maria Liza Resurrecion, General Luna Mayor Cecilia Rusillon, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, 1st district Rep. Francisco Jose “Bingo” Matugas Jr and former Surigao del Norte Governor Robert Lyndon Barbers at Sayak Airport in Del Carmen, Siargao Island on Wednesday, 29 December 2021. MindaNews photo by ROEL N. CATOTO

The calls for unity were made at the airport when Presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., who visited here on December 20, returned to bring water filtration devices and solar panels with chargers. Marcos arrived with Rep. Barbers at around 10 a.m. while Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, Marcos’ running mate arrived an hour later. 

Partido Padajon Surigao, a local party led by Governor Matugas was represented at the airport by his son, Surigao 1st District Rep. Francisco Jose “Bingo” Matugas and Partido mayors Elizabeth Matugas of Dapa, Cecilia Rusillon of General Luna, Liza Resurreccion of Pilar. Elizabeth is a sister of Governor Matugas and aunt of Rep. Matugas. 


Robert Lyndon Barbers arrived a day earlier, on December 28, bringing tons or rice for distribution across Siargao Island’s nine municipalities. 

Siargao Island and Bucas Grande comprise the first congressional district while the second district comprises Surigao City and 11 towns in mainland Mindanao. 

Marcos said he returned to Siargao because “parang Yolanda kasi ang epekto gaya sa Tacloban in 2013. Kawawa ang mga tao” (it’s like Yolanda in Tacloban in 2013. The people need help). 

Mayor Duterte also called for unity. 

“Magtulungan tayo para madali tayong makatayo muli at makarecover” (Let’s help each other so we can hasten recovery), she said.  (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)