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RAMA’S MEN SWEEP POLLS

ABC barangay president adds one more voice in Cebu City Council

Tisa barangay captain Phillip Zafra was elected president of the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) in Cebu City yesterday.

His victory added one more ally for Mayor Michael Rama in the City Council, where Zafra, his former chief of staff, will sit as ex-officio member.

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Zafra’s running mate Tinago’s Joel Garganera won as ABC vice president in a landslide win of all ten bets of Team Rama in the ABC board.

Leadership of the city’s 80 barangays gives the mayor an advantage, but he remains a minority force in the City Council, where 12 members are his critics allied with the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan.

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Zafra said he wants to unite all 80 city barangays by strengthening basic health and garbage collection services.

“We all know that the problem of garbage starts in each of the city’s barangays, so we really have to address that,” he said.

He said villages can be clustered to maximize collection in the city’s “Gubat sa Basura” (war against trash).

“We should be helping each other. To those who didn’t vote for us, we will reach out to them. After all, we are one association,” Zafra said after being proclaimed.

Zafra also said he wanted to upgrade services of barangay health centers especially since the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) was closed due to earthquake damage.

CEBU PROVINCE

In Cebu province, it was no surprise that former Bogo city mayor Celestino “Tining” Martinez III won the presidency of the federation of ABC captains.

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He had no opponents.

Martinez said it was his “first time being a barangay chairman and an official of the province” and that he “looks forward to the challenge.”

The Martinez family in the 4th district are Liberal Party stalwarts of the Aquino administration.

Martinez who heads barangay Cayang said he hoped to meet Gov. Hilario Davide III soon to explain his programs for typhoon-hit areas in north Cebu.

“On our part, we would like to make sure that programs of the Capitol would reach all barangays,” he said.

“Tining”, his mother Clavel, who is a former member of the Provincial Board and congresswoman, his sister and three other Bogo municipal officials are facing graft charges in the Sandiganbayan for alleged misuse of funds of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines.

He replaced Jose Ribompail Holganza Jr. whose ex-officio PB seat Martinez will now occupy.

The federation’s new vice president is Emerito Calderon, a former Cebu congressman and father of PB Member Peter John and Raymond, mayor of Samboan. Mercedita Apura was voted auditor.

The board of directors is composed of Holganza, Nerisa Arquillano Wilfredo Diamante, Thomas Mark Durano, Bernabe Gonzales, Joseph Redula, Arnelito Rubin and Celedonio Sitoy.

Holganza who is identified with Garcia’s One Cebu party said he decided to step down and not challenge Martinez’s bid to ensure a “united federation”.

“Do you want to see your league divided because of political divisions after the May election? Or would you want to put closure there and start anew,” he explained to reporter.

“I made the choice to step down and put closure to old divisions. We’re only a few days from Christmas. We’d start hating each other again (if I ran) because people would be disappointed and promises were not fulfilled,” said Holganza.

FIFTH VOICE

In Cebu City, Zafra is Mayor Rama’s fifth ally in the City council joining Team Rama councilors are Mary Ann Delos Santos, Hanz Abella, Dave Tumulak, and James Cuenco.

Zafra defeated Capitol Site barangay captain Manuel Guanzon, 53 to 22, during yesterday’s ABC elections at the Sarrosa Hotel.

The ABC board members are Ramil Ayuman (Apas), Elvis Narra (Adlaon), Wilson Bacor (Binaliw), Altea Lim (Poblacion Pardo), Lotlot Ignacio (Inayawan), Anne Alcover (Agsungot), Boy Miranda (San Roque), Dante Tabucal (Sudlon I), Pancoy Esparis (Quiot) and Dodong Cagang (Basak Pardo).

A total of 77 out of 80 barangay captains in the city cast their ballots.

The captains of barangays Lahug, Sirao and Kalubihan were absent.

The ABC election stretched until 5 p.m. instead of ending at 1 p.m.

Several captains arrived late including former ABC president Michael Ralota.

The event scheduled at 9 a.m. started when Ralota finally arrived at 11:30.

In a speech, Ralota lamented on the lack of assistance and funds of the ABC.

“It’s hard to be the ABC president. There was no city assistance. We had to cut down on expenses especially electricity consumption. Fortunately, we survived,” Ralota said.

He said he hopes the next ABC president would aim for presidency of the regional ABC and later on as board member of the national ABC, saying that the positions would be an advantage for the city.

Ralota left the hall after the committees and election staff were announced.

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