Malilong: High stakes in a proxy battle

FRIDAY the 13th proved to be an unlucky day for San Isidro, San Fernando barangay councilman Neil Abella. The former drug surrenderer was backing his car out of the parking area of a burger joint in Gen. Maxilom Ave. when a lone gunman shot him dead. His two companions were unhurt.

Later on the same day in Davao City, President Duterte repeated his stern warning, to quote a report in SunStar, that candidates in the May 14 barangay elections risk getting killed “if authorities find out that they are involved in the narcotics trade.”

Maybe, the two events were unrelated. But it will not hurt those with drug links to heed Duterte’s warning, whether they are candidates or not. In fact, it could save their lives if they did. The war on drugs has already seen so many bullet-riddled bodies soaked in blood and lying still, it is confounding why so many people still seem to have not gotten the message, which is that if you persist in your illegal drugs activities, you could (will?) be killed.

For the record and to avoid any misinterpretation, this was what Duterte said:

“Other incumbent village captains, municipal mayors, and the city mayors get killed because they enter the illegal trade of narcotics. So this is why I can’t guarantee, but it’s just a warning to whoever want to run for village positions, the same policy will apply to you. And the same strategy that I am adopting is good until the end of my term to the very last day.”

Killed. Policy. Strategy. These are the key words. You cannot say you have not been warned.

•••

The filing of certificates of candidacy for the May 14 elections started yesterday. The last minute maneuvering of congressmen to postpone the barangay polls a third time dismally failed because of the lack of support by the senators.

Only barangay and youth positions are at stake in next month’s electoral exercise but it’s going to be a very interesting and significant one, coming as it does a year before the local elections. The process of selecting barangay and SK officials is supposed to be non-partisan but in truth it is a proxy war for the opposition and the administration in every local government unit.

Nowhere is this truer than in Cebu City where the BOPK and the Barug PDP Laban are locked in combat for control of the city council which is hopelessly deadlocked at 8-all because of the dismissal, which is on appeal, of James Cuenco. The party that wins the contest in at least 41 of the city’s 80 barangays gets the ex-officio council seat that is currently occupied by Philip Zafra, a Barug member.

Thus, a BOPK victory in the ABC translates to a 9-7 control of the city legislature, a margin that is insurmountable even if Barug controls the elections for SK chairmen and gets the seat allotted for the city’s SK federation president.

I told you, it is going to be interesting especially in Cebu City.
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