DAVAO CITY – President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has appointed a former religious leader and a school owner, Ernesto Abella, as his spokesperson on Monday night, June 13 in Davao City.
Abella, who met with reporters here on Tuesday afternoon, said Duterte appointed him “to act as a conduit between himself and the people through the media.”
Abella said he has not yet talked with Atty. Salvador Panelo, who was also appointed as Duterte’s spokesman.
Abella said he has not worked with Duterte before, but described himself as “a great believer” of what Duterte has done in Davao City.
He said he did not apply for the post. Abella actively campaigned for Duterte in social media.
“I’m a fan boy,” he said.
He said he was not part of the media warriors for Duterte. “I wasn’t part of the organized team. I was simply a citizen voicing my own opinions,” he said.
Abella also refused to comment further on Duterte’s policies with regards to media coverage and told reporters that he has not yet received any guidelines.
However, he said he believes the “media is meant to really represent the true intentions of the people, to be a voice of the people, that is where I’m coming from.”
Saved by Duterte
As a former pastor of a charismatic group in 1996, Abella said Duterte was very instrumental in his freedom from “ethnic bandits” who kidnapped him in Davao for 24 hours.
“It was short but traumatic,” he said.
Abella said they were looking for a piece of property behind what was now Monteritz place when the group took them for ransom. He said they only paid for “board and lodging”.
“The kidnappers told my companions, that they were not supposed to go to the police. But somebody suggested that they go to the mayor. The mayor was very decisive. As far as I know, the presence of the MNLF was very strong here during that particular time and he asked for their captains and he informed them to do all that they could to rescue me,” he said.
Abella recalled his captors, “claimed to be MI, but they were ethnic meaning to say they were not lowlanders, part of the 13 tribes.”
“They claimed that they were political, but actually they were just bandits,” he said.
Abella was a former board member of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, Philippine Missions, Association, and the Koinonia Theological Seminary. He was the founding head of the Hope of Asia, Inc and the Jesus Fellowship, Inc. In 2002, Abella left the ministry and worked as the CEO of AZ Agri-Products from 2004 until 2011 and F&P Agri-inputs from 2011 until 2013.
Abella also served as a former instructor of Ateneo de Davao College from 1978-1979. Presently, he is the founding member of the One Accord Credit Cooperative and the secondary school, Southpoint school. (davaotoday.com)