DURING the Davao City Council meeting on Tuesday morning, August 1, 2023, one of the First District councilors expressed disappointment about not being allowed to enter the session hall during Mayor Sebastian “Baste” Duterte's first State of the City Address (Soca) on Friday, July 28.
Councilor Nilo "Small" Abellera Jr. delivered a privilege speech expressing how he felt "frustrated and disappointed" because, as an elected councilor, he was unjustly barred from entering the session hall.
"I was unjustly barred from entering the said occasion. Despite my rightful presence as an elected Councilor, I was not permitted to enter the session hall," Abellera said.
He arrived early and expected to enter the venue quickly and actively participate in the event, but to his dismay, his name was not on the list.
Abellera said he was the only councilor not included in the Soca list, raising concerns about fairness and inclusivity.
After discovering his exclusion, Abellera approached the registration staff to clarify the situation but could not rectify it. The staff informed him that they were instructed not to make any inclusions under any circumstances.
This led Abellera to believe that his exclusion was not accidental but a deliberate decision, reflecting how he feels he is being treated in the Council.
Abellera mentioned that this was not an isolated incident, as he has been excluded from official and social functions on multiple occasions.
It can be recalled that apart from being excluded from functions, Abellera was also delisted from the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) in their official list of candidates for the 2022 elections.
Abellera noted that, unlike other councilors, he had not been assigned to any committee chairmanship or membership, even though he belonged to the opposition. He sees this as unique in his 10 years of service as an elected councilor.
In an interview, Abellera stated that he has no clue about the specific "superiors" responsible for his exclusion from the list.
Regarding the comparison with the State of the Nation Address (Sona) of the president, Abellera pointed out that even opposition members are not barred from attending the Sona.
He sees the Soca as similar to the Sona, and he believes that in both cases, opposition members should be allowed to participate in and listen to understand the administration's direction.