LETTERS FROM DAVAO

By Jun Ledesma

THE campaign of Partido Reporma in Davao took a bad turn when its President, Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez went berserk, cussing a vice gubernatorial candidate of Hugpong Ng Pagbabago and describing him as a “special and autistic child”. 

The person he is referring to is De Carlo “Oyo” Uy, who happened to be the President and Chief Operating Officer of a business conglomerate of the Uy brothers. Oyo, as he is popularly known, nurtured the Davao Metro Shuttle which started off with just 90 units that ply between Davao City and Tagum to 400 buses today servicing the Davao Region, Caraga Region, BARMM, and all the way to Eastern  Visayas Region. He was also the big boss of Metro Gear Construction Corporation an ISO-certified firm. Definitely, a no small feat compared to Bebot’s political adventurism. 

Oyo was on top of a business conglomerate for almost 15 years punctuated only when he ran and won as councilor of Tagum City. The young corporate man who was belittled by ex-Speaker Bebot Alvarez as autistic was the Most Outstanding Councilor of Davao Region and was a finalist in the Philippines Most Outstanding Councilor, a search conducted by the Philippines Jaycees in cooperation with then Sen. Ed Angara. 

Bebot spewed out his tirade against persons with disability in his closing remarks during the campaign event attended by some 1,000 Partido Reporma members held in Panabo City last week.  Davao-based parents with special children aired their contempt against the former Speaker. Persons with disabilities of Davao are not happy with the insults they got from Bebot and might file complaints in CHR and COMELEC. PWD Philippines, a non-government organization, dubbed Alvarez's rant as “an affront to all parents of children with autism”.  

Despite the public condemnation, however, the event is still running a live stream on the official Facebook page of presidential aspirant Sen. Panfilo Lacson. I cannot comprehend why both Lacson and Tito Sotto who were present during the event could countenance this. 

Alvarez is seeking re-election as a congressman in the 1st District of Davao del Norte. Some of his allies had cut their ties from him when he quit as a member of PDP-Laban and resuscitated the moribund Partido Reporma. He then launched an attack on Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte calling his government a failure. Among his allies severed their ties with the former House Speaker were Rep. Alan Dujali of the 2nd District and incumbent Vice Gov. Rey Uy, father of Oyo Uy. VG Rey has filed his candidacy for Mayor of Tagum City under HnP. What worries Bebot is that 20 out of 23 barangay captains of Tagum who supported him in 2019 are no longer batting for him. They have joined HnP of Davao City Mayor and Vice Presidential bet Inday Sara Duterte, who, like her teammate Bongbong Marcos, leads in all surveys. 

The 1st District of Davao del Norte is composed of Tagum the capital city and five municipalities. The registered voters of the district in 2019 totaled to 301,000 and 154,000 of these are from Tagum. The town of Asuncion with 36,000 electorates is also an HnP bastion. Any way Alvarez looks at these political realities obtaining in the first District there is no escaping the fact that it will be an uphill battle for him.       

Losing the support of VG Rey Uy and the 20 barangay captains could really make Bebot Alvarez lose his balance but cursing persons with disabilities and using gutter language is not the way to win votes. Sadly the tolerance of Lacson and Sotto of this despicable display meanness does not sit well with hundreds of thousands of  PWDs who are registered voters and parents who raised them to be productive citizens. 

About the Columnist

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Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan.