DAVAO CITY – The ruling Hugpong coalition issued a one-paragraph explanation on why they are dropping city councilor Pamela Librado-Morata from their 2022 slate.
The statement by Hugpong ng Tawong Lungsod President Sebastian ‘Baste’ Duterte, said Librado (and another councilor) had “ideals (that) are not in line with the political party’s vision for Davao City and the Philippines.”
But Librado-Morata, who is seeking re-election for the city’s first district, said the removal of her nomination was made by the party without any attempt to consult her or give her the opportunity to clarify accusations against her.
“Regrettably, this conclusion was reached unilaterally, without any attempt to consult me, and neither was I was given an opportunity to defend myself against such baseless and malicious accusations,” she said in her statement which was posted on her Facebook page Wednesday.
The councilor believes that she was removed from the party due to allegations circulating on social media of her links with Gabriela, a women’s organization tagged as a front organization of the Communist Party of the Philippines by the National Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
Librado-Morata said red-tagging and allegations are nothing new to her and her family, who have been into local politics since the 1990s or for nearly four decades.
From unionism to council
Her father, the late councilor Erasto ‘Nonoy’ Librado, was a labor leader who led the anti-Marcos coalition in Mindanao, before being elected councilor in 1992 under the party of then mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Erasto only served a few months of his term as he died from a stroke. His widow, Marlene, took his seat in the council.
Pamela’s two sisters also served in the city council. Her elder sister, lawyer Angela Librado-Trinidad, is a member of Bayan Muna and was elected to three terms in the city council from 2001 to 2010.
Librado-Trinidad had her brush of being branded as a leftist by the Task Force Davao.
In 2016, she was appointed by President Duterte to the government’s peace panel in its talk with the National Democratic Front (NDF) in 2016. Later she was appointed labor attaché to Washington in the United States.
Pamela said the accusation hurled on her father and sisters showed “why alternative pro-people politics is viable and more beneficial to our people. Such is proven by our uninterrupted public service for almost three decades.”
Despite being allies of the Dutertes, the Librados showed their independent brand of politics in the city council, amplifying issues of the marginalized sectors including workers, women and children.
For her part, Librado-Morata, who described herself as “a neophyte” in her first term in 2019, was considered an “opposition” councilor despite being part of Hugpong.
Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod had been the dominant party in Davao since its founding in 2001.
Last year, she opposed the Davao City Council’s resolution to support the Anti-Terror Law.
During the height of attempts to close the Lumad schools and the attacks on the evacuees in Haran during 2019, Librado-Morata brought this issue to the city council, urging them to foster a dialogue to clear issues on them.
Her action resulted in the removal of her Annual Development Fund (ADF), a council fund for councilors’ project, for that year 2019.
COVID-response for workers
Librado-Morata said this did not hinder her to continue her community programs at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic such as organic urban gardening, health and vaccine education.
“I made no complaints and continued with my work. The lack of resources will never be an excuse to desist from our mandate to serve the people of Davao,” she said in her statement.
Librado-Morata was the first councilor to push for a special program for workers to avail of the city government’s vaccination program past their work shifts. It took long before the council adopted her resolution.
Like her father, she reached out to workers affected by the sagging economy during the pandemic. She held committee hearings to look at the FoodPanda delivery workers’ demands for better remittance and reinstatement to their company.
She passed the Workers’ Protection Desk ordinance and the Magnegosyo ‘Ta ‘Day (Let’s Do Business) ordinance, which aims to provide livelihood programs for the marginalized in the communities.
She also initiated a dialogue with mothers and health committee chair Councilor Joselle Villafuerte which helped amend an ordinance on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination.
On the day that Hugpong announced the withdrawal of their support to Librado-Morata, she continued with the vaccination programs of the city government that she had facilitated.
While she has the option to run as an independent candidate, she had considered withdrawing from the election.
“At this juncture, it is with a heavy heart that I plan to withdraw from the local elections next year, and I might file said withdrawal within the week. Rest assured that I will continue to discharge the functions of my office until the end of my term,” her statement said.
“My decision is a result of a consensus that while we have established our name and effectively infused our principle-based politics, the existing political realities are such that political parties dominate and could frustrate the will and voice of the majority,” she added.
But the Kilusang Mayo Uno Southern Mindanao urged her to reconsider.
“The workers in Davao City express our solidarity and full support to the candidacy of Councilor Pamela Librado. We fervently call on her to reconsider her plan on withdrawing the candidacy as it denies the chance of the workers and urban poor to be represented in the city council. Notwithstanding, her withdrawal would further consolidate the ruling clique in the city that only serve their personal interests,” they said in a statement.
The group also questioned Hugpong’s reason to go against Librado. “If these deeds and ideals of Councilor Librado run contrary to Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod then it only proves that the said party is not supportive for the good and betterment of workers, urban poor, and marginalized sectors in the city,” they said.
Netizens also voiced their support for Librado, as they recognized her efforts of supporting workers and urban poor communities.
Librado said she respects the party’s decision to withdraw the nomination but said “I condemn all efforts to insult the people’s trust in our brand of politics for 30 years by character assassination and red-tagging.”