By MARK FRANCISCO
and ROSSIEL D. PAGUIDIAN
President Elipe (center) argues before Misamis Oriental Vice Gov. Jose Mari Pelaez (left) to be recognized as a new SP member. Lobbying for him at right is SP member Gerardo Sabal III. photo by Mark Francisco
HEATED words were exchanged during the Misamis Oriental Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) weekly session yesterday as it suddenly dawned on Vice Gov. Jose Mari Pelaez that he is now part of the minority of the 13-person legislature.
After filing his congressional candidacy under the opposition National Unity Party and after Rep. Peter Unabia’s group coalesced with the ruling PaDayon Pilipino, erstwhile SP minority members became part of the majority.
With that, Pelaez found himself in an awkward situation yesterday afternoon from his former partisan colleagues in the PaDayon Pilipino, arguing with SP member Gerardo Sabal III that he could not recognize yet the inclusion of President Elipe as an SP member to succeed the late Mario Emano.
Pelaez argued not on the floor but as presiding chair before the plenary that he would only recognize Elipe if he was furnished a true and certified copy by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) of Elipe’s appointment by the President.
But Sabal pointed out that the argument was already moot since it was already a fact that President Duterte did appoint Elipe to succeed Emano as SP member, Elipe being a member of Emano’s PaDayon Pilipino.
Sabal also vouched that he would see to it that a true and certified copy of Elipe’s appointment would land on the vice governor’s desk.
After almost two hours of arguing and a five-minute recess where Pelaez summoned Elipe and Sabal privately, the vice governor finally relented and recognized Elipe as a new SP member.
It was also a moment of irony for Sabal who had staunchly defended the vice governor from various political attacks since the two assumed office starting in 2013 and reelected in 2016.
During the one-and-a-half-hour debate, Sabal was backed by SP member Vincent Pelaez who previously belonged to the minority.
But Pelaez – along with Unabia protégés Virgelia Dumadag and Fredrick Khu – now belongs to the SP majority after their political mentor coalesced with PaDayon Pilipino for the 2019 midterm elections.
The three now join fellow SP members Wayne Militante, Mercy Grace Acain, Nancy Madjos and Sabal as part of the majority.
Only Boris Actub and the vice governor’s brother Jeremy Jonahmar Pelaez, who filed their 2019 candidacies under the National Unity Party, remained in the opposition.
There are two non-partisan members in the SP today – the Liga ng mga Barangay’s Leonard Winstanley and the Sangguniang Kabataan’s (SK) Kenneth Soldevilla.
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