BY ROGER M. BALANZA
Davao del Norte 1st District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez is running as an independent candidate in the 2019 mid-term election for lack of a valid Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA) from the Partido ng Demokratiko Pilipino/Lakas ng Bayan (PDP/Laban).
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has said that candidates without a CONA from an accredited political party when they submitted their Certificate of Candidacy (COC), will be listed as “independent candidates” by the poll body.
Alvarez’s party mate, contractor Edwin Jubahib who is running for Davao del Norte governor, and other candidates under the Alvarez Wing will likewise be considered as “independent candidates.”
The Alvarez Wing is a personal political bloc organized by Alvarez, former Speaker of the House of Representatives who was ousted in a coup in July that installed former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Alvarez is seeking reelection in the local elections in May next year.
Alvarez was the secretary general of PDP/Laban but was “ousted” and replaced during a general assembly organized by a bloc inside the party days after he was kicked out of the speakership on July 23.
Alvarez led his line-up in the Alvarez Wing in filing in Tagum City their COCs on October 17 as candidates of the PDP/Laban.
The CONAs of Alvarez had his candidates under the Alvarez Wing carried the signature of Compostela Valley Board Member Peter Ruel Gonzaga as the PDP/Laban Davao Region chairman.
But Cesar Cuntapay, PDP/Laban vice chairman for Mindanao said, their CONAs were invalid.
In a phone interview with Topnewsnow on November 1, Cuntapay said Gonzaga who was appointed by Alvarez, lost that position when Alvarez was ousted as secretary general during a general assembly of the PDP/Laban.
Cuntapay said he should be the signatory to the CONAs of PDP/Laban, being now also the PDP/Laban Davao Region Council chairman.
He said his name, not Gonzaga’s, appears as PDP/Laban signatory to the CONAs for Davao Region in the list of authorized signatories submitted by PDP/Laban central committee to the Comelec.
Alvarez’s CONA signed by Gonzaga is a “forgery and falsified public documents,” Cuntapay told Topnewsnow.
He intimated that the COCs of Alvarez and his group, with PDP/laban listed as their national party, were initially refused acceptance by the Davao del Norte Comelec because their CONAs were signed by Gonzaga who was not authorized by PDP/Laban in its submission to the Comelec.
Even as their COCs were accepted by the Comelec, they will be considered as independent candidates and not PDP/Laban candidates because they were not issued CONAs signed by an authorized officer of the PDP/Laban, said Cuntapay, citing the Comelec rule on accepting CoC and CONA.
Cuntapay, who is running for mayor in Davao del Norte’s capital city of Tagum, will carry the banner of the PDP/Laban in next year’s polls being the chairman of the Davao Region council.
Alvarez, along with PDP/Laban president Senator Koko Pimentel were among officials of the party of President Rodrigo Duterte, who were booted out of their positions during the PDP/Laban 11th National Assembly held on July 27, 2018 at the Amoranto Stadium in Quezon City.
Duterte remained as the party’s national chairman, while then Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Bong Go retained his position as national auditor.
Rogelio Garcia, PDP-Laban national council chair, was elected as national council president, to replace Pimentel.
Willy Talag, president of PDP-Laban Makati City council and chair of the membership committee of the National Capital Region chapter, was elected to take over the position of Alvarez.
The assembly, organized by a bloc inside PDP/Laban led by Garcia, was attended by members from party councils from various provinces in Mindanao; Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and other parts of Metro Manila.
Pimentel has refused to recognize the new set officers.
Duterte has told the warring groups to “go their separates ways” after a failed attempt to reconcile the Pimentel and Garcia groups.
In next year’s political battle, Alvarez and his Alvarez Wing will be up against the formidable and politically-entrenched group of Governor Anthony del Rosario and 2nd District Antonio Floirendo Jr. under the banner of the Hugpong Ng Pagbabago (HNP), a regional political party organized by presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Gov. del Rosario will challenge the reelection of Alvarez while Floirendo will defend his position against Vice Governor Alan Dujali of the Alvarez Wing.
HNP will have Board Member Rodney del Rosario vs. the neophyte Jubahib of the Alvarez Wing in the gubernatorial race.
Mayor Duterte-Carpio was expected to play key role in the Davao del Norte electoral battle as she had vowed to personally campaign against the reelection of Alvarez.
This after the then sitting House Speaker in early July this year, reportedly called HNP as an “opposition party” without the blessing of President Duterte.
Badly hurt, the presidential daughter called Alvarez an “asshole,” and a “liability to the Duterte administration.”
She also called on congressmen to oust Alvarez as Speaker.
Mayor Duterte-Carpio is said to have flexed political muscle by marshalling support of congressmen in the ouster of Alvarez.
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