MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has rounded-up almost all local officials in the Davao region to join her regional party that is expected to battle House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez's "full slate" in the upcoming 2019 midterm elections.
The city mayor led Friday's launch of Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) backed by other party officers: Davao del Norte Gov. Anthony Del Rosario, Davao Oriental Gov. Nelson Dayanghirang, Davao Occidental Gov. Claude Bautista, and Compostela Valley Gov. Jayvee Tyron Uy.
Uy resigned from PDP-Laban, Alvarez's party, while Dayanghirang and Del Rosario resigned from the opposition Liberal Party. Bautista is affiliated with the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) but said he would be considered "resigned" as soon as he files his certificate of candidacy under HNP.
"If you are a member of any national party or a local party, you can still join HNP. But I don't know sa by-laws ng ibang party," Del Rosario said.
Davao del Sur is the lone province from the region that is not part of Duterte-Carpio's powerhouse team.
"When we called for a meeting, we invited all governors but Gov. [Douglas] Cagas was absent," Duterte-Carpio said in a press conference.
"He actually responded. He asked kung bakit mag-meeting. Sinabihan ko na lang 'yung tao na nag-contact sa kaniya (Cagas) na do not pursue it anymore with Davao del Sur. Gawin na muna natin 'yung party and we will deal with Davao del Sur after since we already have a majority of the provinces of the region," she added.
Bautista and Uy said all incumbent vice governors, mayors, councilors and board members from Davao Occidental and Compostella Valley have pledged support for HNP.
All sitting mayors from Davao Oriental will also back Duterte-Carpio's group, Dayanghirang said.
But only 6 incumbent mayors from Davao del Norte expressed support for HNP, a known bailiwick of Alvarez, who represents the province in the House.
"Sa mga locality namin na hindi sumama 'yung mga mayors, 'yung vice mayors ang sumama. 'Yung iba naman (localities), 'yung mga former mayor ang sumama," Del Rosario said.
Only Davao City 2nd District Rep. Mylene J. Garcia-Albano was invited to join the regional party, Duterte-Carpio said. She did not give details why 1st District Rep. Karlo Nograles and 3rd District Rep. Alberto Ungab were not invited to HNP.
Nograles is the current House Committee on Appropriations chair, while Ungab sits as vice chairperson of the House Committees on Agriculture and Food and Mindanao Affairs.
PRESIDENT'S DAUGHTER VS PRESIDENT'S FRIEND
Duterte-Carpio said Alvarez sent her a message that he would be fielding a "full slate" in Davao del Norte for the upcoming polls.
"I told my friend to tell him that wala akong pakialam (I don't care)... Pinasabi ko sa kaniya na mag-full slate lang sila and wala naman problema sakin 'yan (I relayed to him that they can field a full slate and there's no problem)," she said.
Duterte-Carpio earlier slammed Alvarez and called the Speaker an "insecure fat sleaze" who "will never be a leader" after he allegedly called her part of the opposition for forming HNP.
"He is calling mayors in the region telling them that I am opposition, I have a feud with my father, and that b**ch I am acting alone. This insecure fat sleaze is the epitome of the idiom barking at the wrong tree. I am not interested in his politics but he fired the first shot," Duterte-Carpio earlier told ABS-CBN News.
Alvares denied the allegations, but the President's daughter said she has no intention to withdraw her claims.
"It's either kaming dalawa nung mayor na kausap niya ang nagsisinungaling o siya (It's either both I and the mayor he spoke with are lying or he is). It's two against one," she said.
"I cannot tell you [who] the mayor [is] because wala siya dito (he is not here). He is very afraid of Speaker Alvarez."
At the HNP launch, Duterte-Carpio reiterated that the President gave the regional party his blessing.
"I took it upon myself to tell him (President Duterte) that the governors were there to personally ask the President permission to establish a regional party. I can very well remember his answer. Sabi niya, 'Kung 'yan ang gusto ng mga governors then okay lang' (He said 'If that's what the governors want then it's ok')," she said.
Duterte-Carpio said HNP was "definitely not" established specifically to rival Alvarez's slate.
She said she is willing to meet with Alvarez but stressed that there is no need to mend ties.
"Wala akong problema kay Speaker Alvarez. Siya ang may problema sa'kin (I don't have a problem with Speaker Alvarez. He's the one who has a problem with me)," she said.
"There is no need na magbalikan kami as magkaibigan (there is no need for us to get back together as friends) because we are not friends in the first place," she added.